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UC Davis Unveils Net Zero Research Winery, Courtesy of Jackson Family Wines

Image credits: Jackson Family Wines/UC Davis

The University of California Davis recently celebrated the opening of the Jess S. Jackson Sustainable Winery Building. Once fully operational, the $4 million structure will enable the adjacent teaching and research winery, brewery and food-processing facility to operate self-sustainably, through onsite capture of energy and water. It was made possible by a $3 million pledge from the late Jess Jackson and his wife, Barbara Banke, proprietor of Jackson Family Wines.

The one-story, 8,500 square-foot building will eventually house equipment and systems for capturing and sequestering carbon dioxide from wine fermentation, and for filtering and recirculating water for wine, beer and food processing. It is expected to be the first building at any university to be certified Net Zero Energy under the Living Building Challenge and only the second such building in California.

“What you see in this building is the potential to achieve levels of sustainable operation never before seen in a commercial or research winery,” said David Block, chair of the UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology.

What is now the UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology was established at UC Berkeley in 1880. The department partners with the California grape and wine industry to innovate through research, public service and equipping students with both scientific knowledge and practical skills.

“My family and I are proud to support UC Davis to create the Jess S. Jackson Sustainable Winery Building and its ability to educate and inspire winemakers for generations to come,” said Barbara Banke. “The university continues to be one of the most important academic assets for our nation's winemaking community, and the opportunity to develop, build and share best practices in energy conservation, water management and other world-class sustainability standards was something we were honored to help bring to fruition,” Banke said.

The sustainable winery building is adjacent to UC Davis’ nearly three-year-old Teaching and Research Winery and August A. Busch III Brewing and Food Science Laboratory. Both are located at the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science complex on the south side of the core campus and visible from Interstate 80.

The new building was constructed to include 10 dedicated, modular spaces that will accommodate equipment needed for a variety of processes including high-purity filtration of rainwater for use in cleaning fermentors and barrels in the winery. Ninety percent of the water and chemistry from each cleaning cycle will be captured, filtered through a semi-permeable membrane and reused in the next cleaning cycle, eventually being used as many as 10 times.

The water filtration and recirculation system is expected to be installed next year, and a system for sequestering carbon dioxide captured from all fermentations in the winery will follow. The CO2 collected from the fermentations will be converted into calcium carbonate, or chalk, once the sequestration system is completed.

The new building also will be equipped to produce chilled water, using a solar-powered icemaker, and generate hydrogen gas by electrolysis, fueling a hydrogen fuel cell for nighttime energy use. 

The building was designed by Pankow Builders, Siegel & Strain Architects and Guttman & Blaevoet Engineering, using environmentally sophisticated construction methods and materials. For example, the roof overhangs on the east and west sides of the building form deep porches, protecting the structure against summer heat. And the roof area was increased to support a photovoltaic array that can be expanded to provide for future energy demands of the adjacent winery, brewery and food-processing plant.

Furthermore, the building is super-insulated, meeting R-59.5 insulation standards in the walls and R-76 in the roof, thus minimizing the impact of hot weather on the building’s interior temperature. In the evening, natural ventilation is used to flush warm air from the interior.

“Because of the building’s flexible design, these and each of the other operating systems can be removed and updated as research advances become commercially available,” said Professor Roger Boulton, a winery-engineering expert and the Stephen Sinclair Scott Endowed Chair in Enology at UC Davis.

“This is intended to be a building that encourages the adoption of evolving technologies in the areas of energy, water, carbon and byproduct streams, while at the same time operating the winery in a self-sustainable manner,” he said.

In December 2010, the Teaching and Research Winery became the first winery in the world to receive LEED platinum certification, the highest rating for environmental design and construction awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council. Located in the same building, the August A. Busch III Brewing and Food Science Laboratory also became the first such facility to achieve LEED platinum certification.

In January, Kendall-Jackson and parent company Jackson Family Wines joined the Green-e® Marketplace after purchasing 36,000 megawatt-hours of Green‑e Energy-Certified renewable energy certificates from NativeEnergy. The purchase covers 100 percent of the total annual electricity needs for Kendall-Jackson's U.S.-based operations.


Jennifer Elks is Managing Editor at Sustainable Brands. She is a writer, editor and foodie who is passionate about improving food systems, closing loops and creating more livable cities. She loves cooking, wine, cooking with wine, correcting spelling errors in… [Read more about Jennifer Elks]


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