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UC Irvine and Huntington Beach partner for energy efficiency in Oak View community

UC Irvine and Huntington Beach partner for energy efficiency in Oak View community
Robert Flores, senior scientist, left, and Jack Brouwer, associate director, both of UC Irvine’s Advanced Power and Energy Program, are leading a project to turn Oak View into an energy-efficient area as part of a nationwide challenge. (Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

UC Irvine is spearheading a project to transform an underserved Huntington Beach community into an energy-efficient area as part of a nationwide challenge led by the California Energy Commission.

The campus’ Advanced Power and Energy Program received $1.9 million in funding from Southern California Edison, Southern California Gas and the energy commission to develop plans to integrate high-efficiency and sustainable energy technologies in the Oak View area, generally bounded by Slater and Warner avenues and Beach Boulevard and Nichols Lane.

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The team is considering installing solar panel hangars in parking lots, adding solar shade structures on the blacktop at Oak View Elementary School, planting more trees in the community, using LED lights and creating a car-sharing program.

Plans they create can be used as a blueprint to help other communities become more energy efficient, said Jack Brouwer, associate director of UCI’s Advanced Power and Energy Program.

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“It’s not just installing batteries on the roof or batteries in the garage. That doesn’t do it,” Brouwer said. “The community needs much more than that — it needs to improve its energy efficiency and lower its energy use.”

The team will submit a proposal by March in hopes of winning the challenge, he said.

The city of Huntington Beach, which formally agreed to the partnership with UCI in 2016, has educated the community on the importance of being energy efficient, said Antonia Graham, leader of the city’s sustainability and energy management projects.

“The city has invested a lot in this neighborhood and we’re interested in creating a better community in Huntington Beach,” she added.

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