A sustainability-focused UC Davis housing community is generating 87 percent of its own electricity, short of the university’s ambitious goal that the development produce all of the energy it consumes.So we have conflicting goals, no real reasons to conserve (other than to be a "good person"), even more taxpayer money subsidizing some of the state's most privileged (to use a favorite term of lefties) young people who probably haven't signed up for Obamacare and are still on their parents' insurance--and surprise that these good, young, liberal students are wasting electicity. Amazing.
The $300 million West Village campus project opened to much fanfare two years ago, riding on the hope that it would serve as a model for future construction.
Touted as the largest planned “zero net energy” community in the nation, West Village elicited great interest from politicians and newspapers alike. Millions of taxpayer dollars went into the private project, including $17 million from UC Davis for infrastructure and $2.5 million from the California Energy Commission...
Though West Village is producing the amount of energy that models predicted, resident consumption is significantly higher than expected, according to the report. Residents at The Ramble Apartments consumed 131 percent more energy than expected, while those at Viridian Apartments consumed 141 percent more, including 306 percent more in common areas.
The clubhouse, which includes a pool, gym and theater, exceeded consumption projections by 178 percent...
Another problem lies in the way residents are charged for utilities. Energy costs are built into the rent rather than based on usage, eliminating one financial incentive to conserve. Residents also say high rental rates discourage conservation.
“I take pretty long showers and always keep the lights on,” said resident Meghna Bhatt, 21, who pays $850 a month for a single bedroom. “There’s no incentive to conserve. Of course they’re not getting zero net energy.”
England explained the complex cannot charge for electricity based on usage due to state utility regulations. Carmel Partners said it is exploring ways to encourage residents to reduce their usage...
Braun pointed to conflicting missions at West Village as part of the hurdle in achieving zero net energy. Student tenants can exercise at the gym, print for free at the business center or take a dip in the resort-style pool.
“This a real estate development. It has a purpose to not just house students, but also attract them,” he said. “Meanwhile, the university also has a sustainability goal.”
But there's hope:
Despite the setbacks, England expressed hope that zero net energy is within reach. He predicted West Village would realize its goal in two years. A “biodigester” that would convert waste into energy is slated to go online in the next few months after being delayed.How long will the solar panels last? Will they recoup their cost? How much does it cost to maintain this type of community; is it more or less than a "standard" community? So many questions.