Net-zero NASA Research Center Sends ‘Green’ Message to Businesses

June 14, 2011 / William Thomson, Green Homes Expert

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has set about the construction of its net-zero space-age research center in Silicon Valley, telling businesses and other government agencies to follow its “green” steps.

Net-zero NASA Research Center Sends ‘Green’ Message to Businesses

The 50,000-square-foot research center at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California, called the Sustainability Base, can generate more electricity than it uses.

Steven Zornetzer, Ames’ associate center director, said: “Buildings of the future could actually produce more energy than they use and reverse the trend of being a big, sucking drain without compromising anything.”

The construction is expected to be completed by July this year. While at that, the $20-million research center has already been chosen by the federal government as the green building of the year, at least for them.

With the eco-friendly features of the research center in San Jose, many other government agencies and enterprises are expected to level up in their sustainability drive.

For example, executives from technology firms such as IBM Corp., Adobe Systems Inc. and the J. Craig Ventner Institute have toured the building to gain insights into how to step up the sustainability of their campuses.

About 92 percent of waste materials left along the course of the construction were either recycled or disposed of in an eco-friendly way, having been kept out of landfills.

To reduce emissions created by transporting steel and other materials, developers of the building sourced these materials from local vendors.

Zornetzer said the research center will be six percent more costly in terms of its construction compared to other office buildings with the same size.

But while NASA has spent a substantial amount for the green construction, it expects to recoup the expenses in ten years time as the research center is designed to operate with lesser cost.

Currently, California lags behind ten other states in terms of eco-friendly commercial and institutional structures, according to the US Green Building Council, which develops the LEED rating for buildings. With the research center projected for completion by mid-July, California can boost its ranking.

Zornetzer added that every part of the Sustainability Base functions towards sustainability ends. He expects the research center to achieve the LEED Platinum rating for new construction, the highest level of certification that the USGBC grants.

William McDonough + Partners and AECOM designed the Ames facility, while Swinerton Inc. erected the site.

William McDonough + Partners ensured the research center would allow more air and natural light to enter the facility that nests 220 NASA employees and contractors.

Additionally, NASA boasts of the safety that the research center offers to people inside in cases of earthquakes.

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