The Sustainability Base’s green program extends to its site, which is planted with native California plants and drought-tolerant species. On-site bioswales help filter pollution and ease rainwater runoff, and a series of 99 geothermal heat wells in a nearby field help to regulate the building’s temperature. The water underground stays at a relatively stable 58 degrees Fahrenheit, and it is pumped through a series of panels in the building to cool it in the summer and warm it in the winter.
NASA is known for its cutting edge technology, and its new Sustainability Base is a test bed and proving ground for some of its most impressive systems. The complex features an incredibly efficient forward-osmosis water recycling system based upon a design created for the International Space Station. This system stores all greywater used in the building and processes it in an on-site treatment plant, reducing water consumption by 90% compared to a traditional building. The building is also powered by a massive Sunpower photovoltaic array that can produce 85 KW during peak hours, an emission-free Bloom Energy fuel cell, and a small wind turbine.
The building’s interior is outfitted exclusively with nontoxic recycled and recyclable materials. The white oak flooring on the ground level was reclaimed from an old wind tunnel dating back to 1953, and the building’s Cradle to Cradle certified Steelcase furniture is designed for disassembly and easy recycling. An abundance of skylights dot the top story of the base, allowing so much light to flood the floor that it only needs artificial lighting about 40 days per year. Meanwhile, manually operable windows are set below a bank of computer controlled windows that automatically open and close to regulate the building’s interior climate.
Photos by Mike Chino for Inhabitat