recommended reading

NASA Establishes a Sustainability Base on Earth

An aerial photograph of the Sustainability Base at NASA's Ames Research Center,

An aerial photograph of the Sustainability Base at NASA's Ames Research Center, // NASA

This is the second in a series of sustainability case studies developed by the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions.

In 2007, NASA began an agency wide initiative to replace its aging facilities with smaller, more efficient buildings. When agency leaders selected the Ames Research Center in Northern California for funding, officials at the center proposed a fairly traditional replacement facility. But when Ames Associate Director Steve Zornetzer saw the plans, he had a different vision: Make the building a showcase of NASA’s technological expertise and leadership in imagining the future.

“It was inconceivable to me that in the 21st century, in the heart of Silicon Valley, NASA would be building a building that could have been built 25 years ago,” he said.

“NASA had to build the highest-performing building in the federal government, embed NASA technology inside and make a statement to the public that NASA was giving back to the people of planet Earth what it had developed for advanced aerospace applications,” he said.

But there was one catch: The redesigned building couldn’t cost more than the originally proposed project.

The Sustainability Base, as the project became known, centered on four elements:

  • Make maximum use of the existing environment;
  • Employ advanced technologies to minimize energy consumption and maximize efficiency;
  • Install advanced monitoring and adaptive operational systems;
  • Create a living laboratory for research into advancing sustainability goals.

Faced with a tight timeline and budgetary constraints, the architects and contractors chose design tools that allowed fast and effective communications among all involved. The design team relied on a Building Information Modeling process based on Autodesk Sustainability Solutions, which was integrated with other modeling tools. This facilitated communication across teams and aided in making design decisions quickly and accurately.

The building's core design elements included a complex radial geometry, an innovative steel-frame exoskeleton, and numerous eco-friendly features, such as geothermal heat and cooling , natural ventilation, high-performance wastewater treatment, and photovoltaics on the roof.

The resulting $26 million, 50,000-square-foot, two-story building houses 220 office workers, including scientists, managers, mission support personnel and financial specialists. The extensive floor-to-ceiling windows and open spaces fully embrace the natural daylight. With reduced demand for artificial light and the application of high-efficiency radiant heating/cooling systems, the building site produces more electricity than it uses and is on its way to reducing potable water consumption by up to 90 percent compared with a comparable traditional building.

Read the full Sustainability Base case study here.  

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • It’s Time for the Federal Government to Embrace Wireless and Mobility

    The United States has turned a corner on the adoption of mobile phones, tablets and other smart devices, outpacing traditional desktop and laptop sales by a wide margin. This issue brief discusses the state of wireless and mobility in federal government and outlines why now is the time to embrace these technologies in government.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

    Download
  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.