UC Davis West Village Rising

It is largest planned zero net energy community in the U.S.

Photo of Gavin Newsom
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom toured the UC Davis West Village site on May 19. "This is a demonstration of California's excellence in sustainability, and should set an example for the rest of the nation," he said.

The largest planned zero net energy development in the U.S. is readying for its debut this fall.

Under construction on the campus of the University of California, Davis, UC Davis West Village is combining advanced energy-efficient design features with a high-efficiency solar power system to become the largest planned zero net energy development in the nation. (“Zero net energy” means that the community will put back into the electrical grid, annually, as much electricity as it consumes.)

UC Davis West Village is the product of an innovative public-private partnership between UC Davis and West Village Community Partnership LLC, a joint venture led by San Francisco-based Carmel Partners with their joint venture partner Urban Villages of Denver.

The collaborators gathered today in the poolside community room with public and industry officials, including California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, and toured the energy-efficient apartments. The first 315 apartments will be occupied by students, faculty and staff in September.

“I applaud UC Davis, SunPower Corporation, Carmel Partners and the California Energy Commission for their collaboration, dedication and leadership in developing the largest zero net energy project in the United States,” said Newsom. “This is a demonstration of California’s excellence in sustainability, and should set an example for the rest of the nation.”

Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi said UC Davis West Village demonstrated the university’s unwavering commitment to sustainability and clean energy solutions.

“The West Village project is a prime example of how our campus researchers are working with industry and government on real-time, real-world solutions to improve and enhance our living communities and address California’s environmental problems,” Katehi said.

When complete, the 200-acre project is expected to house about 4,500 people, including students, staff and faculty.

Phase I of the project is currently being built. It includes apartments for 2,000 people in The Ramble and Viridian; an education center for Los Rios Community College; recreation and study facilities; a village square surrounded by neighborhood-serving retail; and 343 single-family homes for sale to faculty and staff.

“West Village is breaking ground by creating both a great place to live and a model zero net energy community,” said Nolan Zail, senior vice president for Carmel Partners. “Our guiding principles include affordability, environmental sustainability and quality of place. West Village will include housing, recreation and retail options, providing a convenient and eco-friendly lifestyle.

“Using aggressive energy-efficiency measures and on-site renewable energy generation to meet community energy demand, this holistic approach eliminates key barriers that once made it difficult to design and build large-scale sustainable communities,“ Zail added.

UC Davis West Village integrates sustainable design to enable those living in the community to reduce their reliance on automobiles, limit energy consumption and leverage the local climate. Low-energy-consumption design features maximize on-site water retention. Building designs optimize solar orientation, utilize energy-efficient appliances and incorporate materials from renewable sources.

A major element of the zero net energy plan is a 4-megawatt solar power system manufactured, designed and installed by SunPower Corp. of San Jose, Calif.

The solar system will generate the equivalent of 100 percent of the electricity needed for the rental apartments housing the first 2,000 tenants and the retail space. The system includes rooftop solar power installations and solar canopies over parking areas.

“We expect SunPower’s high-efficiency technology to reliably deliver enough clean, emission-free power to help West Village achieve its zero net energy goals,” said Jim Pape, president of SunPower’s residential and commercial business group. “We applaud the aspirations of this unique community, and are confident it will serve as a model for similar developments around the world.”

According to estimates provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the SunPower system will produce enough power to avoid more than 2,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year, equivalent to removing 9,000 cars from California roads over the 25-year life of the system.

In addition to the SunPower system, UC Davis West Village integrates sustainable-design elements to exceed California Title 24 building code energy use standards by 50 percent.

• Every apartment building is built with energy-conserving components including solar-reflective roof materials, radiant barrier roof sheathing, high-efficiency light fixtures, thick 2x6-inch exterior walls for added insulation, and high-efficiency air-conditioning systems and appliances.

• On-site water retention is maximized and materials from renewable sources are incorporated.

• Architectural elements such as roof overhangs and extensive use of sunshades over windows are designed to mitigate the specific solar exposure of each building.

• Residents will have technology tools to enhance control of their own energy use, including programmable energy-management systems and SunPower monitoring, which provides information on solar-system power generation and electricity usage.

Energy experts from PG&E, Chevron Energy Solutions and Davis Energy Group have played key roles in the zero net energy planning and feasibility studies on this project.

Grant funding was provided by the California Energy Commission, the California Public Utilities Commission and the U.S. Department of Energy.

The project also draws on the nationally recognized expertise of UC Davis, particularly from its research centers, including the UC Davis Energy Efficiency Center, Energy Institute, Center for Water-Energy Efficiency, Western Cooling Efficiency Center, California Lighting Technology Center and Biogas Energy Project.

UC Davis West Village’s Phase I components include:

• The Ramble Apartments. Two-, three- and four-bedroom apartments for students are configured on 10 courtyards positioned along a central winding pathway. The adjacent 15,000-square-foot recreation and amenities facility provides pools; a sauna; fitness center; conference and study areas; and game and theater rooms.

• Viridian. One- and two-bedroom apartments overlook the village square.

• Retail space. West Village has 42,500 square feet of commercial space for neighborhood-serving retail and university offices surrounding the village square. Viridian units are all located above the retail space.

• Community college. The 60,000-square-foot facility opening in January 2012 will house the Sacramento City College Davis Center of the Los Rios Community College District -- the first community college center ever built on a University of California campus. There are also sites allocated for the Davis Joint Unified School District and a small day-care or preschool facility.

• Single-family homes. Available for purchase in 2012, 343 homes will help the university recruit and retain top faculty and staff. Ownership is intended for full-time employees of the university. A lottery system will be used to allocate houses to prospective buyers.

About UC Davis West Village

UC Davis West Village is the largest planned zero net energy development in the U.S. By combining aggressive energy-efficiency measures with on-site renewable power generation that meets the energy demand of the community, West Village creates a new model for environmentally responsible living in a large-scale community. Located on the campus of the University of California, Davis, the development broke ground in August 2009, and is a public-private partnership between UC Davis and the West Village Community Partnership LLC, a joint venture led by Carmel Partners with their partner Urban Villages. For more information about UC Davis West Village, visit: http://www.ucdaviswestvillage.com.

Media Resources

Kat Kerlin, Research news (emphasis on environmental sciences), 530-750-9195, kekerlin@ucdavis.edu

Spencer Moore, Chase Communications (photos, interviews, tours), (415) 317-7100, smoore@chasepr.com

Julie Chase, Chase Communications, (415) 710-7108, jchase@chasepr.com

Ingrid Ekstrom, SunPower Corp, (510) 260-8368, iekstrom@sunpowercorp.com

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