Photo courtesy of Sanjay Acharya/Wikimedia

The University of California, Davis, has unveiled a teaching and research facility designed to integrate food and beverage production with the scientific study of nutrition and health. The 34,000 square foot complex cost $20 million and was funded with private donations.

The facility integrates academic research, technological advances (including the first wireless wine fermentation system), and environmentally sustainable design. Administrators hope the facility will serve as a model for production systems across the nation and around the world. It has also been designed to meet the international standards for LEED Platinum certification.

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum certification is the highest rating for buildings meeting criteria established by the U.S. Green Building Council. The certification system utilizes third-party verification for structures or communities that, according to the USGBC, were “designed and built using strategies aimed at improving performance across all the metrics that matter most: energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts.”

Located at the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science on the UC Davis campus, and managed by the Department of Viticulture and Enology, the facility will serve as a laboratory for production methods that conserve resources. The facility itself is designed to be self-sustainable in terms of energy and water usage. Environmentally friendly features include the use of photovoltaic cells to generate solar power, rainwater capture for landscaping and toilets, recycled glass for flooring, and sustainably harvested lumber.

Ongoing plans for the facility include capturing carbon emissions from production processes to reduce any impact on global warming, resulting in a carbon zero footprint.

And the products? Everything produced at the facility – from wine, beer and dairy products – will meet state and federal mandates for human consumption. It might not be the next wine tasting stop on the drive from Sacramento to the Napa Valley, but the facility is sure to bolster the international reputation of UC Davis as a leading educational resource for food science and production.

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