On June the 29th my husband and I got to tour NASA Ames’ Sustainability Base! This new building is really cool. It was designed to use water and energy very efficiently, and includes many recycled (and even some reclaimed) materials. Good stuff!
The building is oriented to maximize the use of natural light. It also uses photo voltaic power, LED lighting and skylights. In addition it has systems to greatly reduce the use of potable water (projected to reach 90% reduction in potable water use). The building is LEED Certified Gold, although the goal is to become Platinum certified (the highest rating).
Native and drought tolerant plants were used for the landscaping (they will be irrigated using recycled water from the building). The building is supported by an exoskeleton (the exoskeleton echos NASA’s wind tunnel design and in conjunction with flexible building connectors is excellent for seismic safety).
The building is cooled using a radiant cooling system in the ceiling (uses naturally cool water pumped from the adjacent field). Moving water for climate control is much more energy efficient than air. Radiators under the windows provide efficient heating. The windows are oriented to maximize penetration of natural light, and provide every occupant with an outside view. Skylights on the second floor provide further natural lighting. LED and compact fluorescent lights provide efficient supplemental lighting as needed. Windows are energy efficient, and employ glazing technology from the Apollo missions! They also open to allow fresh air flow which reduces the need for cooling (the bottom windows are can be opened by occupants while the top windows are controlled by computers using temperature sensors). The carpeting is recycled and recyclable, and the tiles are modular so they can be replaced if one becomes damaged. They are low VOC along with the paint and other building materials. Vents in the floor allow the building to intake fresh air overnight. I was amazed at how fresh the building smelled!
Here is a beautiful view from the open workspace (the workspace was designed to foster collaboration).