Friday, September 19, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

‘Learning as we go’: West Village at 87% of goal

WestVillageAerialW

The gray patches on the rooftops of the buildings in West Village are solar panels, demonstrating the vast network of energy-generating panels throughout the growing community. It’s built on UC Davis land west of Highway 113. West Village Partnership/Courtesy photo

By
From page A1 | November 27, 2013 |

Net zero? Not yet.

But some of the minds behind West Village said Tuesday that they were upbeat about a report that found their “living laboratory” produced 87 percent of the power that it consumed over a one-year period.

“Eighty-seven percent, we think, is really quite an accomplishment for just the first phase of building,” said Sid England, UC Davis assistant vice chancellor for environmental stewardship and sustainability. “For the first time, we’re able to compare what the models said with what’s going on in reality, and we think it’s really good.”

Net zero is an ongoing goal, he added: “We’re learning as we go.”

UCD and its private partner, West Village Community Partnership, fell shy of their long-term goal — taking zero net energy from the grid on an annual basis — partly because of higher-than-expected energy use by student residents and the need for fine-tuning of some equipment.

Expanding programs to encourage lower energy use, adding more photovoltaic panels and a campus biodigester coming online will help West Village reach its goal, according to the partners.

West Village’s solar production during the study period was 2,981 megawatt hours of electricity, or seven more than anticipated. The neighborhood used 3,412 megawatt hours — 622 more than the model anticipated.

“When this was modeled five, eight years ago, I don’t think that we assumed that every resident would have as many devices as they do — an iPhone, an iPad, a laptop, a gaming system and a TV all in their room — so our plug load is a lot higher than we assumed,” said Stephanie Martling, director of asset management for developer Carmel Partners.

Energy consumption estimates were based on multi-family units in the region, England said, but each bedroom turned out to be more like a household.

The new apartments featured a GreenWave Reality panel allowing residents to more closely monitor and control their energy consumption, down to individual outlets.

The system interfered with Internet signals, however, so it was scrapped within a year, Martling said. (Internet-access problems remain a problem at West Village, but management is attempting to find a long-term fix, she said).

Students can still log on to a website to check out how much power they’re using, “but we don’t have a great response rate at this time,” she said.

Martling said that while new GreenWave-like monitoring and control equipment is a possibility, West Village is focusing first on reducing the amount of power students use. During the study period, some used as much as three times more than their neighbors.

Management is now knocking on the doors of those using the most, talking to residents about energy hogs, like mini refrigerators and space heaters, and seeking out thermostats set to “on” rather than “auto.”

In partnership with PG&E, Architectural Energy Corp. has been studying how best to engage residents. A 140-apartment project will mix educational programs with ideas like competitions between buildings with prizes like pizza.

“We’re really trying to incentivize good behavior,” Martling said.

Researchers and industry experts are also being brought in to give educational talks. This week, students are being urged to seal windows and unplug gadgets and appliances before heading home for Thanksgiving break.

Another challenge: heat pump water heaters for student housing.

They initially failed to perform up to specifications and often shifted over automatically to a less efficient back-up setting to meet the hot water demand.

The equipment has since been given a tune-up, and the pumps are checked frequently, Martling said.

This first of planned annual reports covers the period from March 2012 to February 2013, chosen, England said, because a significant number of buildings were occupied by then and corresponding solar panels had come online.

The report includes the 846 bedrooms then complete, a community center and about 35,000 square feet of office and retail space occupied by UCD energy and transportation researchers, as well as by a coffee shop and convenience store.

The Sacramento City College Center at West Village is not included in the report because the Los Rios Community College District chose to meet its own building standards rather than take part in the net-zero project.

Analysis by the Davis Energy Group found heating and cooling systems lived up to expectations. So did solar, though the consultants urged more frequent cleaning of dust from the panels.

West Village’s greatest success comes from its design, England said:

“California has the most stringent energy-efficiency code in the country. By putting energy efficiency into our designs here, we’ve cut in half the amount of electricity below that already stringent standard.”

Said Bob Segar, assistant vice chancellor for campus planning and community resources, “You’re designing (energy) out of the system. That’s the most powerful move, because it means you’re not even looking for a substitute source.”

Since the end of the study period, the full 1,980 bedrooms planned have been completed and are about 99 percent occupied. About 7,000 square feet of retail space remains vacant.

Plans call for 343 single-family houses to eventually be built on the 200-acre site, bringing the neighborhood’s population to an estimated 3,500. Model homes are set to be built in the spring.

A new biodigester under construction on the site of UCD’s now-closed landfill, north of Putah Creek and west of County Road 98, will boost energy production for the campus. The biodigester should begin producing electricity from landfill gas in the next few days and be fully operational, taking in all of UCD’s food waste, manure and some green waste, by mid- to late winter.

When completed, it will produce upwards of 4,000 megawatt-hours of energy — eight times West Village’s energy shortfall during the study period and more than enough to reach the net zero goal.

England said UCD isn’t yet sure how much energy it will count toward the neighborhood’s goal, however.

A biodigester had been planned for the West Village itself, but UCD seized the chance to create a larger demonstration site with private partner Clean World Sacramento.

Segar said that’s in keeping with aspirations to work on a community scale.

“Part of the West Village experiment is, What can you do at the scale of the light bulb. Or inside a unit or a building or a row of buildings? Or, in the case of the biodigester, even bigger than what the West Village community can produce (in waste to fuel it)?”

Other research projects underway in West Village include using solar energy stored in batteries to charge electric vehicles and an American Honda Motor Co. “smart home” demonstration project.

On land leased from the university, the company’s house will include a solar power system, energy-efficient heating, cooling and lighting designed at UCD and direct solar-to-vehicle charging.

Ralph Cavanagh, energy program co-director for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said that by developing and testing new technology and learning how to better influence consumers, West Village will provide “valuable lessons that reverberate far beyond Davis.”

“The world is full of people who are enthusiastically trying to do one-off zero-net-energy buildings, but the future here really lies in doing it at community scale,” Cavanagh said. 

Comments

comments

Cory Golden

Cory Golden

The Enterprise's higher-education and congressional reporter. http://about.me/cory_golden
  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Grant means new push for moving tracks out of town

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Some say council needs to reconsider MRAP

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1

    UC to create $250 million venture capital fund

    By San Francisco Chronicle | From Page: A1

     
    School district may redevelop downtown site

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1

     
    Master Gardeners share their wisdom at free workshops

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

    Scots vote to stay in UK

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    France strikes Islamic State group’s depot in Iraq

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Man faces arson charge in huge California wildfire

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    DUI suspected in crash

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

    Woodland Healthcare offering flu shots

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Putah Creek Bike Path to close temporarily

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Little Free Libraries open at Montgomery

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A3

    Project Linus seeks donations

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Rabid bat found at Holmes Junior High

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Students invited to apply for Blue & White grants

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Halloween costume sale benefits preschool

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Telling tales, on ‘Davisville’

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Volunteers sought to make veggie bags

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Storyteller will draw on music, dance

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Free workout class set at library

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Explorit: Lots of ways to be a volunteer

    By Lisa Justice | From Page: A4 | Gallery

    Sierra Club remembers longtime walker

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    DHS Classes of 1954 and 1955 will hold 60th reunion

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Nonprofits can get DCN’s help

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Register to vote by Oct. 20

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Davis maps available at Chamber office

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    Need a new best friend?

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5 | Gallery

    Reception benefits endangered gorillas

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

     
    Downtown history tour planned in October

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

    Davis hosts its own climate change rally

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

     
    Sutter Farmers Market offers local goods

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8 | Gallery

    Wolk applauds approval of stronger rules for olive oil

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

     
    Qigong classes available for heart health

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

    .

    Forum

    Sick of being the bad guy

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

    Return to previous plan

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

     
    Save the ‘pine cone place’

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    Affirm our community values

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

     
    Project has safety risks

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    Learn more about Paso Fino

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

     
    Educate homeless with dogs

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

    Cheers and Jeers: Not the end of the rainbow

    By Our View | From Page: A6

     
    .

    Sports

    Aggies’ new energy could be scary for Big West

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

     
    No rest for the weary: Aggie TE Martindale busy on and off the field

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Devils hope the light bulb turns on at Edison

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

     
    River Cats and Giants sign two-year deal

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    Blue Devil volleyballers hold off Herd

    By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Take Zona and Bama this week

    By Bob Dunning | From Page: B2

    Mustangs are no match for DHS boys in water polo

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

     
    A’s slide continues as Rangers sweep

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

    .

    Features

    Name Droppers: Awards keep coming for UC Davis retiree

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

     
    .

    Business

    Redesigned 2015 Escalade remains breed all its own

    By Ann M. Job | From Page: B3 | Gallery

     
    .

    Obituaries

    Carol L. Walsh

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    .

    Comics

    Comics: Friday, September 19, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: A10

     
    .

    Real Estate Review

    Featured Listing

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER1

    Professional Services Directory

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER2

    Taylor Morrison

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER3

    Malek Baroody

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER4

    Norcal Land

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER5

    Robin Garland

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER6

    Karen Waggoner

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER7

    Dana Hawkins

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER7

    Martha Bernauer

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER8

    Joe Kaplan

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER8

    Lynne Wegner

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER8

    Remax

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER9

    Melrina A Maggiora

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER10

    Wells Fargo Home Mortgage

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER11

    Julie Leonard

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER11

    Coldwell Banker

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER12

    Kim Eichorn

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER14

    Lyon Real Estate

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER15

    Jamie Madison & Associates

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER16

    Marcelo Campos

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER16

    Julie Partain

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER16

    Juan Ramirez

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER17

    Kim Merrel Lamb

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER17

    Bob Bockwinkel

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER17

    Chris Snow

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER18

    James Hanna

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER18

    Raul Zamora

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER19

    Susan von Geldern

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER19

    Travis Credit Union

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER20

    Karen Waggoner

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER21

    Jamie Madison

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER21

    Tracy Harris

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER22

    Lisa Haass

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER22

    First Street Real Estate

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER24