UC Davis West Village recently made its official debut as the largest planned zero net energy community in the country.

Photo courtesy of UC Davis West Village
UC Davis West Village

Located on the University of California, Davis campus, the 130-acre development is designed to generate as much energy each year as it consumes.

Completion of major elements of UC Davis West Village’s $300 million first phase includes 315 apartments, 42,500 square feet of commercial space, a recreation center and village square. More than 800 residents have moved into the initial phase within the past month.

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

According to West Village Community Partnership, LLC (a joint venture of Carmel Partners of San Francisco and Urban Villages of Denver), zero net energy has never been attempted on the scale of UC Davis West Village.

In its Zero Net Energy Action Plan, released Sept. 1, 2010, the California Public Utilities Commission called for shifting all new residential construction in California to zero net energy by 2020, and all new commercial construction by 2030.

UC Davis West Village relies on two strategies to achieve the zero net energy goal; aggressive energy efficiency measures and on-site power generation. If built to code, the completed portions of UC Davis West Village would burn 22 million kilowatt hours of electricity a year. But by employing aggressive energy efficiency measures, planners project the annual total will come to about 11 million kilowatt hours, a 50% reduction.

The energy-efficiency measures include solar-reflective roofing, radiant barrier roof sheathing and extra insulation. Energy-efficient exterior lighting fixtures, indoor occupancy sensors and daylighting techniques will help the community use about 60% less energy than if standard lighting had been used. A web-based tool enables energy monitoring by unit. And a smart phone app lets residents turn off lamps and plugged-in electronics remotely.