Revolving around the Sun...

NASA's new base utilises solar energy to power its new Sustainability Base in Silicon Valley

by James 08 November 2012
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    Designed by William McDonough + Partners, Sustainability Base, NASA's new facility at the entrance to Ames Research Center is one of the greenest Federal buildings ever constructed. Through a combination of innovative design and leading-edge technology, Sustainability Base goes beyond LEED® Platinum in its pursuit of Cradle-to-Cradle® solutions, generating all the power it needs to operate and using 90% less potable water than a traditional building of comparable size.

    The building and landscape are design 'native to place' - they capitalise on the natural resources of its location and blend seamlessly with their contextual environment and culture. The building's orientation takes advantage daylight / sun angles and prevailing Bay Area winds. For all but approximately 40 days of the year, no artificial lighting is necessary.

    The form of Sustainability Base seeks to evoke the wonder and vision of space travel as evidenced on Earth. Inspired by the wind tunnels of the NASA Ames Campus and images of NASA satellites, the exoskeleton also provides performance benefits: it gives the building increased structural performance during seismic events, provides an armature for daylighting and shading strategies and creates a column-free interior that facilitates workplace flexibility.

    Sustainability Base uses a sophisticated array of technology. The building can anticipate and react to changes in sunlight, temperature and usage. Over time, itsperformance will be optimised in response to internal and external change. The two-wing design of Sustainability Base permits designation of ‘control' and ‘experimental' wings, and the NASA team is working with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories to calibrate and document the data. Results from this work will inform design and operation strategies for years to come.

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