NASA has planted its flag on planet Earth (for a change) with the groundbreaking of their “Sustainability Base” this week. The new endeavor is located on their Ames campus in Moffett Field, CA just outside of Silicon Valley and has specs that are pushing green building to new limits. In order to deliver in true sustainable style, NASA recruited Inhabitat favorite, William McDonough + Partners, to take on the 50,000-square foot collaborative support facility.

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Determined to go beyond LEED Platinum in performance, NASA set two additional requirements for the building’s architect: to showcase NASA’s culture of innovation and to integrate the surrounding context acting as an icon for the Ames campus. The intensive three month design process helped establish targets to accomplish all three goals.

Going beyond Platinum includes a near zero net energy consumption and the use of 90 percent less potable water than buildings that are similar in size. The use of natural ventilation is the primary contributor to the buildings performance that is complemented by a geothermal system, high performance lighting, radiant cooling, intelligent building systems and on-site photovoltaic energy generation. Optimization of the water comes from use of natural landscape, non-potable irrigation systems, and on-site water-water treatment by an Eco-Machine.

In addition, the large column-free spans on the interior of the building allows the flexibility to easily adapt the building to the changing needs of the program, and a structural exo-skeleton even makes for easier repairs following earthquakes. The end result is not only a showcase of NASA’s innovation, but a show of their commitment to sustainable efforts on planet Earth. To date, the Sustainability Base is the most sustainable federal building project in all 50 states.

+ NASA Sustainability Base + William McDonough + Partners