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Davis, California

Monday, February 26, 2024

UC Davis: eco-architecture powerhouse

Eco-friendly, state of the art, revolutionary; these terms get bandied about the UC Davis campus quite frequently … and for good reason. UC Davis has recently completed construction on a new research winery that seeks to be the first zero-net energy structure of its kind in the world. The structure has been awarded LEED Platinum status, the highest rating given to energy efficient structures by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and comes in four levels: LEED, LEED Silver, LEED Gold and LEED Platinum. There are only 85 LEED Platinum structures in the entire country, and three of them are here at UC Davis, more than all other UC campuses combined.

“The winery has very unique features related to the processes going on inside,” said Gary Dahl, director of project management at the UC Davis Design and Construction Management (DCM) office. “Much of the features of sustainability are specific to this structure.”

Among the many energy saving systems in the new winery are solar power cells, a rain-water capture system and a carbon dioxide fixing system. It was also designed so that during the day, there is virtually no need for artificial lighting.

“[The winery] uses ‘enhanced daylighting’ to fill the building with natural light,” said Clayton Halliday, assistant vice chancellor and campus architect in the DCM office. “Roof monitors bring natural light into the heart of the building so it is completely lit without any artificial light.”

The rain-water capture system stores up to 144,000 gallons of water that can be used for irrigation and in toilets. The clean rain-water is healthier for plants than Davis well water, which has a high mineral content. The water will also be used to clean the machinery in the winery and can then be filtered and re-used up to 10 times. This efficient use of water will show a 90 percent reduction in water usage compared to similar sized wineries. There is even enough storage to continue using captured rain-water during dry seasons.

In addition to efficient water and lighting, the winery’s carbon dioxide capture system will completely eliminate all carbon dioxide emissions from wine fermentation. This will in turn lead to lower energy costs for regulating air quality and temperature.

California already has some of the strictest energy codes in the nation, but those are far exceeded by any structure with LEED Platinum status.

“The new winery will exceed California Title 24 energy codes by 35 percent,” said Julianne Nola, senior project manager at the UC Davis DCM office.

This reduction in energy usage will amount to $31,000 in annual electricity savings.

A building that is designed for extreme efficiency costs more than a less efficient structure, but the accumulated savings over time are well worth the extra money up front.

“We are looking for a payback period of 10 years or less,” Halliday said.  “Some of the individual components are expected to pay for themselves in as few as five years.”

LEED certifications are determined by awarding points in six categories: site selection, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, indoor environmental quality and innovation in design. LEED requires a minimum of 26 points, 33 to 38 points for Silver, 39 to 51 points for Gold and 52 points and up for Platinum. The winery scored 60 points, surpassing even the most stringent of efficiency standards.

The winery was completely funded by private donations to construct and supply the $20 million complex.

UC Davis has over 20 LEED structures on campus including the new ASUCD Coffee House, which is LEED Gold; the Tercero Housing Phase II, also LEED Gold; and the new Graduate School of Management, which is LEED Platinum. The only other LEED Platinum structure on any of the 10 UC campuses is Bren Hall at UCSB.

HUDSON LOFCHIE can be reached at science@theaggie.org.


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