UC Davis Developing Nation’s Largest Zero Net Energy Community

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UC Davis West Village rendering

This nation’s largest planned zero net energy development will be ready for a fall debut on the campus of the University of California, Davis.

The project is being developed under the aegis of an innovative public-private partnership, UC Davis West Village will include advanced energy-efficient design features and a high-efficiency solar power system to function using zero net energy, meaning the development will feed the electrical grid with as much electricity as it uses.

The public-private partnership includes UC Davis and West Village Community Partnership LLC. The private company is a joint venture including San Francisco-based Carmel Partners and Urban Villages of Denver. Students, faculty and staff will occupy the development’s apartments.

A formal announcement about the development took place on May 19. In attendance was California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, and toured the energy-efficient apartments.

At the ceremony, Newsom said: “This is a demonstration of California’s excellence in sustainability, and should set an example for the rest of the nation.”

When the build-out is complete on the 200-acre site, the community will house approximately 4,500 people.

Apartments are being designed with affordability and environmental sustainability in mind. The finished community is meant to feature low energy use and support reduced automobile dependence.

A key component in the community’s overall zero net energy plan will be a 4-megawatt solar power system that will generate the equivalent of 100 percent of the electricity needed for the rental apartments housing the first 2,000 tenants and the retail space. The system includes rooftop solar power installations and solar canopies over parking areas.

SunPower Corp is manufacturing and installing the solar system. According to estimates provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, this solar system can produce enough power to eliminate over 2,000 tons annually of carbon dioxide emissions per year.

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Glenn Meyers

is a writer, producer, and director. Meyers was editor and site director of Green Building Elements, a contributing writer for CleanTechnica, and is founder of Green Streets MediaTrain, a communications connection and eLearning hub. As an independent producer, he's been involved in the development, production and distribution of television and distance learning programs for both the education industry and corporate sector. He also is an avid gardener and loves sustainable innovation.

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