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A year later: Progress at UC Davis West Village

February 1, 2013

students disembark from a bus at West Village at UC Davis

Students disembark from a bus at West Village at UC Davis. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis photo)

Since officially opening in October 2011, UC Davis West Village continues to grow both physically and academically, as a community and energy research hub for students, staff and faculty residents to live and learn.

Zero net energy

Nearly a year since the first solar panels were installed at UC Davis West Village in March 2012, the nation’s largest planned zero net energy community appears to be on track to meet its goal of producing as much energy as it consumes.

While it is too soon to tell whether West Village will meet its zero net energy goal this year, developer Carmel Partners of San Francisco said preliminary data shows zero net energy is within reach.

“The project is not fully built or stabilized, so it is too early to tell,” said Stephanie Martling, asset manager at Carmel Partners. “Data is starting to come in, and the data looks good. However until the project is fully stabilized, we will not know whether the project is meeting its goal of zero net energy.”

Martling said the project was built as designed, the solar panels are functioning as intended and producing their full potential, and residents are using the amount of electricity expected.

“We are actively trying to educate residents on how to reduce their consumption, paying particular attention to units showing higher energy use than others,” Martling said.

Sid England, UC Davis’ assistant vice chancellor of environmental stewardship and sustainability, said such considerations were expected, given that a project of this size had not been done before.  “As the project grows and changes, some parts perform as expected and some do not, which Carmel Partners is evaluating to keep on track to meet the goal of zero net energy,” England said. “This is consistent with the idea of UC Davis West Village as a living laboratory that balances energy efficiency with renewable energy generation.”

Research and education

  • The university’s first “uHub,” or innovation center, is taking shape at UC Davis West Village. Several of the university’s energy research centers began relocating to West Village in December 2012. They include: the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies, which includes the Plug-In Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Research Center; China Center for Energy and Transportation; Sustainable Transportation Energy Pathways (STEPs); and Urban Land Use and Transportation Center. Also newly relocated are the Center for Water-Energy Efficiency; the Energy Efficiency Center; the Policy Institute for Energy, Environment and the Economy; and the Western Cooling Efficiency Center.

    By concentrating this energy research hub at UC Davis West Village, the centers are expected to enhance the living laboratory of the West Village project while fostering interactions with the private sector in the area of energy research.

  • Sacramento City College Davis Center celebrated its one-year anniversary at UC Davis West Village on Jan. 14, 2013. Last year, the school became the first community college center to be built on a University of California campus. It opened in 2012 to 2,000 students. This year, its enrollment includes about 2,300 students. Roughly 220 students from Sacramento City College transfer to UC Davis each year.

Construction

  • There are 507 units for 1,476 residents living in the Viridian and Ramble apartment complexes. Current occupancy rate at the apartments is 99 percent.
  • A third complex, Solstice apartments, is under construction and scheduled for completion in fall 2013. Solstice will have 156 units for 504 residents.
  • Plans for the community’s $300 million first phase include 343 faculty/staff houses. In light of the current real estate market, timing for the housing construction is being evaluated by the West Village Community Partnership, LLC, a joint venture of developer Carmel Partners of San Francisco and Urban Villages of Denver.
  • When completed, the ambitious 130-acre development will be home to about 3,000 people.

West Village Community Partnership, LLC (a joint venture of Carmel Partners of San Francisco and Urban Villages of Denver), worked with UC Davis to bring the plans for UC Davis West Village to life. The developer has a 65-year ground lease with the university for the project.

About UC Davis

UC Davis is a global community of individuals united to better humanity and our natural world while seeking solutions to some of our most pressing challenges. Located near the California state capital, UC Davis has more than 34,000 students, and the full-time equivalent of 4,100 faculty and other academics and 17,400 staff. The campus has an annual research budget of over $750 million, a comprehensive health system and about two dozen specialized research centers. The university offers interdisciplinary graduate study and 99 undergraduate majors in four colleges and six professional schools.

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