West Village, a housing complex located on the UC Davis campus, is the largest zero net energy planned community in the nation.
The community currently offers The Ramble Apartments for UC Davis students, Viridian Apartments for UC Davis undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and staff, and will be opening 475 single family homes in the next few months. Solstice Apartments are also currently under construction and will house more UC Davis students. West Village also includes the campus of Sacramento City College, a part of the Los Rios Community College District.
This community, a $280 million project funded with the help of $7.5 million in federal and state grants to study zero net energy systems, offers residents a sustainable atmosphere that saves the environment and teaches them to live in an eco-friendly fashion.
The apartments include floors made of 50 percent recycled material and countertops made from recycled quartz, water-saving toilets, showers and ceiling fans. This all contributes to West Village’s 50 percent reduction in energy usage compared to traditionally designed buildings.
Kendra Chan, a second-year evolutionary, ecology and biodiversity major, said she liked the fact that The Ramble had solar panels on the roofs of the buildings, along with other aspects of the apartment complex.
“I definitely like it here, the atmosphere is relaxed and the facilities are really nice,” she said.
Sid England, assistant vice chancellor of Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability at UC Davis, reports that West Village measures its net energy annually to assure that it equals zero.
Zero-net energy involves a process in which the amount of energy being put in is the same amount that comes out. This is usually made possible by solar panels, geothermal or hot water heating, along with wind and solar power. This can significantly reduce the emission of greenhouse gases and fossil fuels.
According to Erika Perez, the marketing and relations manager of West Village, residents are also encouraged to turn off their lights before leaving the room, close the blinds to keep the apartment cool and open up the windows in the evening to have the natural delta breeze current come and cool the apartment.
“Our residents, on top of having [many] green aspects [in the community], really take an active role in incorporating green techniques in their everyday lifestyles to really help achieve the overall goal of being a net zero energy community,” Perez said.
While the 1,280 residents of The Ramble primarily include UC Davis students, there is also a small number of Sacramento City College students living in the complex. A certain percentage of Sacramento City College students are allowed to live at The Ramble, yet the community is still primarily for housing UC Davis students.
As West Village offers living for more students, it also serves as an inspiration for the inception of other sustainable environmental goals, such as UC Davis’ prospective first ever biodigester. The biodigester would be on the far western end of campus on the old landfill site.
The biodigester would further carry out the energy-saving goals modeled in West Village, according to England.
“It’s a winner,” England said. “We get to avert waste from landfills, generate green renewable energy, and we get to promote our own research products from the campus with our own research technologies.”
ALYSSA KUHLMAN can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.