Study Shows Net Zero Davis is Possible and Needed

UCDavisVeridianby F. Mark Braly

Davis is the first city in the nation to adopt the goal of carbon neutrality by the middle of this century.  This ground-breaking goal will entail a three-step process – net zero electricity, net zero energy, and finally net zero carbon.  This is a finding of a white paper issued today by the UC Davis Energy Institute and the Valley Climate Action Center.

All of these “net zero” goals are achievable through maximum cost-effective reductions in demand for energy, supplemented by renewable energy – solar, wind, bioenergy, and geothermal heat stored in the ground.

“The biggest barrier to achieving a net zero goal,” according to the report, “is the need for timely decisions backed up by credible analysis and reliable data.  The need is for decision support for Davis governmental leaders and energy users.”  Recommendations include:

  • The city must work with its energy utility PG&E to get finely detailed end-use data which shows time variations in energy demand and the location of the energy-use “hot spots.” These “hot spots” are where there is the greatest opportunity to displace carbon-based energy. State legislation allows cities considering Community Choice Aggregation (CCA, a new form of local government-owned utilities) to get this data.
  • Every building in Davis should have its own step-by-step long range master plan for zero carbon. The city should be a dynamic source of information for property owners about best available technologies, incentives and innovative financing opportunities, reliable local contractors, and purchasing cooperatives for volume discounts. Policy and funding is needed to provide living demonstrations of net zero improvements in the major types of existing buildings.
  • The city should work with the private sector to upgrade local industry capacity and jobs while bringing innovative clean energy products and services to Davis residents and businesses.
  • The city should conduct surveys to determine what individual households and property owners are willing to do to help the city achieve its climate action goals. Such efforts are underway now – led by the Cool Davis Initiative – as the city competes starting April 1 in the Cool California Cities Challenge.
  • With 51% of its dwelling units rented, the city must overcome a split incentive hurdle – in which tenants often pay the utility bills, but landlords must make the investments in energy improvements. Valuable incentives are becoming available for solar water heating installations in multi-family buildings, as well as innovative and attractive financing tied to the property title (commonly referred to as PACE, an acronym for “property-assessed clean energy financing”). The city and university must take cooperative steps to promote lower utility bills in in the local rental market.
  • Link plug-in electric vehicles to solar or other renewable energy systems so that recharging vehicles doesn’t add to peak utility loads or the city’s carbon footprint. Electric vehicle charging must be managed to harness low-cost, excess nighttime power. With this step, consumers will benefit by capping their fuel costs for many years into the future.
  • Develop an economic optimization model to identify the best mix of local renewable energy resources for Davis.

The study shows that energy efficiency opportunities for Davis’ existing stock of buildings are huge.  About 42% of Davis dwelling units were built before 1978 when the state’s Title 24 energy code went into effect.   There is potential to reduce electricity use by 24% and gas by 14% by 2016 using cost-effective improvements currently available.  Later this year, AB 1103 will take effect and require all commercial buildings to be benchmarked for energy efficiency in relation to the federal Energy Star rating system before they are sold, leased or financed.   The city’s experience with this segment of the market could lead to similar programs for apartment buildings and homes.

The report lists Davis’ advantages and disadvantages for achieving its climate goals.   A disadvantage is its large number of rental units and its transient population of students.

Advantages include its environmentally-conscious residents.  Evidence for this is the 7 megawatts of solar capacity already funded by private investments in and around Davis, which comprises a solid share of Davis’ 50 megawatts of energy demand.  With an increasing percentage of the city’s unshaded roof tops covered by solar panels, the study recommends the innovative concept of “solar gardens” that would allow residents to buy solar energy from community-scale installations such as PVUSA.  Davis and other local governments will have to push for legislation that permits solar gardens to deliver renewable energy locally through lines owned by incumbent utilities.  Senator Wolk is already sponsoring such legislation in SB 843.

Another Davis advantage is its world-class system of bicycle paths and bicyclists willing to meet some of their transportation needs using zero carbon pedal power.

Also, UC Davis is a national center of excellence on energy efficiency and renewable energy.  Campus expertise can help the city evaluate the best available practices from across the world.  Already, UC Davis’ net-zero-energy West Village development is providing important lessons and inspiration to city efforts.

“This report is an important step toward implementation of the city’s Climate Action and Adaptation Plan adopted in 2009,” notes Davis Mayor Joe Krovoza.  “We are deeply appreciative of the work of the UC Davis team and the Valley Climate Action Center.  Now it’s incumbent on all of us to put the finding to work for Davis.  I know we will.”

The study was done in collaboration with the UC Davis Energy Institute, directed by Professor Bryan Jenkins.  The team was organized by energy industry veteran Gerry Braun on behalf of the Energy Institute.  It was staffed by UC Davis energy experts and graduate students led by Alan Wecker.  It was funded by the Valley Climate Action Center (formerly Yolo Energy Efficiency Project.)    The team brought together academic, public and private sector experts to discuss zero options for Davis.

Currently, Mayor Krovoza is leading a series of meetings that include UC Davis, city, and private sector participants who are collaborating on proposals for further funding of the work recommended by the Net Zero Davis team.

The full report is available online at http://www.climateactioncenter.org

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56 Comments

  1. GreenandGolden

    Fantastic! Net Zero is the goal and California’s Title 24 is the avenue to get part way there. California law has partially decoupled electrical utility profits from usage, but we need more decoupling (don’t worry about PG&E, SCE, and the rest of the utilities; they and their investors will take the predictable profits that decoupling guarantees). Our Davis plans and those at UCD are beautiful models that will lead and inspire others. They will move us even closer to the goal. This post is very well done. Post like these are why, even on a busy day, one must read the Vanguard. You go Davis!

  2. biddlin

    “Advantages include its environmentally-conscious residents.” Recent comments on this blog regarding wood burning, water treatment and plastic bag bans would seem to call this statement into serious question .

  3. David M. Greenwald

    Biddlin: And judging by the comments here, you would never know that certain school measures would pass easily or that certain presidential candidates will win in Davis overwhelmingly.

  4. biddlin

    “Another Davis advantage is its world-class system of bicycle paths and bicyclists willing to meet some of their transportation needs using zero carbon pedal power.” With Davis’ anti-growth policies, bicycle friendly lanes may well become clogged with walkers and wheelchairs(and the mini-vans to transport them for medical appointments and shopping), as younger folks will be forced to live, work and raise their families elsewhere.

  5. biddlin

    ” Already, UC Davis’ net-zero-energy West Village development is providing important lessons and inspiration to city efforts.” Indeed, there may be lessons learned from West Village . From what some early residents are saying problems with appliances, electrical, sound proofing and build quality abound .

  6. medwoman

    91 Octane

    “just that minor little obstacle to all these pie-in-the-sky fantasies.”

    I’m sure this was also said about automobiles, airplanes, space travel, nearly instantaneous communication throughout much of the world…….
    Yesterday’s fantasies are todays reality. What makes this such an impossibility in your mind ?

  7. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]From what some early residents are saying problems with appliances, electrical, sound proofing and build quality abound .[/quote]

    I know my new energy efficient appliances do not work nearly as well as the old appliances used to. I have to “wash” my dishes before they go into the dishwasher…

  8. E Roberts Musser

    One thing I am wondering – if cars must run on electricity, that electricity comes from some plant that pollutes. So ultimately, does the electric car actually pollute less? Any statistics on that?

    On another note, there is also that uncomfortable law of diminishing returns, where incremental improvements are so costly as to not be worth the trouble. Are we headed in that direction? Again, any statistics?

  9. David M. Greenwald

    “One thing I am wondering – if cars must run on electricity, that electricity comes from some plant that pollutes. So ultimately, does the electric car actually pollute less? Any statistics on that?”

    There are several factors:

    1. economy of scale which means efficiency of energy
    2. some electrical plants are cleaner than your car

  10. rusty49

    Green energy is really working out well for Germany….NOT

    “Germany once prided itself on being the “photovoltaic world champion”, doling out generous subsidies—totaling more than $130 billion, according to research from Germany’s Ruhr University—to citizens to invest in solar energy. But now the German government is vowing to cut the subsidies sooner than planned and to phase out support over the next five years. What went wrong?
    Subsidizing green technology is affordable only if it is done in tiny, tokenistic amounts. Using the government’s generous subsidies, Germans installed 7.5 gigawatts of photovoltaic capacity last year, more than double what the government had deemed “acceptable.” It is estimated that this increase alone will lead to a $260 hike in the average consumer’s annual power bill.
    According to Der Spiegel, even members of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s staff are now describing the policy as a massive money pit. Philipp Rösler, Germany’s minister of economics and technology, has called the spiraling solar subsidies a “threat to the economy.”

  11. Problem Is

    [quote]“Our Davis plans and those at UCD are beautiful models that will lead and inspire others.”[/quote]

    [b]GreenandGolden: Why Don’t You Take a Look at the UCD Campus[/b]
    Hundreds of thousands of square feet of academic building roof tops on that campus and not one solar panel for electricity generation or water heating. Not to mention UCD blasts the heat and air conditioning 24/7 from their steam plant and chilled water systems…

    [b]Talk Is Cheap[/b]
    Lovely rhetoric that meets with none of their actions from my Alma mater and former employer… UCD hypocrisy makes me laugh, my dear dreamer… The facts are quite different than the “beautiful models” that “inspire” you …

  12. Frankly

    Biddlin: [i]Advantages include its environmentally-conscious residents.” Recent comments on this blog regarding wood burning, water treatment and plastic bag bans would seem to call this statement into serious question .[/i]

    I think the difference is some include humans as part of the environment, and others seem to forget they exist and exist in a dream world made of a much small population living in communal solar-powered hemp huts, eating wild tubers and sustainable rodents.

  13. David M. Greenwald

    Jeff: you can certainly locate wacky quotes to prove your point, but I think most people recognize that humans are part of the environment but also wish to minimize our impact upon it or at least the negative impacts on it when possible.

  14. David M. Greenwald

    One of the problems some of the conservatives run up against here in arguing against this type of thing is that they are running in the face of new and interesting innovations. We now have examples of small scale zero net energy projects, the challenge will be adapting these innovations to larger scale projects and cities.

    To me this is the next wave of the economy and technological development.

    Are there hiccups? Always. When you attempt new things, they often don’t work the first time. Look no further than early attempts to build planes. But giving up is generally speaking not the best response. We’d have few real innovative or even revolutionary changes without failures.

  15. DT Businessman

    Thanks for sharing with us Mark. I for one am supportive of these goals. The 3rd bullet is critical to the effort; I sure hope it isn’t overlooked. David Gershon stated during his December presentation in the council chambers that a vibrant local economy is critical to carbon reduction efforts. That point generated zero response. Pairing carbon reduction efforts with eat and shop local public outreach would be a powerful one – two punch for community sustainability. Let’s make it happen.

    DT Businessman (aka Michael Bisch, Davis Commercial Properties, DDBA Co-Prez)

  16. David M. Greenwald

    “David Gershon stated during his December presentation in the council chambers that a vibrant local economy is critical to carbon reduction efforts. That point generated zero response.”

    Well you are correct. And the problem comes down to the same problem that was identified with bringing Target into town. You end up important and exporting everything and that promotes carbon waste.

  17. DT Businessman

    Another problem with Target is the bicycle and ped mode share for shopping trips to Target is half of that for the downtown and less than half of that to the neighborhood shopping centers. Hardly conducive to fostering a sustainable community. These statistics were revealed in the recently published study by UCD’s Institute for Transportation Studies. This too got zero play in the press and I have yet to see this being discussed in policy circles. All too often policy and project debates are framed too narrowly, instead of being framed as conducive or detrimental to community sustainability.

    DT Businessman (aka Tree Hugger 🙂

  18. 91 Octane

    medwoman: “I’m sure this was also said about automobiles, airplanes, space travel, nearly instantaneous communication throughout much of the world…….
    Yesterday’s fantasies are todays reality. What makes this such an impossibility in your mind ?”

    well, for starters, most of what you read here is a stated goal or objective, with no plan to get there. The devil is in the details, which I don’t see at all. The onlything that is crystal clear is the desire for more money (which is buried in the bullet points before I dug it out) so what are we really going to get?

    a. more better energy, and a better future,
    OR……
    b. a bunch of busiess interests in the solar and other industries filthy rich of government subsidies which Davis and co. are all too happy to provide with little to show for it.

  19. rusty49

    “b. a bunch of busiess interests in the solar and other industries filthy rich of government subsidies which Davis and co. are all too happy to provide with little to show for it.”

    For example: Germany

  20. David M. Greenwald

    “The devil is in the details, which I don’t see at all”

    That’s because first you set a goal – that’s going to take some work for there to be consensus on the goal. Then you develop an action plan. Then you implement the plan. When you make comments like “the devil is in the details” and that you don’t see them, you set yourself up as being naive about how public processes function.

  21. GreenandGolden

    Dear Problem is:

    Not so very sour, please! UCD is workin’ on it.

    “UC Davis West Village is the largest Zero Net Energy development of its kind in the nation. By employing revolutionary energy efficiency measures and meeting the community’s energy demands through on-site solar power generation, UC Davis West Village essentially eliminates its energy footprint for a net zero energy impact.”
    http://www.ucdaviswestvillage.com/

    And,

    “Bodega Marine Laboratory would like to pursue a solar energy system to provide clean, renewable energy to cover 100% of electrical consumption. Based on the average annual electrical usage in the last five years, the goal is currently estimated at 1,629,196 kilowatts per year,…”

  22. David Suder

    [quote]the goal is currently estimated at 1,629,196 kilowatts per year…[/quote]They didn’t actually say “kilowatts per year,” did they? There is no such unit.

    That would be like saying “50 miles per hour per day.”

    There are kilowatt[i]-hours[/i] per year.

  23. David Suder

    UCD could reduce their energy use and be much more dark-sky friendly if they would turn off those @$*% klieg lights on the athletic fields when the fields are not being used. They are often on until late at night. The light pollution from those things is brutal to those of us who like to occasionally watch the night sky. The Milky Way is pretty cool…but you can’t see it from Davis when those lights are on.

  24. biddlin

    David Suder: Amen to that . I have wondered why everyone seems so worried about a few navigation lights on radio towers with the all the loose lumens from UCD .

  25. GreenandGolden

    David Suder: Yer right! The document that I copied had clearly left off the “h” from kWh. I realized it as I was biking to my next appointment. The number must be 1,629,196 kWh averaged by year over 5 years (or something). Am working on a more authoritative source than that document. I recall from that meeting that BML was bringing their consumption down a lot in recent years.

    And, you and I share the loose lumen from UCD worries. I’ve left a call with the highest dude that I could find in the UCD phone book to try to find out what the story is with that behavior. It has been going on for a long time.

  26. Frankly

    [i]”Another problem with Target is the bicycle and ped mode share for shopping trips to Target is half of that for the downtown and less than half of that to the neighborhood shopping centers.”[/i]

    The useful metric here is the percentage of bike and ped traffic per dollar of sales. What is the percentage of Target sales compared to downtown sales?

    The anit-Target crowd has gone a bit silent after the published study saying it not only increased sales tax revenue, but it increased the amount of downtown business too.

  27. David M. Greenwald

    “The anit-Target crowd has gone a bit silent after the published study saying it not only increased sales tax revenue, but it increased the amount of downtown business too.”

    It seems like it’s been a dead issue for some time, but I’m not sure how any study could conclude that. I don’t think most people are even aware of such a survey. So I think you just threw out a giant straw man argument.

  28. Frankly

    [i]”Jeff: you can certainly locate wacky quotes to prove your point, but I think most people recognize that humans are part of the environment but also wish to minimize our impact upon it or at least the negative impacts on it when possible.”[/i]

    David, that is just my quote.

    I do agree with your point. However, it is a matter of balance. I find many environmentalist way out of balance… mistaking emotional impulses for rational thought. That is why they keep bouncing back and forth on issues like ping pong balls. Paper… no plastic… no paper… no plastic… no reusable… no paper… no just hand carry your products… no just grow your own… no just use natural fertilizer… no that causes methane and warms the earth… arg!!!

    Do we stop logging to save the forests only so when they catch fire they burn much hotter and destroy everything?

    Do we protect the deer until they populate the planet like so many giant foliage-stripping rats?

    Do we protect the mountain lion or thin his population as the growth in numbers threatens the endangered Sierra Mountain Goat?

    As a cross-point, I think Ducks Unlimited has done more for preserving California natural wetland than all the wacko environmentalists combined.

    Where is the freakin’ common sense? Plastic bags are convenient and useful and they do NOT harm the environment enough to warrant all this environmental-activism against them. You folks on the anti-plastic bag crusade obviously have too much time on your hands. Related to this, I would love to do a survey of how many supporting the ban are current or ex-public sector employees. I might be wrong about this, but I think people working in the private sector or more apt to worry about the lack of single use bags when they are driving home from work at 6:30 PM after their normal 9 or 10-hour day needing to stop at the grocery store on the way… and remembering that they forgot to replace all the nasty reusable bags they have to keep stuffed in the back seat or trunk of their car.

    By the way, let’s not forget the first argument that these bags were making their way into the ocean where they impacted sea life. That might make some sense in San Francisco, but not Davis.

  29. Don Shor

    I have requested and am awaiting the figures from the city, Jeff, to demonstrate the harm Target has done to the peripheral shopping centers and downtown. But your statement that [i]”It not only increased sales tax revenue, but it increased the amount of downtown business too”[/i] is incorrect, is not derived from the article you read, and is simply, completely, totally false. It’s not just a straw man. It’s a fabrication.

  30. David M. Greenwald

    Jeff:

    I actually don’t disagree with a lot of what you say, though I do think bags overall harm the environment and I’m convinced that we need to start/ continue cutting down on waste and disposable products.

    I think raising the issue of the ordinance is important, it will generate discussion, I think there are flaws in the current form that will get ironed out in the process.

    “You folks on the anti-plastic bag crusade obviously have too much time on your hands”

    Anyone accusing me of having too much time on my hands…

    Don:

    Do you have a link?

  31. Frankly

    From the article in the Davis Enterprise…

    [quote]According to a study by a research team from the Institute of Transportation Studies at UC Davis, the downtown has not seen a substantial reduction in shopping frequency since Target opened in 2009 on the east side of the city.

    “The biggest changes we saw were for shopping outside of Davis. That declined,” said Susan Handy, the UCD professor of environmental policy and planning who oversaw the study. “Shopping at stores outside of downtown declined after Target opened (as well), but for shopping downtown, we did not see very much change.”

    Handy and her research team — made up of two faculty members, a research economist, a postdoctorate student and a graduate student — set out in 2009 on a “before-and-after” study that focused on vehicle miles of travel trends for Davis shoppers.

    The team wanted to find out how far and how often Davis shoppers were traveling to different places of commerce.

    The study found that Davis shoppers were traveling 97 miles a month before Target was built, and about 79 miles a month after Target.

    In effect, Handy and her team discovered Davisites already had been hopping in their cars to drive to Woodland or West Sacramento to shop at big-box stores and that the Target store in Davis now kept that lost sales tax revenue in town.

    As for the impact on the downtown, the research team had asked a random sample of about 1,000 Davisites, among other questions, what types of items they bought in various shopping locations in the area, including segments such as the downtown core, stores in Davis outside the downtown, at Target and at stores outside of Davis (not Target).

    According to Handy, the study showed shoppers, generally, did not begin shopping for goods at Target that they previously had shopped for downtown.[/quote]

  32. Frankly

    [quote]“When we took a closer look, we realized there was less overlap than you might think,” Handy explained. “That’s not to say certain stores didn’t feel an effect … but overall we think Target was not drawing a lot of traffic away from downtown.

    “Actually, it sort of makes sense when you start to look at what kinds of things you can buy at Target versus what people are likely to be buying downtown,” Handy said.

    However, another table in the report showed the average trips per month downtown dropped from 3.3 to 3.0, representing about a 9 percent change.

    The study also found that businesses in Davis outside of the downtown core did see a substantial reduction in shoppers.

    “Davis stores outside of downtown — many of which are national chain stores — seemed to take a bigger hit, with significant reductions in the frequency of shopping there,” the report said.

    That news concerned Michael Bisch, co-president of the Davis Downtown Business Association, who believes the city needs to have a solid balance between its downtown businesses and peripheral businesses.

    “I think it makes it quite a challenge for retail in the residential neighborhood shopping centers if you have a big box on the periphery,” Bisch said.

    Handy also believes a couple of stores downtown may have been hurt as well, including Alphabet Moon Toys & Treasures, which closed in January. Owner Christine Hildebrand cited the overall economic downturn and the presence of Target as reasons for the closure.

    However, Handy says the data haven’t been fully analyzed to confirm if those factors really did contribute to Alphabet Moon’s closure.[/quote]

  33. Frankly

    [quote]“We haven’t yet looked at spending (though we have some data on this),” Handy wrote in an email. “So far (the study) is just how often people shopped in these different places. But I imagine the spending changes will follow a similar pattern.”

    Meanwhile, officials at City Hall are happy with the way Target has performed since it opened in October 2009.

    According to Paul Navazio, assistant city manager, Target has succeeded in Davis so far and Target executives say the store is doing well compared to many of their other stores.

    “Folks at Target are happy with its performance,” Navazio said last week.

    And because the Target store is only a part of the Second Street retail project that the city has not yet completed, Navazio says the store still has underperformed compared to what the city originally anticipated.

    The city still plans to add stores on the building sites ringing the Target parking lot that were dedicated to retail when Measure K was approved by voters in 2008.

    Navazio also said that, without Target, the city’s sales tax revenue picture would look a lot different.

    Sales tax receipts increased by 16 percent from October-December 2010 to October-December 2011, a city report shows. Statewide, sales tax has increased by 9 percent.

    “For now, the economy looks to be moving in the right direction,” the report said.

    Auto sales, the largest piece of the city’s sales tax pie, have seen a modest but steady rise since the first quarter of 2010, growing from about $230,000 in tax receipts that quarter to $275,000 in the third quarter of this fiscal year.

    Retail, the category that includes Target, comes in fifth on the city’s list of top sales tax generators.

    The top 25 sales/use tax generators in Davis include six automobile dealers, seven gas stations, two pharmacy/drug stores, three grocery stores, Target, Borders Books & Music (now closed), AT&T Mobility, OfficeMax, Davis Ace Hardware and a few other lumber/hardware stores.[/quote]

  34. Frankly

    So, the economy benefits, the city benefits, the downtown benefits and people are driving fewer miles. All the things us Target supporters said would happen.

    Don, I think you might want to visit target to by the egg to put on your face! =)

  35. Don Shor

    This is off topic, so I will reply briefly. Trips downtown reduced about 9%. There is no indication as to what fiscal impact that had on retailers downtown. “[b]Businesses in Davis outside of the downtown core did see a substantial reduction in shoppers.”[/b] Sales tax receipts went up in Davis (16%) by more than the state average increase (9%). [b]Auto sales tax receipts in Davis went up by 20%,[/b] so it is likely that accounts for much of it. It should be pretty easy to figure out where the difference came from, except that sales figures for specific stores are confidential. But those are some of the figures (by category, not store) I have requested from the city.

    Your statement that “it increased the amount of downtown business” is incorrect. I have no egg on my face.

  36. Don Shor

    We haven’t actually seen the study. The Enterprise article was a brief overview. It should be pretty simple, given how the Board of Equalization compiles data, to see what the impact is of a general merchandiser on specific other retailers. When I get the numbers, I’ll see if I can overcome my innate bias and present them for discussion here on the Vanguard without drawing too many conclusions.

  37. DT Businessman

    OK, time for a bit of confession. The Enterprise reporter called me to say he had a study in front of him proving the Downtown had not been harmed by the Target opening. My response was that it didn’t surprise me since there were a lot of negative economic trends (Target, online shopping, recession, competition from other area retailers, etc.) all hitting the Downtown at the same time. Due to a multitude of variables, it would be difficult to ascertain what impact Target has had. I also told the reporter that he should be extremely hesitant about reporting that Target had no negative impact on the Downtown since these studies were generally quite complex and full of nuances. I then asked the reporter to email the study to me. After we disconnected, I skimmed over the study and right off the bat saw the data stating that monthly Downtown shopping trips had declined 9.1%. I immediately brought that to the attention to the reporter, which is how that statistic made it into the Enterprise article. I still haven’t had a chance to review the study in detail, but one thing is certain. There is no way one can claim with a straight face that the Downtown hasn’t been harmed by the opening of Target. Downtown shopping trips are down almost 10%. Maybe it was due to Target, maybe it wasn’t. As so often is the case, there’s a disconnet between the data and the conclusion of the authors.

    And as I also pointed out to the reporter, there’s no data at all on the change in dollars spent, which is what really counts. The conclusions of the researchers and the reporting thereof is irresponsible. Don’t get me wrong, I hope all the retailers thrive, the Downtown retailers as well as Target. I don’t wish well on any business, except for the NRC. I’m kidding! It’s just a small joke.

    As I said previously, the bigger question in my mind is, does the opening of Target move us closer or further away from our community aspirations? The comments from Navazio, quoted by Jeff, are not persuasive. Sales tax generation is only one metric. What are the costs of the sales tax increase? Did they come at the expense of a homegrown retailer? Did it come at the expense of us being a less sustainable community, a less cohesive community? Did it come at the expense of less walking and biking? Or did it result in less Davis residents driving to Woodland, Dixon, and West Sac? I’m not sure the study answered these questions.

    DT Businessman (aka Tree Hugger 🙂

  38. DT Businessman

    I meant to write in my previous post, I don’t wish ill on anyone, except the NRC. I’m miffed, but still joking.

    DT Businessman (aka can’t even tell a joke without screwing-up)

  39. DT Businessman

    I hope you’re all attending the council candidates debate tomorrow, Thursday, 6:30pm, City Council Chambers, to see which one of the candidates is going to screw-up the local economy the most. 🙂

    DT Businessman (aka Did I nail that little funny?)

  40. Frankly

    [i]”Sales tax generation is only one metric.”[/i]

    DTB, That would seem to be a VERY important one these days.

    See you at the debate tomorrow (actually today!)

  41. Don Shor

    With regard to the topic of this thread, I think reducing energy use is obviously a laudable goal and this paper, as described, shows some general ways to get there. The problem I see, as I look at articles like this, is that the action items that would result require time from city staff, and funding.

    I think most of us agree that city staff is likely to shrink, possibly fairly drastically, and that resources aren’t going to be there for the city to fund anything. I’m dubious about the university, though their budgets are more fungible and might have room for energy initiatives.

    So a new structure (I don’t like the word paradigm, but it’s probably apt) will need to be developed first for implementing things like[i] “Policy and funding is needed to provide living demonstrations of net zero improvements in the major types of existing buildings.”[/i] At this time, the city council needs to prioritize how local government is going to be reduced. So people may object to funding new initiatives when public safety and parks are on the chopping block.

    Really, a useful followup study would look at what can be done at no cost to start achieving some of these goals. What are the low hanging fruit? For at least the next 5 – 10 years, I don’t think there are going to be resources for new initiatives. That’s just the reality. So if this isn’t going to be a study that just gets put on the shelf, a realistic action plan based on current budget realities would be needed.

    “The city should be a dynamic source of information…..” The city doesn’t have the money to staff that.
    “The city and university must take cooperative steps to promote lower utility bills in in the local rental market.” I don’t know how either public agency can promote lower utility bills.

  42. jimt

    A lot of established, reliable technology to save energy isn’t used as widespread as it could be:

    Better-insulated homes (including incorporating into design of new homes)
    e.g thick walls of adobe like material–the Spanish kept cool in such intelligently designed buildings before
    noisy, clunky, energy hungry ac units (I lived in a well-designed adobe house once; no need for ac)
    Passive solar; including special windows (best if incorporated into design of new homes)
    Intelligent use of windows (e.g. wide open after sunset during summer, turn on ordinary fan & turn off ac)
    Solar hot water heating
    Energy efficient appliances
    Heat pumps, especially for cooling indoor air during summer
    etc.; there are many more proven technologies that save energy and pay for themselves long-term.

    Regarding the example of Germany and their experience with solar photovoltaic energy; they just overdid it a bit, as the British did with wind energy. It’s not a matter of chucking photovoltaics and wind as energy sources; it’s a matter of intelligently designed policies that are tunable. Actually I’m surprised the Germans were so near break-even with their solar program, considering how much further north Germany is, and how much cloudier. With 20-30 year warranties on current solar panel systems; there is no question they are currently a good long-term investment; admittedly with the current tax breaks; as technology further matures its likely no subsidies/tax breaks will be needed and it will still be a good long-term investment; I think this is already true in southern California.

  43. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]That’s because first you set a goal – that’s going to take some work for there to be consensus on the goal. Then you develop an action plan. Then you implement the plan. When you make comments like “the devil is in the details” and that you don’t see them, you set yourself up as being naive about how public processes function.[/quote]

    If you are smart, and want your goal to have any credibility, you will suggest a tentative action plan. The “devil is in the details” is quite correct – and any proposer needs to at least have some inkling of how they are going to go about implementing any suggested goals…

  44. E Roberts Musser

    And as Don Shor correctly points out, with today’s poor economy, it is essential to have some sort of detail in how you are going to go about achieving laudable goals. There is no sense in discussing pie in the sky goals if there is zero chance of achievability (pun intended)…

  45. AeroDeo

    Apologies for being a bit late to the table here; I’d decided a while ago to be a lurker rather than an active participant, but I can’t seem to let this one go.

    I participated in this study, but, while I have the utmost respect for the authors, I heartily agree with the sentiment here that this exercise is very light on actionable recommendations… the devil is, indeed, in the details. It’s all too common for these types of initiatives to echo an established cause in an attempt to bring attention to a given issue without providing any discernible path forward. In this case, as many have pointed out, many of the potential measures capable of significantly reducing energy consumption in buildings have been around for a very long time… all it takes is money.

    Several groups within the UCD community (and many more outside organizations) have been entrenched in these issues for quite a while attempting to spread the gospel of energy efficiency and vet potential technologies that may help us reduce our energy consumption. However, aside from attempting to establish economic benefits, there are no driving forces behind any such goal and, IMO, Zero net is unenforceable.

    Having said that, here’s Aerodeo’s path =)

    1)[b]More insulation.[/b] Insulation is the cheapest most cost effective energy conservation measure… it’s nearly impossible to “overdo” it.

    2)[b]Proper insulation.[/b] Unfortunately, insulation is often applied without much scrutiny and is often far less effective than it could be. Fiberglass insulation should not be compressed at all; the resistance to heat transfer stems from the air it traps.

    3)[b]Fewer windows.[/b] Glass boxes sell… let’s be reasonable about our glazing and make sure we reduce south and west facing glass as much as possible. The ratings of currently mandated windows are actually fairly good, but a window is far from a well insulated wall.

    4)[b]Seal the leaks![/b] Buildings waste a tremendous amount of energy by simply leaking conditioned air.

    5)[b]Ventilate properly.[/b] Houses must breathe in order to keep their occupants healthy, but, once you’ve tightened the envelope, the ventilation systems become far more critical and, when done haphazardly, waste a huge amount of energy… but, have no fear, this can be achieved fairly simply.

    6)[b]Whole house fans.[/b] Bringing in cool night air and trapping it not only saves cooling energy it helps promote the cooling off of the thermal mass in the envelope making your house stay cooler longer.
    7)[b]Energy efficient cooling options (many possible combinations):[/b]

    [b]Radiant cooling.[/b] Ever rented a snazzy vacation home in Tahoe with heated floors? The same thing can be done to cool as well as heat your home and the energy savings in cooling a home this way are enormous.

    [b]Evaporative cooling.[/b] Evaporation can greatly enhance any cooling system and could be used to great effect in reducing energy.

    [b]Thermal storage.[/b] Dig a big hole in your yard and bury a big tank to store water and use the cool nighttime temperatures to cool the water. *note, this works best when combined with radiant cooling =).

    [b]Ground source heat pumps.[/b] Yet another cooling method that teeters on the edge of thermal storage, but it’s in the soil rather than contained.

    8)Solar.

  46. AeroDeo

    Off topic:
    As for plastic bag issue, the life cycle analysis of paper vs. plastic has found that, cradle to grave, plastic bags consume less energy and are therefore /i/more/i/ environmentally friendly than paper… but it’s moot if you bring your own cloth bags =).

    Regarding electric cars,
    “One thing I am wondering – if cars must run on electricity, that electricity comes from some plant that pollutes. So ultimately, does the electric car actually pollute less? Any statistics on that?”
    Several studies have addressed this, which is typically a life cycle analysis known as “well to wheel” efficiency and electric cars have many advantages.

    As to UCD’s commitment to energy efficiency:

    “GreenandGolden: Why Don’t You Take a Look at the UCD Campus
    Hundreds of thousands of square feet of academic building roof tops on that campus and not one solar panel for electricity generation or water heating. Not to mention UCD blasts the heat and air conditioning 24/7 from their steam plant and chilled water systems…

    Talk Is Cheap
    Lovely rhetoric that meets with none of their actions from my Alma mater and former employer… UCD hypocrisy makes me laugh, my dear dreamer… The facts are quite different than the “beautiful models” that “inspire” you …”

    UCD has undertaken one of the most ambitious goals of all UC campuses in trying to reduce its energy consumption by reducing its lighting energy consumption and its HVAC energy consumption to greatly exceed Title 24 standards – several examples abound. I think the above quote is a drastic oversimplification and ultimately unfounded.

    Pertaining to West Village:

    “Not so very sour, please! UCD is workin’ on it.

    “UC Davis West Village is the largest Zero Net Energy development of its kind in the nation. By employing revolutionary energy efficiency measures and meeting the community’s energy demands through on-site solar power generation, UC Davis West Village essentially eliminates its energy footprint for a net zero energy impact.”
    http://www.ucdaviswestvillage.com/”

    West Village was authorized by UCD but, ultimately, it was built and is operated/leased by a third party. It’s a great start, but there are significant challenges that have yet to be overcome and assumptions that have yet to be validated.

    Ok, that’s enough of, I’ll stop here, if anyone’s interested I can elaborate on anything you see here.

    Aerodeo

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