A tour group looks out over UC Davis' new West Village complex during the grand opening on Saturday. Wayne Tilcock/Enterprise photo

A tour group looks out over UC Davis' new West Village complex during the grand opening on Saturday. Wayne Tilcock/Enterprise photo

Agriculture + Environment

West Village celebrates energy milestone

By From page A3 | October 16, 2011

Setting a national precedent in sustainable design, UC Davis’ West Village celebrated its grand opening Saturday as the largest planned zero net energy community in the nation. The housing development for students, faculty and staff is designed to generate as much energy each year as it consumes.

“UC Davis West Village illustrates our commitment to cutting-edge research in sustainability and the value and impact of public-private partnerships,” Chancellor Linda Katehi said. “The success of these partnerships demonstrates what can be achieved when innovations in design, science and engineering come together for the public good.”

Hundreds of residents, neighbors and supporters attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house celebrating completion of the first elements of West Village’s $300 million initial phase: 315 apartments, 42,500 square feet of commercial space, a recreation center and village square.

When completed, the ambitious 130-acre development will be home to about 3,000 people in 662 apartments and 343 single-family houses.

Zero net energy has never been attempted on the scale of West Village.

The project is a collaboration between UCD and West Village Community Partnership LLC (a joint venture of Carmel Partners of San Francisco and Urban Villages of Denver). The developer has a 65-year ground lease with the university for the project.

“UC Davis West Village is a visionary model for integrating pioneering sustainable principles with high-quality living environments, creating an eco-friendly lifestyle for students, faculty and staff,” said Nolan Zail, senior vice president of development at Carmel Partners.

“We believe the success of this innovative public-private partnership and demonstrated zero net energy living community will inspire other public and private institutions to build similar sustainable communities.”

West Village also will be home to:

* Sacramento City College’s Davis Center, the first community college center to be housed on a University of California campus. The center will open to an estimated 2,400 students in January.

* UCD’s first “uHub,” a prototype for future campus innovation hubs and an incubator for innovation in sustainability. Located in commercial space surrounding the village square, the uHub will be home to the campus’ energy research centers, serving as a living laboratory and fostering interactions with the private sector in the area of energy research.

Students began moving into the community’s Viridian and Ramble Apartments in August, with nearly all of the apartments now leased. Final build-out is expected in fall 2013. Today, the two apartment complexes are home to about 800 students, faculty and staff.

“You don’t have to sacrifice a thing,” senior Logan McCown of Palos Verdes said of zero net living. Her two-bedroom unit features walk-in closets, a full-size washing machine and dryer, stainless steel kitchen appliances, unlimited high-speed Internet service and air conditioning.

Single-family homes, for sale to staff and faculty, are slated to be completed in late 2012.

In its Zero Net Energy Action Plan, released Sept. 1, 2010, the California Public Utilities Commission called for shifting all new residential construction in California to zero net energy by 2020, and all new commercial construction by 2030.

West Village relies on two strategies to achieve the zero net energy goal: aggressive energy efficiency measures and on-site power generation.

If built to code, the completed portions of West Village would burn 22 million kilowatt-hours of electricity a year. But planners project the annual total will come to half that, about 11 million kilowatt-hours.

The energy-efficiency measures include solar-reflective roofing, radiant barrier roof sheathing and extra insulation. Energy-efficient exterior lighting fixtures, indoor occupancy sensors and “daylighting” techniques will help the community use about 60 percent less energy than if standard lighting had been used.

A web-based tool enables energy monitoring by unit. And a smart phone app lets residents turn off lamps and plugged-in electronics remotely.

A 4-megawatt photovoltaic system is expected to meet the energy needs of the first 1,980 apartment residents and commercial spaces.

On the horizon is a biodigester, based on technology developed at UCD, which would convert campus table scraps, animal and plant waste into energy.

The community is sustainable in ways beyond energy. It offers an extensive bike network and is served by the Unitrans bus system. Drought-friendly landscaping, water-saving toilets, recycled building materials and paints low in volatile organic compounds are among the conservation-minded features.

Under the neighborhood master plan for West Village, a future construction phase could include another 882 student beds and 132 single-family homes on 94 additional acres. No timeline has been set for this phase.

For more information, visit westvillage.ucdavis.edu.

— UC Davis News Service

Special to The Enterprise

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