The city of Davis in California prides itself with having invented bike lanes in the 1960s.  Toda, the University of California – Davis is ranked the 8th “greenest” college in the U.S. by Sierra magazine (1).  It is proud to be home to several LEED Certified buildings, three of which have received LEED Platinum Certification, particularly the Robert Mondavi Institute’s brewery, wine, and food science laboratory which was the first facility ever to earn LEED Platinum (1).  It is also home to the nation’s largest net-zero community, the UC Davis West Village, which opened to residents in Autumn 2011.  In addition to its net-zero energy use, the mixed-use facility was developed with the following core principles in mind:

  • Housing Availability
  • Environmental Responsiveness
  • Quality of Place

Though it is not clear that the West Village development is LEED Certified, the development does addresses many aspects of LEED Certification, as discussed in the following sections.


West Village is located on outer edge of the UC Davis campus and is connected to the center of campus via bike paths, bike lanes, and by Unitrans, UCD’s public bus system, which is free to students.  West Village is also a mixed-use facility providing residents both retail, dining, and recreational services.  Streets have been designed in a traditional grid pattern.  Use of the bike lanes and the bus system will be encouraged by prohibiting West Village residents from purchasing campus parking permits (2).

Energy Use

The West Village development incorporates “aggressive energy efficiency measures and on-site renewable energy generation” to meet the development’s energy needs (3).  West Village Energy use is projected to be 50% below the recommended California standards.

To achieve this reduction, several techniques have been applied.  Walls are constructed with 2×6 studs rather than 2×4 studs to allow for more insulation (4).  Windows are shaded on both the interior and exterior to block direct sunlight in this cooling dominated climate.  Windows are provide daylight and lights are on sensors to minimize use (2).  Windows and patio doors open to allow for air flow in this breezy area.  Ceiling fans are installed in main living spaces to aid in air circulation.  Lighting is high efficiency and appliances are energy star rated (2).


Exterior building features, such as solar-reflective roofing and radiant barrier roof sheathing, not only reduce building energy use but also decrease the heat island effect for this development (3).

“A programmable, high-efficiency heat pump heating and cooling system” is used to meet the actual heating and cooling requirements of the buildings.  Heat pumps have a relatively high efficiency compared to traditional furnaces and air conditioners.  To meet the electricity demand of West Village, a 4 MW solar photovoltaic system is planned for the development.  Davis may also be part of the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), a district famous for its proactive use of alternative energy.

Water Efficiency

Water use facilities have been built with water saving toilets (1.28 gpf) and low-flow fixtures (1.5 gpm) that use air rather than water to generate greater water pressure (2).  Landscaping also incorporates drought resistant plants (3).

Indoor Air Quality

Use of low VOC paint and interior finishes (2).

Materials and Resources

Use of flooring material with 50% recycled content and “Ecoquartz ™ kitchen countertops made from recycled quartz” (2).

Innovative Research and Waste Management

“UC Davis is now nearing completion of a technical feasibility study for using a biodigester, employing technology developed by UC Davis Professor Ruihong Zhang, to turn campus food, animal and plant waste into energy. The feed stock has been lab tested for the gas and energy it produces; live testing at the biodigester prototype on campus is expected be under way in late 2011. (3)”

Residential unit features (5)

A. Solar panels cover much of the roofs and uncovered areas are light in color to reflect heat.

B. Radiant barrier roof sheathing keeps inside temperature consistent.

C. Upgraded insulation provides greater protection than industry standard insulation.

D. Low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paint. VOCs are poisonous chemicals that can cause disease and air pollution.

E. Low-flow faucets

F. Low-flow toilets

G. Ceiling fans

H. Oversized windows for natural light

I.Energy Star appliances

J. Floor material 50 percent recycled

K.Eco-quartz countertops

L. Low-VOC finish on cabinets

Works Cited

1. UC Davis Dateline. UC Davis News and Information. [Online] 8 19, 2011. [Cited: 3 18, 2012.]

2. UC Davis. West Village Living. West Village. [Online] [Cited: 3 18, 2012.]

3. —. Energy. West Village. [Online] [Cited: 3 18, 2012.]

4. —. Press-Kit Backgrounder. West Village. [Online] [Cited: 3 19, 2012.]