Tuesday, April 15, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

The Cannery can be Davis’ new green standard

By Mark Braly and members of the Valley Climate Action Center board of directors

Davis has a goal, adopted by the City Council in 2006, of zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. We have a long way to go to achieve this goal. We make the task more difficult with each new house we build in Davis whose carbon emissions are more than net zero.

The Cannery project, the only large development in Davis in the foreseeable future, proposes 547 single-family homes that do not achieve net-zero electricity, let alone net-zero carbon emissions.

That technologies for net-zero energy homes are available is not in question. And prices are falling. ConAgra, owner and developer of The Cannery, has committed to including many green features, such as partial solar electric systems, as standard in the single-family homes. They also plan to offer two higher-cost packages of options: one for zero electricity (with natural gas) and another for zero energy (all electric).

The issue is: Should the city require one of these packages as standard? ConAgra estimates that the net-zero electricity package will increase the average home price by $16,000, an amount that likely would raise the average new home price by 3 to 4 percent. The net-zero carbon home, according to ConAgra, would add about twice that much.

The question is: How much would these additional features add to the price if they were made standard? With the information we have now, there is no way to know.

Historically, the city must play blackjack with a developer; the city shows its cards, but the developer doesn’t. ConAgra has hired Davis Energy Group, one of the nation’s most qualified energy consulting firms, to advise it, but the results are not available to the city’s decision-makers and the public.

ConAgra says these features will add to the cost of the homes, possibly making them unaffordable to many groups that should live in Davis, such as our teachers and other public employees. But will they? Or will they sell at market price, regardless of their cost of construction? That market is strong and, with so few homes for sale, it is likely to get stronger.

This is why the Valley Climate Action Center, a nonprofit dedicated to implementation of the city’s Climate Action Plan, has proposed that either the Davis Energy Group information be made public, or the city bring in its own analysts, at the developer’s expense, to determine whether net-zero energy homes can cost-effectively be offered to the public as standard.

Other developers currently sell standard “net-zero” electric homes in Rio Vista and other nearby markets that are less robust than Davis. If these upgrades do raise the price of the homes, low mortgage rates mean these features typically can be paid for with monthly mortgage costs that are lower than the monthly energy cost savings.

But another compelling reason to require a net-zero standard is simplicity. When buying new homes, customers appreciate choices in things that show, where they have the opportunity to express their own taste. In hidden features that affect energy performance, the choices can bewilder most buyers, and with the choices come major inefficiencies.

The sales team would need to be fully educated on the energy features, and some would sell the options harder than others. Most of the options are way more expensive to add later, so if a buyer realizes their value after moving in, it is too late to add them cost-effectively.

George Phillips, spokesman for the project for ConAgra, says it is better to give home buyers the choice. But if the state’s Title 24 energy efficiency standards were optional, our energy and climate future would be grim indeed.

If net-zero electricity is standard, almost everyone wins. The buyers get lower monthly costs and the personal satisfaction of helping our community deal with carbon emissions. The developer gets better pricing from the subcontractors because of volume and standardization. Further, the developer’s sales costs go down because there are fewer options. Finally, they will sell more houses because most people would like to buy and live in an affordable, comfortable net-zero home.

The city and (we) citizens are rewarded by positive steps toward a key city goal. OK, PG&E has lower revenues, but they still have the rest of us as a huge revenue base!

Davis’ planning staff has indicated that The Cannery meets the city’s standards for greenhouse gas emissions adopted by the City Council in 2008. But that standard expired in 2010. The council adopted the standards for only two years for good reason: It recognized that the standards needed to be upgraded frequently to keep up with new technical and economic developments.

Unfortunately, the expired standards haven’t been upgraded. But they are being used by staff to evaluate this project. The Cannery is a singular opportunity to upgrade our standards now. Evidence suggests that the new standard should be net-zero energy, a new standard that will not set us back from our goal of carbon neutrality.

— Members of the Valley Climate Action Center board are Mark Braly, president, and Christine Backman, Richard Bourne, Gerald Braun, Joshua Cunningham, Bill Julian, Matt Seitzler, Jenifer Segar, Matthews Williams and Eugene Wilson

Special to The Enterprise

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Davis Enterprise does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

News

Carlton Plaza: Home, sweet senior home

By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1, 3 Comments | Gallery

 
DTA votes for status-quo calendar

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1

UC Davis prof repeats history with Pulitzer

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Bob Poppenga enters school board race

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1, 3 Comments

 
Police warn of PG&E phone scam

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

 
Pets of the week

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2 | Gallery

 
Top Democratic lawmaker backs off ‘carbon tax’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2, 4 Comments

Monkey business

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3, 1 Comment

 
Can you name these leaders?

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3, 1 Comment

Allen will meet voters for coffee

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3, 1 Comment

 
Take a bike tour of UCD’s Arboretum

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
‘My Father’s Garden’ author reads, signs

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Support group for widows/widowers forms in Davis

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Care planning workshops will begin Thursday

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

Swanson lawn signs available

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Dancers to return to Quad for 42nd powwow

By Cory Golden | From Page: A3

Antidepressant use during pregnancy linked to autism

By Phyllis Brown | From Page: A4

 
Avid Reader to hold political, educational forums

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Take a hike with the Sierra Club

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
Trek the mountains of Indonesia with Audubon speaker

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

View classic vehicles at the April Cruise-In

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
Paws for Thought: Dogs truly do make us healthier

By Evelyn Dale | From Page: A4 | Gallery

Hear poets at The Other Voice

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Dr. G to host last show of the season

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Bunny Run will benefit Yolo SPCA

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
Former resident returns for book-signing

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A10

.

Forum

Engaged to the party girl

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B5

 
Freeloader wants to return

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B5

 
Maintain good credit during college years

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

Pat Oliphant cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

 
.

Sports

‘Boston Strong,’ meet ‘Davis Strong’ at Monday’s marathon

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Dufresnes are the Devils’ dynamic duo

By Dylan Lee | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Jaso’s HR lifts A’s over Angels

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Loss to McClatchy adds to DHS’ recent soccer woes

By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Big AAA bats this week in Davis Little League

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

 
.

Features

Citrus Circuits wraps up regionals, heads to world championships

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

 
This little light of mine

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A8 | Gallery

What’s happening for youths

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

 
.

Arts

 
‘Old West’ opera to be screened at I-House

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

Madrigals, choir present NYC tour repertoire

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

 
Catch the Road Crew at Picnic in the Park

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9 | Gallery

Cajun sounds to fill The Palms

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

 
Strong performances highlight ‘Visiting Mr. Green’

By Bev Sykes | From Page: A9 | Gallery

Spring Finale concert set for April 27

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

 
I See Hawks in L.A. to play at The Palms

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

.

Business

.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Comics: Tuesday, April 15, 2014 (set 1)

By Creator | From Page: B5

 
Comics: Tuesday, April 15, 2014 (set 2)

By Creator | From Page: B7