Jess Jackson Sustainable Winery Facility Tour Part 1: Building Energy Efficiency

In late August 2015, the Callander Associates Sustainability Interest Group visited the Jess Jackson Sustainable Winery at UC Davis to learn more about the sustainable practices implemented there. The facility is self-sustainable in energy and water and “fully solar at peak load with a zero-carbon footprint,” making it a superb example of how these practices can be used in real-world situations. Dr. Roger Boulton, a winery-engineering expert and the Stephen Sinclair Scott Endowed Chair in Enology at UC Davis, walked the group through the overall processes and specific interventions for on-site energy production, energy efficiency in building design, capture and reuse of stormwater in the landscape, and carbon sequestration. His insight and expertise also illuminated several good practices in infrastructure design  that contribute to project sustainability by reducing the amount of work that needs to be done and redone over the lifetime of the project.


The Jess Jackson Sustainable Winery Facility Tour can be broken down into three major categories of importance including building energy efficiency, water capture and reuse efficiency, and good practices in infrastructure design. This article will focus on the first category: energy efficiency in building design.

According to the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, the Jess Jackson Sustainable Winery is “expected to be the first building at any university to be certified [as] Net Zero Energy under the Living Building Challenge and [is] only the second such building in California.” It is a fully solar-powered facility, with solar panels on the roof of the winery and adjacent buildings producing twice as much energy as is consumed by the winery on a peak energy-use day. Future plans for new-generation solar panels and 2nd life lithium batteries will allow for improved efficiency and storage of surplus energy. Strategies to reduce overall energy use include:

  • Solar tubes for lighting scatter light effectively on sunny days, reducing need for artificial lighting
  • Heating and cooling of water is carefully managed and minimized
  • Ice for cooling water is saved and topped off each day rather than making new ice every day
  • Conservative engineering of water filtration system – water use for a winery peaks in fall but is minimal throughout the rest of the year, so water can be captured and filtered for storage from the beginning of the rainy season to the beginning of harvest. The pump size and energy demand are minimized by filtering water slowly over the whole year to meet fall’s peak demand.


Of particular interest are the innovative systems used for heating and cooling the winery, which drastically reduce energy demand. The building envelope is highly-insulated and is considered to be “tight,” having minimal leakage (additional technical information can be found here) and therefore maintaining cool temperatures even during Davis’s hot summers. The following passive cooling techniques are utilized to minimize energy use:

  • Fans pull cool outside air into the bottom of the building at night, warm air flows out top windows (which open automatically)
  • Cooling system turns on based on the change in the outside air temperature (when the nightly low temperature is reached) rather than based on time or on threshold temperature. This minimizes run time needed to achieve cooling.
  • Vines and roof overhangs on east and west sides of the building shade the walls. Vines were chosen instead of trees so as not to shade the solar panels on the roof.

These strategies result in an approximately 4°F flux in internal building temperatures on a day with 40°F flux in outside temperatures! While many of the energy saving practices in the building design are impressive, stay tuned for Part 2 of the Sustainable Winery Facility Tour which will discuss water capture, reuse, and moreover water efficiency principles which can be applied to the landscape.


-Sustain Action Group Members,  Iqra Anwar and Brenna Castro

March 18, 2016 at 6:33 pm