Ben Lack: We’re here with Roger Boulton, a person that had a lot to with the world’s first LEED Platinum winery. Thanks so much for being with us today.
Roger Boulton: It’s a pleasure.
Ben Lack: You’re going to give us a little tour about the new facility so we’re actually here in the winery right now. Do you want to talk to us a little bit about the whole project and how it kind of came to fruition?
Roger Boulton: Sure. It’s a privately-funded project which is completely privately funded. It’s a complex of wine making and brewing and food science laboratories. We’ll just focus on the winery bit today because that’s the one I’m more familiar with. The project started out as building a new winery for our facility which as it happens is one of the oldest in the campus. I’m betting 25 years old. We were working previously in a winery which was 70 years old. And so we didn’t even have a power meter. Okay? Didn’t have any water meters. This was a difficult thing to actually talk about sustainability when you work in a place like that. More to the point, it was very poor in its usability for research experiments. And so for many years a number of people contributed and built the base of the capital which actually resulted in this building.
Once the building was started, there was an opportunity from a number of people, as common an input, to actually consider making the LEED building and getting it certified. Not simply saying it’s LEED equivalent, actually getting it certified. And that costs extra money. And so the question was if we going to b LEED certified, would we go for LEED Platinum and how much would that cost and would we be able to raise that money.
Ben Lack: How much money did it cost?
Roger Boulton: The building is approximately $14 million when it was started. The premium for LEED Platinum is about $2 million. So it’s about a 7-8% premium on the base building. The base building, close to what was for it to be LEED Gold, but a very complicated building. A lot of different amenitities but a lot of different spaces. So it’s not just square footage, it’s actually quite complicated square footage.
Ben Lack: And how did you raise the money? Because it was all private, correct?
Roger Boulton: It begins with a starting gift from Robert Mondavi. The complex that you probably saw outside the Mondavi Institute buildings. That resulted from a gift that he made to the university that was matched with by state funds and then some additional money from the campus and the college that resulted in that being constructed. We also set aside an amount of money which was for the winery, for the winery to begin. That was matched with others, for the money for the brewery, a number of other people. Now it’s up to something like 200 have contributed to build it from basically $5 million to $8.5 million. That’s when the project began. At that time a group of people, the most important of them being Jess Jackson and Barbara Banke, gave us a gift to ask each of the teams that were competing to do an estimate of what it would take the base design to be a LEED Platinum design. And that gave us three estimates of what it would be for essentially different variations of the same building.
When we got that estimate, we went back to them. They provided the first third of that money. Others then followed and matched them and suddenly we were $1.2 million out of $2.1 million quickly. And that reset the course of the project to be a LEED Platinum building.
Ben Lack: Cool. Let’s walk around.
Roger Boulton: Sure.
Ben Lack: And let’s check out some of the big elements of the facility and how it became LEED Platinum and what it’s like on the energy side.
Roger Boulton: Sure. So there’s a number of features in LEED. There’s five or so categories. Let’s just focus on the energy ones. So the issue is how do you build a building with high natural light, daylight, high thermal efficiency, minimum use of lights, high efficiency lights, nighttime cooling, onsite renewable power, what else, what else… In this case, one of the features of a fermentation hall is that carbon dioxide is being released from all the fermenters. So you’re looking at roughly 80 of the 150 that we will have eventually. These are 200-liter research fermenters. Each of them has been designed to capture the carbon dioxide and remove it from the building. Normally in a winery that would simply go into the air. You’d bring in outside air. As you bring in outside air in a hot climate which is what we’re in, you actually then have a bigger cooling load because you brought in outside air. So if you can capture the CO2 and duct it out of the building, you don’t have to bring in the outside air. You don’t have the cooling load. So that’s nothing special about the building, it’s special about a winery building to actually greatly reduce the amount air conditioning required.
The surrounding part. It’s what, 1:30? It’s a sunny afternoon in Davis in November and the only lights that are on are the security lights that we can’t turn off. So this is daylight and we typically teach and operate most of the daytime in natural daylight inside. The material, I think it’s called, I’m drawing a blank. It’s a multi-layered plastic material, well, think of a dual-planed window. This is like three dual-planed windows. Three egg gaps with dividing plastic highlight transmission, high thermal efficiency.
Ben Lack: Cool.
Roger Boulton: The roof looks like a steel roof. Well, it is except that it has about 12 inches of insulation between the bottom of it and the outside of it. And the outside looks just the same so you think it’s a single layer of steel roof, but it’s actually very a heavily insulated steel roof. The building architecture was trying to be barn-like, look like agriculture buildings, hence the roof. In this facility, in this main room, we can do triplicate replications of up to 50 wines at the same time. Heated and cooled in the chilled water systems which, again, are very efficient. Not very hot water and not very cold water, but hot enough and cold enough to control the temperatures of what we want. So we’ve clipped the cooling energies of the cooling load dramatically, and we’ve clipped the energy load of the heating performance.
Ben Lack: What about the renewable energy?
Roger Boulton: The south-facing clips of this entire building will be covered with solar panels. We don’t have them yet but they are to be installed in December. They will generate 100 kilowatts at peak load. That puts the winery completely off the grid during daytime. It becomes now a fully solar winery by kilowatts, not by kilowatt hours. On a kilowatt hour basis, this is a energy positive building. Not a…
Ben Lack: Send power back, huh?
Roger Boulton: It will send power back and will give it back to the campus and I’m sure they will be appreciative. But the campus purchased an agreement which allowed us to be solar, which allowed us to be LEED. In terms of LEED points, roughly 40% of your onsite renewable will get you six points or the maximum you can. This building is 100% so we’re well beyond the point score on our LEED Platinum in that category. And it’s my understand we more renewable energy than any other LEED Platinum building in terms of load. Corresponding to that, we have rainwater capture from this roof for toilets and landscaping. And that’s my understanding, the extent of rainwater use is more than any other LEED Platinum building. And for us energy and water are the two crucial factors in the future and to build a building which embodies those two as efficient as possible and as sustainable and self-sustainable as possible were important tactics.
Ben Lack: And how has the building been up and running?
Roger Boulton: Since August, we moved in, I think, the last week…
Ben Lack: Only a few months.
Roger Boulton: Yeah, a few months this harvest. So we had to teach in here this year and we want to do our research projects in here this year. The last of the fermentations are just finishing, but we were moving in in August. And we’re ready fortunately with our light season, we’re able to do that.
Ben Lack: And how much wine is going to be manufactured from this harvest?
Roger Boulton: Most people in the industry talk about terms or cases of whatever. In our world, it’s how many wines do you make. So we’re doing triplicate fermentations for research reasons. We’ll probably do something like 500-600 wines a year. But this capacity which is probably about a hundred tons, thereabouts, in terms of CO2 capture. There’s the issue of worker-safety. There’s the issue of outside energy and hot air and cooling loads, but there’s also the issue of wanting there to be zero carbon. And by zero carbon, let’s get back to having no net emission, not by offset but by the ability to capture it and trap it. And the building’s been constructed. You can probably see, there’s a large gray pipe, PVC pipe, that goes out that has CO2 on it. Every fermenter, the CO2 from it is captured, ducted out of the building. The future is to go to another building which will have a room which does nothing but sequester the CO2 onsite, making it a zero carbon winery by omission.
Ben Lack: This is really cool. Last question: Why’d you want to be in charge of the project?
Roger Boulton: Didn’t want to be in charge of it. Just spent a lot of time thinking about it. So I teach a class on winery design. I help other people design wineries around the world.
Ben Lack: Is this your passion?
Roger Boulton: This is our backyard, and this is a chance to do something very special. The other feature, there were a lots of people who were telling us “These are the kinds of things you should be doing”. And if you listen to those, that’s what you, when you get the chance, you actually do it. Been an enormous number of people that been instrumental in helping us, and I could get in a very big list. But it’s not me, and it’s not just our group. It’s a whole lot of other people that have really made this possible.
Guess while you’re here since you’re interested in energy and other things. It may not be apparent to you but each of these fermenters has got a vertical tube in it, is measuring the density. And in the world of fermentation, that’s not such a big deal except these ones are wireless. So they’re sending signals back to the main control room. A hundred and fifty of them will be buzzing and sending signals rapidly, greatly assist the precision with which we can do fermentations as well as futuristic in terms of what it holds the students. My understanding is this is the largest wireless network in the fermentation world right now as well as being the things we’ve talked about for managing LEED Platinum, self-sustainable in energy and water.
The bigger picture long-term is to put more photovoltaics on to generate hydrogen onsite, to operate nighttime on a fuel cell running on hydrogen. To use the waste from the fuel cell to generate hot water. To do passive solar, hydrogen hot water system, excess from a fuel cell hybrid to generate hot water.
Ben Lack: You guys aren’t messing around.
Roger Boulton: We sort of are. Most people put in the cooling system. We have an interest to put in a cooling system which is photovoltaic which will run our little compressor that’ll run a little ice maker. The ice maker will go into the tanks, will trickle out cold water, warm water. Ice will generate chilled water. The bigger picture is that the entire winery runs on storage. So we will capture and use different technologies and hybrids to compliment the storage volume so the winery runs off storage and never kicks in peak load. So by design and the big picture, we’re trying to smooth out all of the loads. We’re trying to provide backup and support as storage rather than batteries or as other means, and that secondary project is still going forward.
The other feature of that building, second building, is it’s being designed so each of those systems can be delivered on a skid. And over the course of every year or two years, we’ll replace that skid with the next technology. So the systems in this winery will continue to be evolving.
Ben Lack: And updating.
Roger Boulton: It’ll be an evolving, updating technology winery and it’ll be zero carbon by emission and by energy. It’ll be fully self-sustainable energy, day and night. And it’ll be fully self-sustainable in water. That’s the objective. So LEED Platinum was important to begin to set the stage, and we’re beginning to progress down that path. The most striking thing is that five years or so ago, even longer when we first talked about these kinds of things, they were almost called heretics. We don’t get called heretics anymore. And in some respects…
Ben Lack: Pioneers.
Roger Boulton: There’s an obligation that people want us to do these things. Not so much to find the magic answer but to show what’s feasible, proof of concept, get metrics, show performance that people typically can’t find data for as well as to demonstrate that principle in a building, this one happens to be a winery, as well as surround our students by that kind of technology, that kind of vision, that kind of perspective. And all of that’s coming together in what we have here.
Ben Lack: Well, thank you so much for giving us some time today to show us around. This is very, very cool, and I have no doubt that our audience will greatly appreciate the time you’ve given us. And we definitely want to stay in touch. Thank you.
Roger Boulton: Thank you.
Tags: daily energy news, daily energy report, energy efficiency, energy news, energy report, Enology, LEED Platinum, renewable energy, Robert Mondavi Institute, Roger Boulton, UC-Davis, Viticulture, wine, winery