Aggressively incorporating PV into its campus, The Univ. of California-Davis’ growing net-zero West Village is expanding to provide housing for faculty and staff—a plan not only to encourage a more sustainable lifestyle, but also a means to provide affordable housing.
UC Davis West Village, the nation’s largest planned zero net energy community, continues to work toward its goal of producing 100 percent of the energy it uses.
A 2015 report released by UC Davis and the West Village Community Partnership LLC said the community is 82 percent of its way toward reaching zero net energy, or ZNE. The analysis covers the time period between September 2013 and August 2014.
“The neighborhood is close to where we want it to be, but we still are not at the finish line,” said Sid England, assistant vice chancellor of the UC Davis Office of Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability. “I think we’re on track to get to 100 percent in the long-term. Along the way, we’ve learned some valuable lessons that we hope can inform other developments in California and across the country.”
The report shows West Village’s 4.1 megawatts of photovoltaic panels produced 102 percent of their expected energy. However, this production was only 82 percent of the actual demand. Residential use accounted for 88 percent of the demand with 7 percent from commercial and office use, and 5 percent from the student center and maintenance facilities. Achieving zero net energy for West Village will depend on increasing photovoltaic production, reducing demand, or some combination of both, the report says.
Several actions have been taken to improve energy performance at West Village. These include: solar panels were cleaned more regularly to enhance energy production; more efficient pumps were installed at the community pools and spa; and the community has initiated programs to educate residents about wise energy use.