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Living Green at UC Davis

How to Offer Students Zero-Net Energy Living

The California Aggie's Alyssa Kuhlman recently spotlighted the West Village student housing community on the UC Davis campus, which holds the distinction of being the biggest zero net energy planned community in the country. The community offers The Ramble Apartments for UC Davis students; Viridian Apartments for UC Davis undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and staff members; and will be opening 475 single-family homes in the next few months. Also under construction is the Solstice Apartments community that will house even more UC Davis students. 

The community is a $280 million project funded with the help of $7.5 million in federal and state grants to study zero net energy systems. The goal is to offer residents a sustainable atmosphere that preserves the environment and teaches them to live in an eco-friendly fashion. Each apartment includes floors made of 50 percent recycled material and countertops made from recycled quartz, along with water-saving toilets and showers. Ceiling fans are also in each unit. Together, these amenities contribute to West Village’s 50 percent reduction in energy usage compared to traditionally designed buildings. 

West Village measures its net energy on an annual basis to assure that it equals zero. This means the amount of energy that is being put in is the same amount that comes out -- a process that is usually made possible by solar panels, geothermal or hot water heating, and wind and solar power. 

Erika Perez, marketing and relations manager of West Village, says residents are also encouraged to turn off their lights before leaving a room, close the blinds to keep each unit cool, and open up the windows in the evening hours to have the natural delta breeze current come and cool the living space. She concludes, "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." 

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