Davis, Calif. – The country's largest "zero net energy" community — designed to generate as much energy as it consumes – officially opens Saturday on the campus of the University of California at Davis, some 80 miles northeast of San Francisco.
While individual homes and commercial buildings that use zero net energy over the course of a year have been built in a handful of U.S. states (and nearly a dozen countries), the university says this is the largest planned community of its kind in the U.S.
The stylish development has a bit of a resort-like feel, with a pool area, outdoor barbecue grills and a sand volleyball court behind a spacious student recreation center with towering glass walls enclosing a fitness center, ping pong tables and a video game-playing area (on huge flat-screen TVs), among other amenities. Apartment buildings are centered around courtyards and oriented to capture the nighttime cooling breezes from the Sacramento delta. Solar panels on the roof of every building and on canopies over parking areas — in total a 4 megawatt photovoltaic system — will generate enough electricity over the course of the year to meet all the needs of the residents, the planners say. In the summer and on hot sunny days like Davis saw late this week, the solar panels will ideally generate even more electricity than is needed for the site and send some back to the grid. At night, as the apartments pull electricity from the grid, the use is intended to balance out the excess power produced during the day.
Joy Hughes, Founder, Solar Gardens Institute http://www.solargardens.org
CEO, Solar Panel Hosting LLC http://www.solarpanelhosting.com