Largest Zero Energy Community Opens in US

Setting a national precedent in sustainable design, UC Davis West Village is the largest planned zero net energy community in the US.

Located on the University of California/ Davis campus, the community is designed to generate as much energy each year as it consumes, and to demonstrate that this can be done on a large scale.

It was designed to enable students, faculty and staff to live near the core campus in a community setting.

The first $280 million phase is complete – it has 315 apartments, 42,500 square feet of commercial space, a recreation center and village square. Final build-out is expected in fall 2013.

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

It will be the first of many in California. The state’s landmark Zero Net Energy Action Plan, released Sept. 1, 2010, requires all new residential construction to be zero net energy by 2020, and all new commercial construction by 2030.

The project is a public-private partnership, supported with nearly $7.5 million in federal and state grants to study zero net energy systems.

By employing aggressive energy efficiency measures, the community’s energy demand will be half that of a conventional development.

Energy efficiency measures include:

  • solar-reflective roofs,
  • radiant barrier roof sheathing and extra insulation
  • energy-efficient exterior lighting fixtures
  • indoor occupancy sensors
  • daylighting techniques
  • each apartment/ house has a web-based energy monitoring unit
  • a smart phone app lets residents turn off lamps and plugged-in electronics remotely.

A 4 megawatt solar PV system will meet the energy needs of the first 1,980 apartment residents and commercial spaces.

The project draws on the expertise of UC Davis faculty and research centers. On the horizon is a biodigester, developed by a UC Davis professor, that would convert campus table scraps, animal and plant waste into energy.

The community also has an extensive bike network and is served by the campus student-run bus service (buses are powered by natural gas).

Xeriscape landscaping, water-saving toilets, recycled building materials, and low VOC paints are some of the other green features.

Here’s the UC Davis West Village website:

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