NASA has charted the stars and sent humans into outer space - and now they're breaking ground here on Earth by launching the greenest federal building in the United States. Opened last month, the LEED Platinum NASA Sustainability Base is a thinking, learning building that puts the space-age technologies of tomorrow to work on earth today. The landmark project generates more energy that it consumes using a photovoltaic array, a small wind turbine, and a Bloom Energy Box fuel cell, and it utilizes a super efficient greywater recycling system (designed for the International Space Station) to cut water use by 90% compared to a traditional building. It also features an extensive network of wireless sensors that allow the building to automatically react to changes in temperature, sunlight, wind, weather, and occupancy to provide a comfortable interior environment. Inhabitat recently had a chance to take a sneak peek at the new building, which was designed by William McDonough + Partners with integrated design and engineering by AECOM - read on for a look!
Situated at Moffet Field in Mountain View, California, the $25 million NASA Sustainability Base features a front facade that takes design cues from the International Space Station. At a media unveiling today Green architect and Cradle to Cradle founder William McDonough explained that his team sought to design a building that was “native to place” – meaning that it was carefully designed to suit its site while maximizing efficiency and actually creating a positive impact upon the environment. The 50,000 square-foot structure was built from the ground up to meld with its surrounding environment and make the most of available daylight, natural ventilation, and shading.
The building’s relatively narrow 54-foot width allows daylight to reach the middle of each floor, and the entire building is wrapped in an exoskeleton that provides shade while allowing light and air to flow inside the building. This exoskeleton also provides great seismic stability and allows the interior to have a column-free floor plan.
Photos by Mike Chino for Inhabitat
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