UC Davis Near Completion on First Phase of Massive Zero Net Energy Community

Work is nearly complete on the first phase of UC Davis West Village, which the university is calling the "largest planned zero net energy community," in the country. That means that the property will ultimately generate at least as much, and possible more power than it consumes.

Work is nearly complete on the first phase of UC Davis West Village, which the university is calling the “largest planned zero net energy community” in the country. That means that the property will ultimately generate at least as much, and possibly more, power than it consumes.

UC Davis West Village, which the University of California-Davis is developing in a joint venture with San Francisco-based Carmel Partners, will generate around four megawatts of electricity from solar panels on roofs and parking canopies when fully operational, providing all of its own power needs. In addition to solar panel installations, the buildings will also emphasize high energy efficiency and more effective insulation.

The first phase of the 130-acre project, which will be completed this year, will include apartment housing for 2,000 students, 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 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. The Center, which is the adjacent 15,000-square-foot recreation and amenities facility, will provide a fitness center, conference and study areas, game and theater rooms and a recreational pool, lap pool and spa. The development’s first phase retail space will total about 42,500 square feet.

UC Davis West Village will also be energy-efficient in the sense that its design seeks to enable those living there to reduce their reliance on automobiles, as well as take advantage of the local climate. Every apartment building contains 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.

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

The university’s interest in developing such an energy-efficient student complex is hardly surprising. The project is drawing on the expertise of its various research centers, including 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.