Archives for category: Energy Efficiency

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.]



Hey guys and girls of UD RCL, when you get a chance, check out this video from Justin Hall-Tipping explains his organization’s take on the convergence of energy efficiency and nano technology and few very cool ideas about the energy efficient windows of the future, wireless/gridless energy transmission etc .

The FedEx Cargo Relocation Facility, is part of the O’Hare Modernization Program (OMP), now includes the largest green roof in the City of Chicago. The 3.9 acre structure is the size of three football fields or roughly 175,000 square feet.

The roof is visible from planes as they take off and land from O’Hare. Globally, this is the second largest green roof structure, behind a green roof at the Frankfort, Germany airport.

Designed and developed by Intrinsic Landscaping, Inc., the FedEx Cargo building is one of 12 green roof structures between O’Hare International and Midway Airport. Most airports are made of large areas of impermeable concrete surfaces. Green roofs cool the urban heat island effect and help with storm water management. In addition, they reduce noise, air pollution and lower energy costs.

“Green roofs act like a sponge for heat, light and water and they conserve energy by maintaining a constant temperature inside the building,” said FedEx Deputy Commissioner of Sustainability Amy Malick.

FedEx calculates that this structure will save 20 cents per square foot of green roof per year on energy costs alone and will absorb approximately two million gallons of storm water each year.

“The creation of the green roof space is a key component of going green across Chicago, and at both airports,” said Rosemaire S. Andolino, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Aviation. “I want to commend FedEx for making sustainability a priority on their new replacement cargo facility at O’Hare.”

FedEx and the OPM are pursuing LEED Gold certification for the facility, which would extend the company’s intent, announced earlier this year, of LEED certification for all new FedEx properties.

The FedEx facility is the latest success in many initiatives to make O’Hare greener, such as building LEED certified airport facilities, recycling construction materials on the airfield, utilizing clean emission vehicles and construction equipment, installing energy efficient lighting and providing a habitat for honeybees in the airport apiary.

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In his State of the Union address, President Obama laid out his vision for investing in innovative clean-energy technologies and doubling the share of electricity from clean-energy sources by 2035. Additionally, President Obama is proposing new efforts to improve energy efficiency in commercial buildings across the country. Last year, commercial buildings consumed approximately 20 percent of all energy in the U.S. economy. President Obama’s Better Buildings Initiative will make commercial buildings 20 percent more energy-efficient over the next decade by catalyzing private-sector investment through a series of incentives to upgrade offices, stores, schools and other municipal buildings, universities, hospitals, and commercial buildings.

This initiative builds on investments through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) as well as the President’s proposed “HOMESTAR” legislation to encourage U.S. families to make energy saving upgrades in their homes.

Highlights include:

  • Achieve a 20-percent energy-efficiency improvement in U.S. commercial buildings by 2020 through cost-effective upgrades.
  • Reduce companies’ and business owners’ energy bills by about $40 billion per year by making buildings more energy efficient.
  • Save energy by reforming outdated incentives and challenging the private sector to act. President Obama is calling for an aggressive reform of existing tax and other incentives for commercial-building retrofits and proposing a new competitive grant program. In turn, he is asking corporate leaders to commit to making progress toward his energy goals.

A Plan for Better Buildings

President Obama’s budget will propose to make U.S. businesses more energy efficient through a series of new initiatives, such as:

  • New tax incentives for building efficiency. President Obama is asking Congress to redesign the current tax deduction for commercial-building upgrades, transforming the current deduction to a credit that is more generous and will encourage building owners and real-estate investment trusts (REITs) to retrofit their properties.
  • More financing opportunities for commercial retrofits. Access to financing is a barrier to increased retrofit investment in some market segments. To address these gaps, the U.S. Small Business Administration is encouraging existing lenders to take advantage of recently increased loan size limits to promote new energy-efficiency retrofit loans for small businesses. The budget also will propose a new pilot program through the U.S. Department of Energy to guarantee loans for energy-efficiency upgrades at hospitals, schools, and commercial buildings.
  • A “Race to Green” for state and municipal governments that streamline regulations and attract private investment for retrofit projects. Much of the authority to alter codes, regulations, and performance standards relating to commercial energy efficiency lies in the jurisdiction of states and localities. The budget will propose new competitive grants to states and/or local governments that streamline standards, encouraging upgrades and attracting private-sector investment.
  • The Better Buildings Challenge. President Obama is challenging chief executive officers and university presidents to make their organizations leaders in saving energy. Partners will commit to a series of actions to make their facilities more efficient. They then will become eligible for benefits, such as public recognition, technical assistance, and best-practices sharing through a network of peers.
  • Training the next generation of commercial-building technology workers. Using existing authorities, the Obama Administration is implementing a number of reforms, including improving transparency around energy-efficiency performance, launching a Building Construction Technology Extension Partnership modeled on the Manufacturing Extension Partnership at Commerce, and providing more workforce training in areas such as energy auditing and building operations.

Original Article  >>

(Reuters) – President Barack Obama announced a new clean energy program in Pennsylvania on Thursday, seeking to show he remains focused on jobs in a state that may be essential to his 2012 re-election prospects.

Obama outlined a plan in his State of the Union address last month to encourage clean energy technologies and to double by 2035 the U.S. share of electricity from clean energy sources such as wind, solar, nuclear and “clean” coal.

As part of that program, Obama announced a plan to improve energy efficiency in U.S. commercial buildings by offering businesses incentives to help pay for upgrades of offices, stores and other buildings, which he said consume 40 percent of the energy Americans use, and could save $40 billion a year.

“Making our buildings more energy efficient is one of the fastest, easiest and cheapest ways to save money, combat pollution and create jobs right here in the United States of America,” Obama told a jammed sports hall at the Pennsylvania State University.

“To get the private sector to lead by example, I’m also issuing a challenge to CEOs, to labor, to building owners, to hospitals, universities and others, to join us,” he said.

Former President Bill Clinton and General Electric Co Chief Executive Jeffrey Immelt will lead this outreach to the private sector, a White House official said. Obama tapped Immelt last month as his top outside economic adviser to chair a presidential panel on jobs and competitiveness.

Obama’s push for the United States to build a green economy is part of a global race to dominate what is seen as a potentially huge industry in solar, wind and other alternative energies that offer wealth and energy independence.


With U.S. unemployment at 9.4 percent despite signs of economic recovery, Obama’s push for green energy jobs is an important part of his high-stakes effort to tackle joblessness — the problem most on the minds of voters, even as issues like the turmoil in Egypt dominate the headlines.

“If we want those jobs and businesses to thrive in the United States of America, we are going to have to out-innovate and out-educate and out-build the rest of the world,” he said.

Obama’s Better Buildings Initiative is meant to achieve a 20 percent improvement in energy efficiency by 2020, reduce companies’ and business owners’ energy bills by about $40 billion per year and save energy, the White House said.

“This initiative has the potential to really unlock a large amount of investment, some of which is sitting on the sidelines right now … and create jobs at a time when that has to be our central focus,” a senior Obama administration official said on Wednesday.

Administration officials would not detail the plan’s cost but said it would be paid for by ending tax subsidies for oil, natural gas and other fossil fuels. The proposal needs congressional approval and that might be a tough sell on Capitol Hill.

Obama took Pennsylvania with a margin of more than 10 percentage points over Republican challenger John McCain when he won the presidency in 2008. In 2010, the state’s voters backed Republicans for governor, a U.S. Senate seat and a majority of its seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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