Academic journal article Planning for Higher Education

Collaboration Raises the Bar; How Visions Aligned to Create UC Davis West Village, the Nation's Largest Planned Zero Net Energy Community

Academic journal article Planning for Higher Education

Collaboration Raises the Bar; How Visions Aligned to Create UC Davis West Village, the Nation's Largest Planned Zero Net Energy Community

Article excerpt

Planner Elizabeth Shreeve interviews Robert Segar, assistant vice chancellor for campus planning and community resources at UC Davis, and Nolan Zail, co-founder of Transform Urban, who was project executive with Carmel Partners (joint venture partner of private developer West Village Community Partnership) during the collaboration. 

COLLABORATIVE PARTNERSHIPS CAN YIELD ENORMOUS BENEFITS for campus projects--especially those involving complex uses and implementation strategies. When visions are aligned, public-private partnerships can leverage initial assumptions into more ambitious programs to meet placemaking, sustainability, and other goals and even head in unanticipated directions made possible by diverse talents, resources, and points of view.

The story of one such collaboration--the successful UC Davis West Village partnership between the University of California, Davis, and its developer partner, West Village Community Partnership, LLC (WVCP)--is told here through interviews with Robert Segar, who discusses the project from the perspective of the University of California, and Nolan Zail, who shares his past experience representing WVCP. Drawing from their many years on the project, these two key players describe how a scheme initially conceived as an "environmentally responsible campus housing project" evolved to its current status as the nation's largest planned zero net energy community.

West Village emerged through a long-term, complex planning process initiated by the University of California, Davis, to provide much-needed, well-located housing for students, faculty, and staff. The planning process included the following key milestones:

* In 2003, the university regents adopted a Neighborhood Master Plan for the West Village area as part of the UC Davis Long Range Development Plan (LRDP).

* In 2005, UC Davis created a public-private partnership with West Village Community Partnership (WVCP) to bring the long-range plans for West Village to life.

* The 2006 West Village Implementation Plan, prepared by WVCP's team in close collaboration with the university, established a detailed design framework for a new 225-acre campus neighborhood designed to be home to 3,000 students and 500 staff/faculty families and set in a network of parks, storm water ponds and corridors, bicycle and pedestrian trails, a community college, and retail and recreational services.

* In 2008, WVCP and UC Davis realized that a larger goal for sustainability was within reach--the target of making West Village a zero net energy (ZNE) community, defined as "zero net energy from the grid measured on an annual basis." Within this multiuse project, the bicycle would serve as the primary mode of transportation.

* With this goal in mind, WVCP undertook detailed design and construction of the Phase 1 program. Construction of infrastructure started in 2008, with vertical construction of student housing and mixed-use buildings beginning in 2010. Phase 1 of the student housing and mixed-use building were ready for occupancy in 2011.

* In 2013, West Village received the ULI Global Award for Excellence.

In addition to the university and the developer, other partners such as the UC Davis Energy Efficiency Center and the Davis Energy Group joined to achieve integrated planning for West Village. Numerous consultants, including SWA as master planners and landscape architects on WVCP's team, worked to meet both university guidelines and developer requirements for product mix, yield, and costing. Although most consultants were contracted to the developer, the university's close working relationship made this a seamless process.

Today the 130-acre Phase 1 of West Village (highlighted in figure 1) houses almost 2,000 students. Clustered around a one-acre Village Square (figure 2) are a leasing/recreation center and 42,500 square feet of retail/office space in which the ground floors are mostly filled by the university's first "uHub," or innovation center, including the Plug-In Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Research Center and the Western Cooling Efficiency Center. …

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