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Lighting innovator assumes first Rosenfeld Chair in Energy Efficiency

May 3, 2012

Michael Siminovitch, director of the California Lighting Technology Center, has been named the first Arthur H. Rosenfeld Chair in Energy Efficiency at the University of California, Davis.

The designation honors both Siminovitch, a professor of design whose work is revolutionizing lighting throughout California, and Rosenfeld, considered the “father of energy efficiency.”

“I am absolutely delighted that Michael has received this recognition,” said Jessie Ann Owens, dean of the Division of Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies, which encompasses the Department of Design. “He is a visionary leader and the perfect person to inaugurate this chair.” 

Siminovitch has directed the CLTC since it was established in 2003, under the UC Davis Department of Design. It has since become one of the most respected lighting research centers in the United States. Working with industry partners, utilities, government agencies, and others, CLTC is dedicated to advancing energy-efficient lighting and daylighting design.

High-efficiency lighting developed at CLTC now illuminates buildings statewide, as well as UC Davis parking lots and garages, the Richmond Department of Public Health and other state agencies, higher education campuses outside UC Davis, such as California State University-Long Beach, and Raley’s supermarkets.

The lighting retrofits at UC Davis are part of the university’s Smart Lighting Initiative co-developed by Siminovitch to reduce the campus’s electricity use for lighting by 60 percent by the end of 2015. When the initiative is complete, the campus is expected to reduce its carbon footprint by about 10,000 metric tons of CO2 equivalent and save an estimated $3 million each year. The CLTC also advised developers of UC Davis West Village, the nation’s largest planned zero net energy community.

CLTC is part of the UC Davis Energy Efficiency Center, of which Rosenfeld is a founding advisory board member. Rosenfeld is currently a professor emeritus of physics at UC Berkeley, co-founder and former director of the Center for Building Science at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and retired California Energy Commissioner. 

“We’re thrilled to recognize both Art Rosenfeld and Michael Siminovitch — two extraordinary people who are doing good things for California and the world,” said Nicole Biggart, Chevron Chair in Energy Efficiency, director of the Energy Efficiency Center, and professor in the Graduate School of Management. 

In the 1970s, Rosenfeld was one of the first in the nation to propose that conserving energy was cheaper and smarter than building new power plants and finding more nonrenewable energy sources. His contributions to energy efficiency are so profound that a new unit to describe energy saved — the Rosenfeld — was named after him in 2010.

While working as a student researcher at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Siminovitch was mentored by Rosenfeld, whose ideas left a deep impression on him. 

“He was an enthusiastic champion of this thing called energy efficiency,” said Siminovitch, recalling those early years. “At the time, he was one of the few in the country linking technology, design and human behavior all together with energy efficiency. The California Lighting Technology Center is based on those cornerstones, which I learned from him.” 

Like Rosenfeld, Siminovitch is intent on using science and design to make an impact. In addition to teaching the next generation of lighting designers and helping to develop new energy-efficient technologies, he has helped to shape public policy in California. He often advises regulatory agencies, manufacturers and architects, all with a focus on bringing energy efficient technologies to the public. His efforts to make adaptive lighting a standard in building design helped shape changes to Title 24 codes and standards.

“The Rosenfeld Chair is about the can-do culture of UC Davis and the California Lighting Technology Center — a culture of innovation and cooperation,” Siminovitch said. “We’re creating real change and moving ideas from the laboratory to the marketplace by working collaboratively with industry.”

The new chair was endowed by more than 70 individuals and organizations. Major donors include Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Sempra Energy, Southern California Edison, the California Clean Energy Fund, Chevron, ClimateWorks Foundation, Exelon Corporation, Goldman Sachs, Power Integrations Inc., and Wendy and Eric Schmidt.  A full list of donors is online at:  http://eec.ucdavis.edu/events/rosenfeld_donors.php.

The endowment will help the chair holder promote the EEC’s mission to develop and commercialize energy-efficient technologies, teach future leaders in energy efficiency, and conduct critical policy-supporting research.

Siminovitch is a graduate of Carleton University in Canada and received his master’s degrees in both industrial design and architecture from the University of Illinois. He earned his doctorate degree in architecture and human factors engineering from the University of Michigan.

About UC Davis

UC Davis is a global community of individuals united to better humanity and our natural world while seeking solutions to some of our most pressing challenges. Located near the California state capital, UC Davis has more than 34,000 students, and the full-time equivalent of 4,100 faculty and other academics and 17,400 staff. The campus has an annual research budget of over $750 million, a comprehensive health system and 13 specialized research centers. The university offers interdisciplinary graduate study and 99 undergraduate majors in four colleges and six professional schools.

Media contact(s):

  • Michael Siminovitch, California Lighting Technology Center, (530) 747-3835, mjsiminovitch@ucdavis.edu (Also reach Siminovitch through Kelly Cunningham, CLTC outreach director, (530) 747-3824, kcunning@ucdavis.edu.)
  • Kat Kerlin, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-7704, kekerlin@ucdavis.edu, cell: (530) 750-9195

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