Zero Net Energy Projects 2017

Energy demands in developed economies continue to dominate the world energy requirements. This trend of increasing energy use, which depends heavily on fossil fuels, is expected to continue to rise as other economies continue to develop. Through the project-based, hands-on Path to Zero Net Energy course, PIET addresses energy efficiency, renewable energy issues in the stationary and transportation sectors in the particular context of UC Davis campus and medical center, the former: a model of a small city with complete infrastructure; the latter: an energy-intensive hospital and research facility.

Recent Path to Zero Net Energy projects are described below. Please refer to the library for earlier projects.

Projects of Spring 2017:

  • Steam-to-hot water investment proposal, University of California, Davis

Project devised an investment strategy for fast-tracking the steam to hot water conversion at the University of California, Davis (UCD), utilizing external investment funds. The total capital investment of $172M (40% by UCD and 60% by investor) will be allocated in 3 phases over 4 years (2018-2021), with net benefits beginning in 2022, and providing a return of 9.7% to the external investor over 10 years and 6.5% to UCD over 20 years. Returns for the external investor can vary from 7% to 12.8% based on sensitivity to development costs, construction contingency allocation, and heating system energy losses. Pitch Deck: S-HW Proposal

  • Energy analysis of walnut production in California
  • Project sought to understand the magnitude of energy expenditure in the drying process of the walnut industry in California, in order to inform innovation in drying technology. Based on surveys conducted through the project duration and a review of historical published data, the largest energy use is due to transportation at 59% (out of the 13 MJ/kg of walnut produced in 2009), due to concentrated walnut processing in California’s Central Valley which required subsequent distribution to consumers elsewhere. Drying accounts for 1.1 MJ/kg in 2009, a significant reduction from 21 MJ/kg in 1980 due to energy efficient technologies. Report: Walnut energy  ;  Poster: Walnut energy

  • HVAC and lighting retrofit at the Rifle Range, University of California, Davis
  • Project quantified the energy reduction of 1) variable refrigerant flow heat pump system with dedicated outside air relative to a conventional rooftop air conditioning with gas furnace heating and of 2) Ethernet-powered LED lighting relative to a conventional fluorescent lighting in an office building by performing the following tasks: analyzing monitored data across a limited time-frame (winter season) and estimating the building performance across the year using eQuest simulation. The energy use intensity (EUI) of the building with the implemented systems was estimated at 16.8 kBTU/ft2 relative to the baseline EUI of 33.7 kBTU/ft2. Report: Rifle Range VRF ; Poster: Rifle Range VRF

  • Pathways to ZNE at LBE Cooperative, King City
  • Project entailed an energy assessment of a low-income housing cooperative and feasibility studies of energy efficiency and renewable energy opportunities. Of the total estimated energy use of 114 MWh, the top three end uses are attributed to lighting, refrigeration and plug loads (62%, 16% and 10% respectively). An LED lighting retrofit can reduce the annual energy cost by $3,392 for an estimated implementation cost of $3,000. Adoption of a CARE rate schedule across the community can reduce the annual energy cost by $480. Report: LBE ZNE ; Poster: LBE ZNE

  • Carbon footprint analysis at Russell Ranch, University of California, Davis
  • Project analyzed the carbon emissions (CO2 equivalent) of corn and tomato farming at a campus-affiliated research farm. Utilizing monitored data and literature references, analysis accounts for the following: on-site fertilizer, pesticide, fuel and electrical energy usage; fertilizer production, distribution and leeching/run-off; tillage losses and carbon sequestration. The total estimated carbon emissions of conventional corn & tomato farming is 1.6 tons/year.  By comparison, the estimated emissions of corn & tomato with cover crops farming is 1.5 tons/year. In both cases, electricity use due to irrigation pumping and tillage losses constitutes the two largest portions of total emissions. Report: Russell carbon ; Poster: Russell carbon

  • Solar PV alternatives at Russell Ranch, University of California, Davis
  • Project evaluated three solar photovoltaic (PV) alternatives with low land use impact for use at a campus-affiliated research farm to meet the electrical energy load of two well water pumps. The three alternatives are: 1) the solar tower which consists of vertically stacked PV panels, 2) the mobile bench, which includes PV panels mounted on a repurposed mobile shaded bench, and 3) the solar greenhouse, which utilizes semi-transparent thin PV as the fenestration material in a conventional greenhouse structure. The mobile bench, at $303,000, was estimated to cost the least expensive to implement. The solar tower, requiring the least area, at 551 ft2, was estimated to be the most expensive. Report: Russell PV ; Poster: Russell PV