DAVIS, Calif. - The largest planned net zero energy development in the United States is readying for its debut this fall.

Under construction on the campus of the University of California, Davis, UC Davis West Village is combining advanced energy-efficient design features with a high-efficiency solar power system to become the largest planned net zero energy community in the nation. (Net zero energy means that the community will put back into the electrical grid, annually, as much electricity as it consumes.)

UC Davis West Village is the product of a public-private partnership between UC Davis and West Village Community Partnership LLC, a joint venture led by San Francisco-based Carmel Partners with its joint venture partner Urban Villages of Denver.

The first 315 apartments will be occupied by students, faculty, and staff in September.

Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi said UC Davis West Village demonstrates the university’s commitment to sustainability and clean energy solutions.

“The West Village project is a prime example of how our campus researchers are working with industry and government on real-time, real-world solutions to improve and enhance our living communities and address California’s environmental problems,” Katehi said.

When complete, the 200-acre project is expected to house about 4,500 people, including students, staff, and faculty.

Phase I of the project is currently being built. It includes apartments for 2,000 people in The Ramble and Viridian; an education center for Los Rios Community College; recreation and study facilities; a village square surrounded by neighborhood-serving retail; and 343 single-family homes for sale to faculty and staff.

A major element of the net zero energy plan is a 4-megawatt solar power system manufactured, designed, and installed by SunPower Corp. of San Jose, Calif.

The solar system 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.

“We expect SunPower’s high-efficiency technology to reliably deliver enough clean, emission-free power to help West Village achieve its zero net energy goals,” said Jim Pape, president of SunPower’s residential and commercial business group. “We applaud the aspirations of this unique community, and are confident it will serve as a model for similar developments around the world.”

In addition to the SunPower system, UC Davis West Village integrates sustainable-design elements to exceed California Title 24 building code energy use standards by 50 percent:

• Every apartment building is built with energy-conserving components including solar-reflective roof materials, radiant barrier roof sheathing, high-efficiency light fixtures, thick exterior walls for added insulation, and high-efficiency air conditioning systems and appliances.

• On-site water retention is maximized and materials from renewable sources are incorporated.

• Architectural elements such as roof overhangs and extensive use of sunshades over windows are designed to mitigate the specific solar exposure of each building.

• Residents will have technology tools to enhance control of their own energy use, including programmable energy management systems and SunPower monitoring, which provides information on solar system power generation and electricity usage.

For more information about UC Davis West Village, visit www.ucdaviswestvillage.com.

Publication date:06/27/2011