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Overview and History
Today, the University of California at Davis (UCD), Plant Growth Facilities consists of two controlled environment sites (CEF-A and CEF-B) supported by the Office of Research. These facilities are available for University of California research and teaching activities.
Earlier facilities on campus, having been built in the 1950s and 1960s, were becoming dated and in need of an upgrade. The Project Team had a vision to employ state of the art computer monitored controlled environments capable of delivering a wide range of temperature, light intensity, humidity and carbon dioxide levels.
Conviron and UCD first began discussions in 1990. A distinguishing feature of the collaboration was Conviron introducing UCD research staff and site architects to other regional centers of excellence. With Conviron arranging site visits for UCD to major installations like the University of Saskatoon, UCD was able to both see a live site in action and, most importantly, interact with site management, researchers and facility maintenance personnel who had previous experience using Conviron equipment in a multiuser setting.
Construction on the UCD facility started in 1993 with financial support from the National Science Foundation and UC Davis. CEF-A was opened in July of 1994 and CEF-B followed in 1998. As Professor Bill Lucas, who headed the project at UCD stated "The facility offers enormous opportunities for plant research….with these kinds of controls we can grow plants under conditions ranging from a chilly, dry, subfreezing climate to a humid, hot environment".
Since opening, the facility has been relied upon as a centre of excellence for studies ranging from plant responses to abiotic and biotic stress, functional genomics, metabolomics, climate change and biofuels. A wide range of publications have resulted based on research performed in their extensive lineup of controlled environments. Today, the UCD facility is the largest public installation of its kind in the U.S. The "Green Giant", as it has been nicknamed, consists of over 150 controlled environments – all designed, fabricated and installed by Conviron.