Zero Net Energy Development Near Completion at UC Davis

Davis, Calif.--The University of California-Davis is near completion of the first phase of a mixed-use project it is calling the "largest planned zero net energy community" in the United States.

Davis, Calif.–The University of California-Davis is near completion of the first phase of UC Davis West Village, which it is calling the “largest planned zero net energy community” in the United States. The goal of a zero net energy community is more than energy efficiency. The idea is that the property, through a combination of energy-efficient features and on-site renewable energy generation, will need no power off the standard grid–and might even be able to add to the grid.

The first phase of the 130-acre mixed use project, which will ultimately include apartment housing for 2,000 students, will be completed later this year. The two initial student housing components of the development, the Ramble Apartments and Viridian, will be open in time for the beginning of the school year in September 2011. The Ramble Apartments will feature two-, three- and four-bedroom apartments, while Viridian will have one- and two-bedroom apartments.

Other components of the development will be a village square surrounded by neighborhood-oriented retail, an education center for Los Rios Community College, recreation and study facilities, and 343 single-family homes for sale to faculty and staff. The development’s first-phase retail space will total about 42,500 square feet.

Each of UC Davis West Village’s apartment buildings will be constructed according to green principles, to facilitate the project’s zero-energy goals. For example, the apartments will employ energy-conserving components, including solar-reflective roof materials, radiant barrier roof sheathing, high-efficiency light fixtures, exterior walls with added insulation, and high-efficiency HVAC.

Also, architectural elements such as roof overhangs and extensive use of sunshades over windows will be designed to respond to the specific solar exposure of each building. On-site water retention is maximized as well, and materials from renewable sources are being incorporated into the project.

Much of the needed expertise needed to create the zero-energy aspects of the development will come from research centers affiliated with the university. The UC Davis Water Efficiency Center, the UC Davis Energy Institute, the UC Davis Energy Efficiency Center, the UC Davis Western Cooling Efficiency Center, the UC Davis California Lighting Technology Center and the UC Davis Biogas Energy Project will all contribute to the project.