Wednesday, August 5, 2009

NASA Builds Cool Green Building: Uber-Efficient and All That

"NASA Sustainability Base - Groundbreaking and Dedication Ceremony, August 25, 2009"
NASA (July 25, 2009)

"On August 25, 2009 from 1:00 p.m. until 2:30 p.m., Ames Research Center will conduct a ceremonial groundbreaking and dedication event for what we expect will become the highest performing building in the federal government. Named Sustainability Base, our new building will be a showplace for sustainable technologies, featuring 'NASA Inside' through the incorporation of some of the agency's most advanced recycling and intelligent controls technologies originally developed to support NASA's human and robotic space exploration missions. In this 40th anniversary year of the Apollo 11 landing on the Moon and humanity's first historic steps onto the surface of another world, we have chosen the name Sustainability Base as an homage to the original 'Tranquility Base'...."

(from NASA)

That's a pretty cool-looking building: and at $20,626,000 for roughly 50,000 square feet, costs around $412.52 per square foot. That's not crazy-higher than the $222.90 per square foot for a two or three story steel-frame building in Los Angeles.

Particularly considering the sort of high-tech design elements: like around 72 geothermal wells for ground-source heat pumps, solar water heating, and other gadgetry. "These systems will be designed to anticipate and react to changes in sunlight, temperature, wind, and use of resources and will automatically optimize the building's performance." (July 30, 2009, NASA)

Like the beach home cited in a micro-review yesterday, this building won't consume power from the out side. Or isn't intended to, at any rate. "In order to achieve sustainability, the building will have zero net energy consumption, use 90 percent less potable water than conventionally built buildings of equivalent size and reduce building maintenance costs." (July 30, 2009, NASA)

The energy efficiency of the building is, I gather, supposed to be impressive.

I did a little checking.

Today's average high in Sunnyvale, California, near Ames center, is 76 °F; the average low is 60 °F. Six months from now, the average high and low will be 61 °F and 51 °F. I lived in San Francisco, a bit north of there, for more than a year: and people who grew up in the area are often acutely aware of the seasonal temperature variations.

Here where I live, in central Minnesota, the average high and low for today here are 80 and 60. Six months from now, the averages are 18 and 0 °F.

If NASA built a 50,000-square-foot two-story office building here that didn't consume more energy than it generated on-site: That would be impressive.

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