ARC Releases Environmental Sustainability Guidelines Ahead of Planning Commission Workshop

The Planning Commission will hold a workshop on Aggie Research Campus this coming Wednesday at their meeting—according to a city announcement the format will include a brief presentation by staff, a more detailed presentation by the applicant and then an opportunity for the public and members of the commission to comment.

The staff stresses that no decisions will be made at this meeting and the workshop is informational only.

The ARC project, proposed at 185 acres located to the east of the Mace Curve will include 2.65 million square feet of innovation space and 850 residential units.  This will apparently include a 160,000-square-foot hotel conference center of about 150 rooms, slightly larger than the Residence Inn about to open across the street.

In the meantime, the Aggie Research Center has released a set of environmental sustainability “guiding principles.”  According to an info sheet, “These Guiding Principles are a means for mandating, implementing and maintaining Project features that are designed to address and mitigate identified environmental concerns, including but not limited to impacts to global climate change, and to ensure sustainability for the life of the project.”

They write: “Critical to the success of the Aggie Research Campus is its ability to demonstrate continuous advancements in site sustainability during buildout and into campus operations.

“Many of the Sustainability Guiding Principles are designed to gradually increase site sustainability and further reduce Project impacts over time, such as improved air quality, reduced carbon emissions, greater electrical efficiency and reduced single-occupancy vehicle travel.”

These principles will “work in tandem with Project mitigation measures” in order to reduce environmental impacts.

On building standards:

  • “The Project shall meet and exceed Title 24, Cal Green Tier 1 and will utilize the City of Davis’ Residential Energy Reach Code standards.”

On Energy efficiency:

  • The applicants are pledging that “all structures consume 100 percent renewable electricity.”
  • There will be onsite solar energy generation with mandatory “photovoltaics on every conducive structure and in parking areas.”
  • The project will enter into a purchase and sale agreement with Valley Clean Energy and will sell and distribute all electricity generated onsite.
  • All onsite residential units will be all-electric.
  • “100% clean energy, Developer commits all structures, residential and non-residential, to purchase power from solely renewable sources such as Valley Clean Energy’s “UltraGreen” 100% renewable program or its equivalent, to offset any electric deficit.”
  • Achieve net zero for outdoor lighting.
  • “The Project will be designed and pre-wired for future microgrid capacity and energy storage.”

Transportation Management Plan:

  • Prior to the commencement of construction of each phase, a traffic study shall be prepared which measures in- and out-flow from the Project and identifies traffic patterns.
  • The Project shall be designed to accommodate internal, local and regional transit.
  • At Phase 1, Developer will implement an electric shuttle service running weekdays from the AM to PM peaks, connecting the ARC to UCD and the Amtrak station.
  • Developer will participate in and support Caltrans led efforts to add HOV lanes on I-80 from West Sacramento to Davis.
  • Developer will continue its relationship with Yolobus and Unitrans, both of which have bus service contiguous to the site, to increase the frequency and capacity of bus service as the Project develops.

Parking Lots

  • The goal is to “incentivize a mode shift to bicycling, public transit, private transit, or car pool.”
  • All streets and surface-level parking shall utilize low-impact development features.
  • Parking surfaces will utilize tree shading.
  • Landscaping shall provide 80% shading of pedestrian walkways and off-street Class I bike paths.
  • Parking preference and priority will be given to high occupancy vehicles (HOV) and electric vehicles (EV).
  • All commercial parking areas will be designed with infrastructure to gradually phase-in the installation of EV charging stations as demand grows.
  • All housing shall include one Level 2 EV charger per unit.

Landscaping and Water Conservation

  • “Native and drought tolerant plants shall predominate the plant pallet.”
  • Turf will be strongly discouraged.
  • Developer will engage with “the Center for Land Based Learning, the Davis Arboretum, or other local expert to design and manage its open and landscaped buffer areas.”
  • Landscape plans will be subject to City review including the Open Space and Habitat Commission and the Tree Commission.
  • “Developer will install recycled “purple pipe” infrastructure which will convey non-potable water for use in all landscaping.”
  • “All runoff will be captured, conveyed and detained onsite in a series of bioswales intended to filtrate and clean the run-off and maximize groundwater recharge.”

Housing

  • The inclusion of housing and an overall complementary mix of uses reduces the number and distance of project-related vehicular trips, encourages walking and bicycle trips, reduces air quality impacts and reduces the overall carbon footprint of the project.”
  • Housing will be medium and high density – 15 to 50 units per acre
  • No single-family detached housing.
  • Designed to meet the needs of workforce and will not resemble student-oriented housing found elsewhere in the City.
  • No unit greater than three bedrooms.
  • Rental apartments shall not exceed two bedrooms.
  • Housing construction directly linked to development of commercial space – ratio of one home per 2000 square feet of non-residential space.
  • Housing will be all electric and utilize Residential Energy Reach Code.
  • Multifamily rental units shall be charged separately for parking so that any resident may have the option of renting car-free housing.

Mitigation:

  • “The project shall comply with Mitigation Measures identified in the Approved Mitigation Monitoring Reporting Plan.”

—David M. Greenwald reporting


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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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12 Comments

  1. Don Shor

    Landscaping and Water Conservation
    “Native and drought tolerant plants shall predominate the plant pallet.”

    ‘Palette’ is the word you were looking for.

    Turf will be strongly discouraged.

    Turf areas should be focused where they will provide benefits. Turf is appropriate in common areas where people gather, and where the cooling effect will be beneficial. Turf should not be used in peripheral landscape areas and parking lots.

    Developer will engage with “the Center for Land Based Learning, the Davis Arboretum, or other local expert to design and manage its open and landscaped buffer areas.”

    This is odd. Neither of those organizations provide landscape design services to the best of my knowledge. CLBL could be consulted for ag buffer zones, I suppose. The developers should work with landscape design professionals who have proven portfolios using plants appropriate to this region.
    The project may or may not include a high percentage of California native plants, since we are in a grassland plant community and most of the native plants used in landscapes are actually Coast Range or foothill natives. This is not a habitat restoration project. The focus on California natives is often misplaced due to misconceptions about them.
    They will likely do best to consult initially with local landscape designers rather than landscape architects. No offense to the latter, but my experience is that the designers tend to be more plant oriented and the LA’s focus more on drainage, hardscape, etc. Examples of local firms include Ecological Landscaping, and Whole System Designs.

  2. Tim Keller

    This project should hold a VERY special place in our hearts and minds when we think of sustainability.   I’m not talking about the sustainability of the project itself; but what the project means for environmental sustainability globally.

    I have been trying to make space for local technology startups in this town for years now, and I see all of the companies that come through Davis looking for space.  I can tell you that a great number of the startups that will be accommodated at this development are focused on sustainable issues:  Whether that is alternative energy, clean transportation, or any one of a number of crop science companies, we absolutely need to make room for those companies to do their work – and if we don’t, it’s not just Davis that misses out – its our planet.

    The kind of opportunity that is being proposed at ARC is not something that is going to be available elsewhere.  For example, there are no other innovation parks that have research cropland as part of the mix, or who will have dedicated pads for the testing of alternative energy technologies.

    These are fields where UC Davis is a global leader, and if we don’t lead the charge with this development to make room for sustainable technologies to flourish, then everyone loses.

    Yes, I know that the topic at hand is “How sustainable is the proposed design of the ARC”  which is a different issue.  But I’m saying that even if the ARC was NOT designed with sustainable building practices in mind, it would still be a huge net win for sustainability on a global scale.

  3. Don Gibson

    This is really the type of project Davis needs when it comes to global sustainability. If UC Davis is going to continue as a leader in ag and green technology there actually needs space for companies to create sustainable products in Yolo County. Everyone has to leave Davis to do anything of significance outside of the university.

    Back in 2014, I was working on a start-up while working on my PhD at UC Davis. My team and I did not have space to actually create it when our company was founded. We spent a few Saturdays all in a car together driving down to Berkeley and back to try and get a company off the ground.  It was shocking to find that our best option to try and work on a product that would improve food sustainability was having to drive 3 hours a day to the bay area because there was no local infrastructure at the time.

  4. Meredith Chalfant Roberts

    This is exactly what Davis needs! I’m really excited as a 2x Aggie to see many years of vision and planning come together. Remember folks, by the time they break ground, the minutia including who picks out the flora (hopefully they do get the UCD Arboretum to weigh in, they know their plants and it might be a great way to engage students/campus more) will be hammered out. It IS Davis, and the community should and will care about all the details. So much potential here, excited to see how they progress through the initiatives outlined in this article, (also kudos to planning for a potential future microgrid option, smart).

  5. Todd Edelman

    Craig Ross said: “Surprised some of the opponents haven’t hammered on it yet.”
    Several community members with huge, unanswered or unresolved questions about “ARC” are excluded from this forum, either formally or through claimed abuse. Perhaps they will ask these questions in another Davis site. 

    Regarding the “Transportation Management Plan” and “Parking Lots” (curiously, its own category? Perhaps not since they are proposed to be built on a lot of farmland, and instead of housing), there’s simply a lot to go over! A developer representative wrote the BTSSC last month and when I saw him in person shortly thereafter he seemed to say he’d confirm some things about release of transport studies. I followed up but… locusts (the agricultural equivalent of “silence”).

    But since you asked…

    Transportation Management Plan:

    Prior to the commencement of construction of each phase, a traffic study shall be prepared which measures in- and out-flow from the Project and identifies traffic patterns. Which means what? What are the parameters? Will it mean that existing, completing phases can be adjusted? if so, based on what parameters?

    The Project shall be designed to accommodate internal, local and regional transit. What does that mean? Anything that is thrown at the Project? Everyone decides to drive there, that gets accommodated?  This is simply so very vague…

    At Phase 1, Developer will implement an electric shuttle service running weekdays from the AM to PM peaks, connecting the ARC to UCD and the Amtrak station. How many shuttles? Just meeting trains? What if the trains are running late, are people coming from UCD expected to wait on the shuttle? How much capacity is planned, and how much of the total of expected journeys will this represent?

    Developer will participate in and support Caltrans led efforts to add HOV lanes on I-80 from West Sacramento to Davis. What means “participate”? The Developer will supply funding, buses, drivers?

    Developer will continue its relationship with Yolobus and Unitrans, both of which have bus service contiguous to the site, to increase the frequency and capacity of bus service as the Project develops. OK, but how much of the modal share is this going to represent?

    Parking Lots

    The goal is to “incentivize a mode shift to bicycling, public transit, private transit, or car pool.” This is already a City goal; there’s nothing new here. What are the modal share goals or requirements?

    All streets and surface-level parking shall utilize low-impact development features. This is already a City or regulation, yes? If so, there’s nothing new here.

    Parking surfaces will utilize tree shading. Nearly certain this is already a regulation, so…

    Landscaping shall provide 80% shading of pedestrian walkways and off-street Class I bike paths. By when? 

    Parking preference and priority will be given to high occupancy vehicles (HOV) and electric vehicles (EV). So parking lots will be large? People will buy an electric car so that they can park one or two minutes closer (round trip by walking, per day) to work?

    All commercial parking areas will be designed with infrastructure to gradually phase-in the installation of EV charging stations as demand grows. Nothing new here…

    All housing shall include one Level 2 EV charger per unit. A requirement, anything special?

    Housing

    “The inclusion of housing and an overall complementary mix of uses reduces the number and distance of project-related vehicular trips, encourages walking and bicycle trips, reduces air quality impacts and reduces the overall carbon footprint of the project.” How can this be quantified if there can’t be home-to-work proximity requirements? ARC will contain multiple choices of typical city users? .

    Multifamily rental units shall be charged separately for parking so that any resident may have the option of renting car-free housing. There is no reason to say “may have the option…” it is simply “has the option”. Sounds nice, but how many will actually do it? This is only useful in neighborhoods with a full set of features, very very dense, etc. And if the renters choose not to own a car, who uses the presumably surplus space? Single-family non-detached housing residents won’t be given the option to not have a parking space? So they will presumably rent it to someone else if they don’t need it?

      1. Craig Ross

        Enough said about what?

        I find it weird that you complain about repetitive conversation and yet even when new information comes out, you raise the same points over and over again. Doctor… heal thyself.

        1. Ron Oertel

          Craig (12:18 p.m.)  “. . . and yet even when new information comes out, you raise the same points over and over again”.

          Craig (10:16 a.m.)  “I can just say as someone who supports this project – this is really weak.  Surprised some of the opponents haven’t hammered on it yet.”

           

           

        2. Craig Ross

          Those points are not in contradiction.  The sustainability plan is too weak.  Your point raised is repetitive and contributes to the very problem you complain about.

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