NASA Sustainability Base

Imagine working in a building designed in harmony with its environment. A building where you can work by natural daylight and breathe fresh air; one designed and constructed to LEED Platinum standards and decorated with materials that are beneficial to your health. And one so smart and intuitive it knows exactly how much energy you’re using – and adapts itself based on weather, season and work patterns.

Out of this world? Not any more.

NASA’s Sustainability Base is unlike any other government building ever created. Using NASA innovations originally engineered for space travel and exploration, the 50,000 square-foot, lunar-shaped Sustainability Base is simultaneously a working office space, a showcase for NASA technology and an evolving exemplar for the future of buildings.

Welcome to NASA’s latest mission on Earth.



OVERVIEW

BACKGROUND

In 2007, NASA held a 'Renovation by Replacement' (RbR) competition. RbR is designed to replace antiquated and inefficient buildings with new, energy-efficient buildings. Each of the agency's ten centers submitted proposals to build a new facility, and Ames Research Center won the contest.

Steve Zornetzer, Associate Center Director for NASA Ames, inspired by architect and sustainability pioneer Bill McDonough, saw an opportunity to take the closed-loop thinking that NASA uses in space exploration and apply it to a green building on Earth.

Although most people associate NASA with space, we are also committed to advancing technology and innovations that will help solve the critical challenges that are facing Earth. As NASA Ames Center Director Pete Worden says, "This tiny planet we share is our only home."

As well, NASA has decades of experience in creating human environments that promote optimal functioning. In order for astronauts to do their jobs, they have to be at peak function, mentally and physically. Everything in their environment is designed to support that. Similarly, although Sustainability Base isn’t a spacecraft, it was created with the vision that everything about the design would support both human and planetary well-being.

Through a combination of NASA innovations, as well as commercially available technologies, Sustainability Base leaves virtually no footprint. The project is proof not only that this level of sustainable building is possible, but also that it is imperative for the health of our planet.

WORKPLACE

From the moment they arrive, each of the 210 people who work at Sustainability Base – NASA Ames civil servants and contractors – experience openness and abundant connections to nature. The lobby is open through both floors and suffused with daylight. A large LCD display shows visitors and employees how much energy the building is using and where that energy comes from.

The building is narrow, which means that everyone – even those working at desks in the center of each floor – benefits from the daylight that pours in through the floor-to-ceiling windows and, on the second floor, skylights. The large windows also provide a constant flow of fresh air, and people can establish a visual and emotional connection to the surrounding landscape. Without columns inside the building, there is a spacious, holistic feel.

Outside, people can have meetings in various naturally landscaped 'rooms' amidst gardens and trees, or they can sit on benches or at picnic tables and simply work quietly in harmony with nature. Those who work at Sustainability Base are an integral part of keeping the building sustainable. Each individual has a personal energy dashboard that shows their energy usage at any given moment and even suggests energy conservation activities, as simple as lowering the shades or opening windows.

SUSTAINABILITY

Sustainability Base is one of the greenest Federal buildings ever constructed. It is designed to go beyond 'not hurting' the environment to actually being beneficial to nature and humans. Through a combination of innovative design and leading-edge technology, Sustainability Base generates all the power it needs to operate and uses 90 percent less potable (drinking) water than a traditional building of comparable size.

The building and landscape are designed "native to place," which means they capitalize on the natural resources of its location and blend seamlessly with their contextual environment and culture. The building’s orientation takes advantage of both the sun’s arc across Moffett Field and the prevailing Bay Area winds. This means that for all but approximately 40 days of the year, no artificial lighting is necessary. The landscape surrounding Sustainability Base includes primarily plants, flowers and trees that are native to the area and draught-tolerant.

The building also generates a considerable amount of its own renewable power through a variety of photovoltaics (solar panels), a highly efficient fuel cell and a small wind turbine.

The materials used to build and furnish Sustainability Base were locally procured and, in many cases, include recycled elements – for example, the oak planks that line the second-floor lobby were reclaimed from an old NASA wind tunnel.

Sustainability Base uses a sophisticated array of technology to go beyond being a "smart building" and move into the realm of the intuitive. The building can anticipate and react to changes in sunlight, temperature and usage, and over time, it will be able to optimize its performance automatically in response to internal and external change.

NASA TEAM

Olga M. Dominguez
Assistant Administrator
Office of Strategic Infrastructure
NASA Headquarters

Steven F. Zornetzer
Associate Center Director
NASA Ames Research Cente

Deborah L. Feng
Director of Center Operations
NASA Ames Research Center

Krisstina L. Wilmoth
Assistant Director for Research Collaborations and Institutional Development
NASA Ames Research Center

Michael T. Flynn
Principal Investigator, Bioengineering Branch
NASA Ames Research Center

Scott D. Poll
Deputy Lead, Diagnostics and Prognostics Group
NASA Ames Research Center

Corey A. Ippolito
Aerospace Scientist
NASA Ames Research Center

Bhaskar Saha
Diagnostics and Prognostics Group
NASA Ames Research Center

Bryan Matthews
Intelligent Data Understanding Group
NASA Ames Research Center

Daniel M. Bufton
Project Manager
NASA Ames Research Centerr

Raymond F. Schuler
Deputy Project Manager
NASA Ames Research Center

Rosalind A. Grymes
Sustainability Initiatives
NASA Ames Research Center

Pamela J. Van Orden
Communications Lead
NASA Ames Research Center

Ruth D. Marlaire
Public Affairs Officer
NASA Ames Research center

External Team
AECOM
Architect of Record, building engineering, landscape architecture, interior design

William McDonough + Partners
Design Architect

Loisos + Ubbelohde
Consulting Design Services

Swinerton Builders
General Contractor

Research Partners
Integrated Building Solutions partnered with NASA to develop a next-generation intelligent, automated, and integrated environmental monitoring and management system for Sustainability Base. Read the press release.

NASA is working with Impact Technologies to extend and commercialize NASA-developed software that detects and isolates faults in complex engineered systems. For Sustainability Base, portions of the geothermal heating and cooling system will be modeled and monitored with this software.

We are also working with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Building Technologies Department on various aspects of the building, including control systems and building information models (BIMs).

Through a Non-Reimbursable Space Act Agreement executed in May 2012, NASA Ames is partnering with Silicon Valley-based Verdigris Technologies to pilot in Sustainability Base their electrical metering technology, Energy.AI. Verdigris' Energy.AI is a comprehensive hardware/ software platform with the groundbreaking ability to measure any building’s electricity use down to a specific appliance. From the circuit panel, Energy.AI can simultaneously accurately measure as many as a thousand different devices from each single sensor node. With this technology, NASA Ames aims to optimize energy use in our facility through intelligent signal processing.

We are engaged in a project collaboration with the University of California Berkeley leveraging their research leadership in wireless sensor networks and NASA’s experience in remote sensing and aerospace vehicle control. Another collaboration is underway with Carnegie Mellon University’s Silicon Valley campus creating a small-scale experimental test bed at Sustainability Base to include distributed wireless sensing, mobility research, and building control. Additionally, in-house prognostics research is supported by NASA Ames’ onsite contractor, Mission Critical Technologies.

Those interested in partnering on new research undertakings should go to Science:Opportunities on the Sustainability Base website.

Opportunities
We receive inquiries from students and teachers at every academic level seeking to know more than is presented here about the 'NASA Inside' research integrated with Sustainability Base. Our work is continually provided to our colleagues and the public in conference proceedings, peer-reviewed journals, and NASA reports. We try to keep this website updated with pointers to this information, and you can use tools such as Google Scholar to search for published related technical articles.

Students may apply individually to the many programs NASA provides to support their education and training. Two excellent places to look for relevant opportunities are: http://nasajobs.nasa.gov/studentopps/employment/programs
https://intern.nasa.gov
Students interested in working at Ames on subjects related to Sustainability Base may elect to inform us when they apply to a program for which they are eligible and are encouraged to contact us should they receive an award.

Undergraduates may choose a project specific to Sustainability Base when applying to the NASA Undergraduate Student Research Program by selecting Computer Systems and Engineering and reviewing projects within the NASA Ames Intelligent Systems Division. Similarly, graduate students may search for relevant opportunities in the NASA Graduate Student Researchers Program.

The Sustainability Base Team welcomes collaboration. However, no associated funding stream is identified and we do not anticipate announcing any targeted solicitations. Collaborators who wish to seek funding from other sponsors should contact us as early as possible by submitting a research plan for comment based strictly on the template downloadable here. Submissions will be reviewed and comments on feasibility returned. Send submissions to Rose Grymes at rose.grymes@nasa.gov.

Thank you for your interest in Sustainability Base, and for contacting us with your questions.

NEWS

ARTICLES

NASA's greenest building unveiled at Moffett Field
04.23.12 – Silicon Valley MercuryNews.com

NASA's Sustainability Base generates buzz for its eco-friendly architecture
05.30.12 – Los Angeles Times, latimes.com

NASA Sustainability Base / William McDonough + Partners and AECOM
05.01.12 – archdaily.com

NASA'’s New LEED Platinum Sustainability Base is the Greenest Federal Building in the US
05.06.12 – inhabit.com

NASA's greenest building unveiled at Moffett Field
04.23.12 – Silicon Valley MercuryNews.com

NASA's Sustainability Base generates buzz for its eco-friendly architecture
05.30.12 – Los Angeles Times, latimes.com

NASA Sustainability Base / William McDonough + Partners and AECOM
05.01.12 – archdaily.com

NASA's New LEED Platinum Sustainability Base is the Greenest Federal Building in the US
05.06.12 – inhabit.com

Federal projects win CEIL Environmental Awards
12.05.11 – CEIL.org (Center for Environmental Innovation and Leadership)

NASA’s knowledge for sustainable living
02.23.11 - CNN

Masters Of Innovation: Space Age Green
01.28.11 - PlumTV

NASA research center goes ultragreen
02.23.11 - USA Today

Fast Company’s story, NASA’s First Space Station on Earth: A Look Inside the Sustainability Base
01.28.11 - Fast Company

In Treehugger.com’s article on the Autodesk’s sustainability summit on Smart Green Design
01.31.11 - TreeHugger

William McDonough’s YouTube video on SB from West Coast Green 2010
04.01.11 – YouTube, William McDonough

NASA’s knowledge for sustainable living
09.22.10 - Executive Gov

NASA’s green frontier
09.22.10 - Executive Gov

Greenest in government: DOE, NASA buildings to use 'net zero' energy
04.18.10 - Federal Times

NASA applies space technology in new smart office building
04.18.10 - Federal Times

Where No Public Building Has Gone Before: NASA's Sustainability Base Brings Space Tech to Earth
04.10 - Buildings

NASA Ames' Sustainability Base Project Aims to Exceed Green Standards
03.25.10 - California Construction

NASA Builds Greenest Gov Building Ever
01.19.10 - Discovery News

NASA technologies come down to Earth
01.19.10 - Energy Efficiency News

NASA embarks on Sustainability Base
10.16.09 - Sustainable Industries

NASA Base is Most Sustainable Federal Building Project in America
08.28.09 - Inhabitat

NNASA "Sustainability Base" to be net zero energy
08.25.09 - CNET

NASA's Advanced Space Tech Gets Turned Into Self-Aware Eco Building
08.10.09 - TreeHugger

NASA to Break Ground on Super-Green "Sustainability Base".
08.06.09 - Fast Company

NASA Goes Green With New Sustainability Base
08.05.09 - Live Science

NASA's New Base Uses Smart Spaceship Tech on the Ground
08.05.09 - POPSCI


PRESS RELEASES
Read NASA's coverage of Sustainability Base.

To get the latest news from NASA Ames, including announcements about Sustainability Base, subscribe to our RSS feed.

04.19.12 - Digital Press Kit

NASA's Ultragreen Building Awarded Leed Platinum
04.19.12 - The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) announced this week that the new ultragreen federal facility, named Sustainability Base, located at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., received the highest level of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, LEED Platinum.

NASA's Latest Mission on Earth
04.19.12 - NASA is leading the way to a better quality of life on Earth. Meeting the White House challenge to lead by example, it has taken a second look at its aerospace technologies and has repurposed them in imaginative and innovative ways to create a "smart" building unlike any other government building ever constructed.

Reporters Invited to Tour NASA's New Ultragreen Building April 19-20
04.06.12 - NASA's newest building also is one of the nation's greenest. News media are invited to tour the facility, called Sustainability Base, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. PDT on Thursday, April 19, 2012, at the agency's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif.

Federal projects win CEIL Environmental Awards
12.05.11 – CEIL.org (Center for Environmental Innovation and Leadership)

NASA Technology to Enhance Green Building's Efficiency
01.14.10 - NASA today announced that it is collaborating with Integrated Building Solutions, Inc. to develop a next-generation intelligent, automated, and integrated environmental monitoring and management capability for office buildings and research environments.

NASA Ames Breaks Ground for Greenest Federal Building Ever
08.25.09 - NASA today held a ceremonial groundbreaking and dedication event for what is expected to become the highest-performing building in the federal government.

NASA Ames Awards Contract to Build Sustainability Base
07.30.09 - NASA has selected Swinerton Inc., San Francisco, to receive a construction contract to build a new sustainable facility at NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.

AWARDS AND NOMINATIONS
The White House 2011 “Lean Green and Mean” GreenGov Award (shared between all 4 LEED Platinum NASA buildings)

The 2011 Engineering News Record (ENR) California "Best Green Building Award"

Katerva Award 2011 Nominee

Government Services Agency (GSA) 2010 "Real Property Innovation Award"

San Jose Business Journal’s 2010 “Green Project of the Year” Structures Award
SCIENCE

Design: Architecture
Sustainability Base was designed "native to place," which means that everything created and used during the ideation, planning and construction process – through day-to-day operations – is optimized for the unique environment in which it lives.

The building is oriented to maximize daylight and fresh air flow, based on the sun’s arc across Moffett Field, as well as site-specific wind patterns. The building's narrow width (54') allows daylight to reach desks in the middle of each floor, and operable windows provide natural ventilation. The windows are also automated to flush the building with cool air at night.

Traditional buildings have internal columns inside that provide support and stability. Sustainability Base is supported by an "exoskeleton" – that is, the supports are on the outside of the building, which has multiple benefits: it allows daylight and fresh air to flow smoothly inside the building, it creates an uninterrupted interior space and it provides greater seismic stability.

Almost all the power needed to supply the building is generated on-site – approximately 30 percent comes from an array of photovoltaic solar panels on the building and around the site. A fuel cell and a small wind turbine contribute to the remainder of the energy required by the building. The site also features 99 geothermal wells supporting a ground-source heat pump system.

As part of our goal for Sustainability Base to reduce potable water consumption by 90 percent (compared to a traditional building), it features ultra-low-flush plumbing fixtures, as well as dual plumbing, allowing greywater to be used to flush toilets and urinals.

Sustainability Base is designed with Cradle to Cradle(R) principles in mind. Cradle to cradle is an approach to the waste-free design of systems. To the extent possible, the materials used in Sustainability Base will go back to either nature or industry at the end of their life cycles – and create no waste.

Cradle to Cradle(R) is a registered trademark of McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry.


Design: Landscape
The landscaping around the building also contributes to Sustainability Base’s efficiency. The landscape flora are California native plants and non-invasive, drought-tolerant species, and more than 75 percent of the plants on the site have low water requirements. The grass is a special hybrid hydroseed blend that requires no mowing and little maintenance, and the site includes bioswales, "pathways" of small stones that naturally filter silt and pollution. All the irrigation water used on the building site will be non-potable recycled groundwater that has been treated to remove hazardous volatile compounds.

Additionally, light-colored hardscape materials absorb and re-emit little heat, thereby minimizing the "heat-island" effect.

Design: Human Factors

Studies have shown that humans are happier and more productive when their environment includes abundant connections to the natural world. This concept, biophilia, is one of the core principles around which Sustainability Base was designed. The building and site are designed not only for planetary well-being, but also for individuals’ physical and emotional health. The elements designed for human well-being include fresh air, daylight, outdoor workspaces, pleasing views of nature, natural shading, nontoxic building materials and a variety of greenery.

Everyone working at Sustainability Base will have a dashboard on their energy efficient laptop computer, providing real-time information about their energy usage. The dashboard program will give each person suggestions for reducing their current energy usage with activities as simple as lowering the shades, opening a nearby window or turning off equipment not being used.

Technologies: Intelligent Building Controls
Sustainability Base incorporates a variety of NASA technologies that make it both predictive and intuitive in optimizing its performance.

The intelligent control technology we’ll be using in Sustainability Base is being developed as part of the Subsonic Fixed-Wing Project in NASA's Aviation Safety Program to provide optimized guidance control for aircraft. The control technology considers multiple performance goals and constraints simultaneously to determine the optimal control strategy.

For example, in aviation, it might be important to find ways to minimize fuel burn. We could input estimates of the flow state around the aircraft, restrictions due to obstacles and vehicle performance, and a desired aircraft location and orientation, and the intelligent control technology would help us plan the optimal trajectory.

This technology will be used in Sustainability Base to achieve building zone control. Sensors throughout the building will provide a central controller with real-time data about air flow in the building. The controller will take in user input such as comfortable temperature ranges, room occupancy schedule, and weather forecasts. It will then determine how best to control the state of the zone using the available mechanisms.

The controller will have access not only to weather forecasts, but also to occupants' calendars, so it can predict how many people will be at a given meeting; using the predicted heat loads from the sun, as well as temperature adjustments for each body and laptop, it can adjust heating and cooling systems appropriately so the meeting room will be at an optimal temperature.

Technologies: Forward-Osmosis Water Recycling System
Another important factor in water conservation is NASA's forward-osmosis water treatment system. Designed by scientists for use on the International Space Station, this system cleans greywater (water that drains from the bathroom sinks and showers) and then recycles it in the building to flush toilets and urinals.

The forward-osmosis system is an example of NASA technology that both benefits Sustainability Base immediately and also allows the building to be a ‘test bed’ to perfect the technology. While the water treatment system was designed for the International Space Station, its stability and the long-term functioning of its components still need to be verified – something that is better done on Earth than 220 miles into space.

Technologies: Computational Fluid Dynamics
Over the years, NASA has developed numerous advanced computational fluid dynamic tools to simulate, quantify and understand the ways in which fluid flows in a given environment – for example, how air flows through a jet engine or around an aircraft, or how blood circulates through the body in different environmental circumstances. Within NASA, this technology has been used for a variety of applications, ranging from development of next-generation space exploration vehicles to engineering biomedical devices.

In Sustainability Base, we use computational fluid dynamics to simulate environmental flows in and around the building. This includes external flows – predominant wind patterns in different seasons and under varying weather conditions – and takes into account the effect of surrounding buildings and foliage. We also conduct internal flow simulations to examine how interior structures and flow-control devices such as windows, HVAC units and furnishings affect the movement and quality of air. Both sets of simulations allow us to develop effective building control system strategies for maintaining occupant comfort while minimizing energy demand.

Technologies: Prognostics
Prognostics is the study of predicting when a component or system will fail to perform its intended function. Predicting the remaining useful life of components allows us to take proactive measures to replace or repair components that are degrading – thus ensuring crew and vehicle safety. NASA applies prognostics research to aircraft, spacecraft, and supporting ground equipment components such as electronics, actuators, batteries, and valves.

We're using prognostics at Sustainability Base to reduce building maintenance costs. Prognostics allow us to maintain each component based on its condition (this is called condition-based maintenance, or CBM), rather than based on a predefined schedule. It's kind of like preventive health care: Rather than waiting until something goes wrong – or wasting money by replacing a component while it's still useful – we use sensors to monitor equipment health, assess each component's condition and predict its failure. This information is used to alert operators, schedule maintenance, or order replacement parts.

By maintaining components based on their actual life span, and addressing repairs and replacement as necessary (rather than a one-size-fits-all regular scheduled maintenance), we save taxpayers considerable money in the operation of Sustainability Base.

Technologies: Inductive Monitoring System
Developed at NASA Ames, Inductive Monitoring System (IMS) is a new, time- and cost-efficient way to conduct systems monitoring. IMS simultaneously analyzes relationships among multiple parameters to determine if something isn't working as expected, without having to build detailed simulation models of the system.

IMS automatically learns how a system typically behaves by using a technique called clustering to extract models of normal system operation from archived data. Then it compares new data to the clusters to determine whether the system is behaving differently than normal. IMS i

s currently being used in the flight control room at Johnson Space Center to monitor a number of systems on the International Space Station, including control moment gyros, which are used to control the attitude of the station, as well as external thermal control systems. IMS has also been applied to detecting anomalies in aircraft systems as well as fleets of aircraft.

In Sustainability Base, IMS will first acquire data to learn how the building operates and then monitor how it performs over time (possible examples include energy use, mechanical system performance and environmental parameters, among other considerations). In addition to comprehensive building performance, IMS can also be used to detect changes in individual energy use as well. IMS will provide early indications of abnormal performance for building operators or occupants, so they can take actions – ranging from opening a window to repairing a component – to maximize building performance and efficiency.

Technologies: Hybrid Diagnostic Engine
The Hybrid Diagnostic Engine (HyDE) is a model-based reasoning engine designed to detect and isolate faults in complex systems. Using sensor observations, commands to the system, and models that describe how the system operates, HyDE can determine which components of the system are malfunctioning. It was originally developed for space and aeronautics applications and has been used to diagnose faults in aerospace vehicle electrical power systems, propellant and fuel transfer systems, and in an autonomous drill prototype for use on Mars.

Impact Technologies, in partnership with NASA, is working to create a commercial-off-the-shelf version of HyDE for system monitoring applications. As part of the partnership agreement, Impact will be using HyDE to monitor functioning of some of the geothermal systems at Sustainability Base.

Research
The initial research into sustainable components for the building falls into two categories: 1) an intelligent adaptive building control system and 2) greywater reuse.

We will be systematically developing, testing, evaluating, and then deploying an intelligent control software system that integrates and makes sense out of an extensive network of distributed wireless sensors. It then interprets the meaning of that sensor information and makes autonomous decisions about directing the operation of actuators, pumps, lights, shades, etc., to optimize the internal environment of the building. The software will learn from its own performance and modify its behavior over time to become more and more effective.

With regard to greywater recycling, we will be using a real-world environment to experiment with and test the forward-osmosis water purification system initially developed for use in closed environments in space. Ideally, technologies should be tested for as long as they will be deployed in space (for example, if a mission is expected to last three years, the technologies should be tested for that long on the ground before being deployed in space). Testing this type of technology in a flight center is extremely expensive; using Sustainability Base as a test bed benefits both the building and NASA. Over time, the performance of this technology will both provide critical testing data and enable our researchers to better understand how to improve the system.

We envision many additional future research opportunities using Sustainability Base as a living test bed.


MULTIMEDIA
Videos - Audio version

Sustainability Base: Congratulations Message from John Holdren, OSTP - Click here to hear the video.
[No Transcript]

Sustainability Base: The Reality Begins - Click here to hear the video.
[No Transcript]

The Vision - Click here to hear the video.
The Vision - Transcript:

NASA’s Sustainability Base Window to the Future on Earth

(Music)

Olga Dominguez, Assistant Administrator for Infrastructure, NASA HQ: One of our greatest challenges we face today is climate change and in order to mitigate it, we need to understand our planet better. NASA is committed to advancing technologies and innovation that will bring solutions to address Earth’s critical challenges.

S. Pete Worden, Center Director, NASA Ames Research Center: The now-famous image of the blue marble provides us all with the humbling epiphany that this tiny planet we share is our only home. Today at NASA, we are continuing to provide the world with new ways to see and understand planet Earth. At the NASA Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley, an exciting new project is underway that I think of as the first lunar outpost on Earth.

Just as a lunar outpost design is optimized for the unique environment of the moon, this project will be tailored for its unique location on Earth. We call it "NASA’s Sustainability Base."

(Music)

(Sound of rocket launch)

William McDonough, Architect & Principal, McDonough + Partners: Leadership has often been described as being taken to some place that you would never have gotten to on your own. The kind of leadership that NASA has exhibited in space, is exactly the kind of leadership we need exhibited on the Earth.

The world needs a whole new way of thinking about the way we design and make things. Because the current designs are destructive to the Earth and its systems, and we need new designs that are positive to the Earth and its systems. To achieve this, everything we use, make and create needs to be optimized for the place it exists. This is what we call being native to place.

And if we look at the Sustainability Base, it’s a design that would fit exactly in its local climate, with local culture, for comfort, for civility, for enhancement of society and the environment.

Kevin Burke, Architect & Partner, McDonough + Partners: This closed-loop thinking that NASA has to do, just by nature in trying to sustain life outside of the Earth eco-system, is something that we try to employ back in our designs here on Earth. So there’s a wonderful wedding of the NASA technologies and our approach to architecture, design and sustainability.

June Grant, Architect, AECOM Design: Our goal is to reduce energy demand through passive strategies and utilize solar and other systems to supply enough power so that the building will have net-zero energy consumption. It fits with the idea of self-sufficiency goals of a lunar base.

From its innovative, environmentally friendly materials and efficient design to its real-time intelligent control systems, this structure will exceed today’s expectations for a high-performance building.

Dougal MacLise, Research Scientist, NASA Ames Research Center: We will take sensor technologies originally developed for NASA space missions and incorporate them into the new building. A dynamic web connecting these sensors will continuously monitor all subsystems.

We are designing a system that could be likened to biofeedback for buildings. This will truly be an intelligent, intuitive and cognitive system.

Steve Hipskind, Chief, Earth Sciences, NASA Ames Research Center: Today, NASA and its partners are working to develop the tools that will redefine the way we visualize and think about our home planet. Projects such as Google Earth and our Planetary Skin partnership with Cisco represent technologies that can visualize and track changes to the environment from global to regional and down to neighborhood scales.

By linking the choices of an individual to the performance of a building, to the energy consumption of a city, to the carbon footprint of a region, we can better understand and manage climate change. Creating and testing new decision-support tools like these will be an essential component of the Sustainability Base project. Stev

e Zornetzer, Associate Center Director, NASA Ames Research Center: Just as the lunar landing on Tranquility Base represented a giant leap during the space race, so Sustainability Base will stand as an icon symbolizing NASA’s dedication to solving the environmental challenges we face on Earth.

We are proud that this project will be unique, developed in a way that only NASA can, showcasing what can be accomplished today, while serving as a living experimental platform for new energy-efficient technologies as they evolve in the future. This effort will also serve as an engine for public-private partnerships to accelerate the development of Earth-friendly innovations.

It’s time for the next giant leap. Be a part of our journey with NASA’s Sustainability Base.

(Music)

www.nasa.gov/centers/ames/greenspace

Produced by the NASA Ames Video Production Group Moffett Field, Calif.

Sustainability Base: Congratulations Message from John Holdren, OSTP - Click here to hear the video.
Sustainability Base: The Reality Begins - Click here to hear the video.
Groundbreaking - Click here to hear the video.
NASA Inductive monitoring System - Click here to hear the video.
Time-Laspe construction - Click here to hear the video.


Photos: Construction Photos
The lobby of Sustainability Base is open through both floors, creating a spacious feel.
Narrow floors and floor-to-ceiling windows provide daylight, fresh air and panoramic views.
An aerial view of the NASA Ames Research Center campus, looking out towards San Francisco Bay. The Sustainability Base site is located among the trees to the lower right of Bush Circle.
Sustainability Base seen from the entrance to NASA Ames Research Center.
Sustainability Base seen from Bush Circle.
Sustainability Base blends seamlessly with nature.
Sustainability Base lives in harmony with its natural surroundings – including local fauna.
Photos: Event Photos
Sustainability Base groundbreaking site.
John Elwood of Swinerton Builders offers remarks at the Sustainability Base groundbreaking ceremony.
The Sustainability Base dedication plaque explains NASA’s commitment to sustainability as well as the connection to the Apollo 11 mission and Tranquility Base on the Moon.
The Sustainability Base team performs the ceremonial groundbreaking.

Renderings
The architect's aerial rendering of Sustainability Base.
Credit: William McDonough + Partners

The architect's view of Sustainability Base from Bush Circle. Credit: William McDonough + Partners


The architect's rendering of Sustainability Base from the courtyard. Credit: William McDonough + Partners

The architect's rendering of Sustainability Base as viewed from Clark Street on the NASA Ames campus. Credit: William McDonough + Partners

News Stories
NASA’s knowledge for sustainable living 02.23.11 – CNN

Masters Of Innovation: Space Age Green 01.28.11 – PlumTV

NASA research center goes ultragreen 02.23.11 – USA Today


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

FAQ: Background

What is Sustainability Base?
Sustainability Base is a NASA office building that uses NASA innovations and technology developed for aeronautics and space programs to expand the possibilities of building sustainably on Earth. It also serves as a test bed for emerging technologies from NASA and its partners. In short, the building is sustainability done as only NASA can – the next giant leap for humankind.

An office building with its own Web site? What's so special about it?


An office building with its own Web site? What's so special about it?
From design through operations, many elements make Sustainability Base distinct. In addition to being unique among federal government buildings in its level of sustainability, the building is highly intelligent, even intuitive. It is designed to anticipate and react to changes in sunlight, temperature and usage and can optimize its performance automatically, in real time, in response to internal and external change.

Where is Sustainability Base?
Sustainability Base is on the campus of NASA Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley – more specifically, Moffett Field, California.

How did the project come about?
Ames Research Center won a NASA-wide "Renovation by Replacement" (RbR) competition in 2007. RbR is designed to replace antiquated and inefficient buildings with new, energy-efficient buildings. Steve Zornetzer, Associate Center Director for NASA Ames, inspired by architect and sustainability pioneer Bill McDonough, saw an opportunity to take the closed-loop thinking that NASA uses in space exploration and apply it to a green building on Earth.

I thought NASA was all about space. Why are you doing this project?
As NASA Ames Center Director Pete Worden says, "This tiny planet we share is our only home." NASA is committed to advancing technology and innovations that will bring solutions to address Earth's critical challenges. We are applying existing NASA innovations, as well as commercially available technologies, to help create a building that leaves virtually no footprint. Sustainability Base is proof not only that this level of sustainable building possible, but also that it is imperative for the health of our planet.

NASA Ames innovation is already being used in projects such as Google Earth and Planetary Skin. Sustainability Base is on the same continuum, at a local level.

As well, the building gives us the opportunity to test new closed-loop technologies that we eventually want to use in our space programs.

Last but not least, NASA recognizes that happy, healthy people are more productive, and therefore it's in the agency's best interest – as well as that of the environment and employees – to create a supportive, nurturing workplace.

Why is it called Sustainability Base?
Sustainability Base is named as a parallel to Tranquility Base, the name Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong gave to the site of the first moon landing.

What are the parallels between Sustainability Base and Tranquility Base?
Just as the lunar landing on Tranquility Base represented a giant leap during the space race, so Sustainability Base will stand as an icon symbolizing NASA's dedication to solving the environmental challenges we face on Earth.

There's another connection to the Moon, too: Ground was broken on Sustainability Base in 2009, during the 40th anniversary celebration of the moon landing.

How is Sustainability Base like a lunar outpost?
A lunar outpost is optimized for the unique environment of the moon, and it is designed to be self-sufficient; by the same token, Sustainability Base is tailored to its unique location on Earth – and designed to be self-sufficient with respect to consumption of Earth's resources.

DESIGN & TECHNOLOGIES
What does it mean that Sustainability Base is designed "native to place"?
A building designed "native to place" means that everything created and used during the ideation, planning and construction process – through day-to-day operations – is optimized for the unique environment in which it lives. Sustainability Base is designed to mesh perfectly with its Silicon Valley climate and culture; it is designed for comfort and stability and to enhance the well-being of occupants and its surroundings, as well as the environment.

What NASA innovations are used in Sustainability Base?
NASA scientists will use NASA innovations in two areas of the building – the intelligent control system and the water recovery system. To learn more about these technologies, including how they are used in the aeronautics and space programs, visit the Science section of this site. Sustainability Base will also feature products that had their start at NASA, such as the Energy Server from Bloom Energy and photovoltaic (solar) panels from SunPower.

What is significant about the materials used in Sustainability Base?
The materials in Sustainability Base are safe and healthy for the environment as well as for humans. The building was designed using a framework called Cradle to Cradle(R), which models human industry on nature's processes. In this context, materials are viewed as nutrients circulating in healthy, safe metabolisms – either biological (in which it can go back to the soil) or technical (in which it can be endlessly upcycled). This is a holistic economic, industrial and social framework that seeks to create systems that are not just efficient but essentially eliminate the concept of waste altogether.

Did it cost more to construct Sustainability Base than a similar 'traditional' building?
It cost slightly more to build an extremely high-performance building because some of the sustainable elements, like geothermal wells, are an up-front expense that pay off in the long run. We calculate that the return on the additional investment will be paid back to the taxpayer in about nine years. After that time, energy costs and maintenance costs for Sustainability Base are expected to be significantly lower than for a conventional building of equivalent size. Over the building's life span, we estimate that taxpayers will save considerable money (compared to a conventional building) because of these measures.

Will Sustainability Base cost less to operate than a traditional office building?
Because Sustainability Base will be a high-performance building, utility costs will be extremely low. Instead of using conventional heating and air conditioning systems, for example, Sustainability Base uses deep closed-loop groundwater wells to provide cooling. That means there will be greatly reduced HVAC system maintenance costs. Another example is electricity: Rather than rely on electrical power from an external provider, Sustainability Base will generate power from a variety of renewable resources, including an array of photovoltaics and a highly efficient fuel cell. The power produced in excess of the electrical energy requirements of the building will be available to meet other demands on the NASA Ames campus.

What is the significance of the building’s shape?
There are a few reasons why the building looks as it does. On a purely practical level, it is the last building to be constructed in the central circle on the NASA Ames campus, and so it is geometrically aligned to 'complete the circle' with other buildings.

Traditional buildings have columns inside that provide support and stability. The NASA Ames campus, however, is populated by wind tunnels that have a large 'exoskeleton' – that is, the supports are on the outside of the building, to allow unobstructed air flow through the test chambers. Sustainability Base, too, has an exoskeleton. This not only allows daylight and fresh air to flow smoothly inside the building; it creates an uninterrupted interior space, provides greater seismic stability and is visually in keeping with the cultural context of NASA Ames.

Sustainability Base is oriented to maximize the amount of daylight that reaches the offices inside, and to take advantage of the natural wind patterns coming off San Francisco Bay, thereby ensuring plenty of fresh air and breeze for occupants. The building is narrow – 54' wide – which means that every person inside is within 27' of an operable window. Cradle to Cradle is a registered trademark of McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry

SUSTAINABILITY

How will Sustainability Base meet the goal of zero-net energy?
There are several ways in which Sustainability Base will both reduce its energy consumption and also generate its own energy. First, the building features floor-to-ceiling windows, narrow floors and no interior columns and because it's designed and positioned relative to the sun’s arc, no artificial lighting will be necessary for all but about 40 days of the year. That’s the biggest energy-saving element. Almost all the power needed to supply the building will be generated on-site – about 30 percent will come from photovoltaic solar panels. A fuel cell and a small wind turbine will contribute to the remainder of the energy required by the building. Heating and cooling will come from 99 geothermal wells with ground-source heat pumps. A sophisticated building intelligence and control system will ensure that Sustainability Base operates in the most energy-efficient way possible. Finally, energy dashboards on each computer will enable occupants to monitor and influence their own energy use.

How will Sustainability Base reduce water consumption by 90 percent?
On the nature side, the building’s landscape is populated by plants that need minimal water (drought-tolerant plants) and a low-maintenance species of grass. The little irrigation that is necessary will be provided from naturally cleaned and treated groundwater.

On the science side, the building will use a NASA-developed forward-osmosis water treatment system. Originally designed by NASA scientists for use on the International Space Station, this system has now been adapted to use on Earth. Greywater (water that drains from the bathroom sinks and showers) will be collected and cleaned, then reused in the building for flushing toilets and urinals.

What makes Sustainability Base so green?
Many factors impact how sustainable a building will be including design, its natural setting, materials, technologies and the people who will use it. Here are some of the elements that make Sustainability Base so green.
  • Natural shading
  • Optimized daylight
  • Native and drought-tolerant landscaping
  • Bioswales that minimize stormwater runoff
  • 100 percent non-potable, treated groundwater for landscape irrigation
  • 99 geothermal wells with ground-source heat pumps
  • Radiant cooling panels on the ceiling
  • Solar, single-ply cool roof
  • Locally procured non-toxic materials
  • Under-floor fresh air ventilation and humidity control
  • Perimeter radiant heating
  • Solar water heaters
  • Ultra-low-flush plumbing fixtures
  • Dual plumbing to allow for the use of greywater to flush toilets and urinals
  • Exterior sunshade louvers
  • Tall floor-to-floor heights
  • Narrow floor width
  • Floor-to-ceiling windows
  • Light shelves
  • Skylights on the second floor
  • Exterior natural shade structures and vine screens
  • A mixed-mode ventilation system with operable windows controlled both by occupants and the intelligent system
  • Computer-controlled windows to flush the building with cool air at night
  • A wind turbine (off-site)
  • Individual energy dashboards for each building occupant
  • A real-time building energy dashboard on display in the lobby
  • Exterior solar-charged workspaces


  • What is special about the landscaping?
    The primary goal of the landscape design was to create an inviting outdoor space that allows for relaxation and an alternative work space. A garden walkway leads people to the building, and there are a variety of places where people can sit quietly and work in harmony with nature. The paved elements are light in color, which reduces the amount of heat they collect and then give off (the'heat island' effect).

    California native plants and non-invasive, drought-tolerant species make up the majority of the landscape flora, and more than 75 percent of the plants on the site have low water requirements. As well, the grass is a special hybrid blend that requires no mowing and little maintenance.

    The Sustainability Base site also includes bioswales – pathways of small rocks that naturally filter silt and pollution, which prevents contaminants from getting into the storm water system and thus the Bay.

    Could Sustainability Base have been built anywhere else?
    No...and yes. No, in that Sustainability Base is designed "native to place," meaning it takes advantage of all the natural resources available in this specific location, on this specific site – using native plants, orienting the building with regard to sun and wind patterns, etc. It does help that Moffett Field has a very temperate climate, and it's rare that extremes in temperature adjustment are necessary.

    That said, the concept of Sustainability Base – that is, a fully self-sustaining building – could be transposed to other locations. Any given place has different needs and resources, so each net-zero-energy building would be designed with a different set of specifications and using different types of power generation.

    WORKPLACE

    Who will work in Sustainability Base?
    Sustainability Base will be the workplace for approximately 210 NASA Ames civil servants and contractors.

    What makes Sustainability Base such a cool place to work?
    One of the core reasons we created Sustainability Base was to provide a supportive, nurturing work environment. Imagine being able to work in a place with little or no artificial lighting, surrounded by nature and greenery, where the air was always fresh, and you could work outdoors or inside as you felt inclined. Humans are meant to live in harmony with nature; studies show it makes people happier and more productive. To work in a place that’s not only designed for your own well-being, but also for that of the environment – that's pretty cool.

    How will employees help keep the building green?
    Everyone who works at Sustainability Base will have a dashboard on their laptop computer, which will show them how much energy they’re currently using and where that energy use is coming from. The dashboard program will give each person options for reducing their energy load at any given moment with activities as simple as lowering the shades or opening a window. With the insights they will have to their energy use, 'neighborhoods' (i.e., work teams who work in close physical proximity) can compete with each other to see who uses the least energy (or saves the most).

    Will people be able to work outside of the building?
    Yes, there are outdoors work areas – patios with picnic tables, covered by photovoltaic umbrellas that gather energy to power laptops and smart phones.

    RESEARCH

    What research is being done at Sustainability Base?
    Research will be conducted on how to apply NASA technologies to green buildings, as well as on emerging technologies in the sustainable building industry. Some of the NASA technologies we will investigate include aero-thermal computational modeling, intelligent control approaches, anomaly detection algorithms, and techniques to predict equipment degradation. Through collaborative research with our partners, we will also incorporate and test novel technologies and concepts that enable a more sustainable, efficient, and enjoyable work environment.

    How will Sustainability Base serve as a 'test bed' for new technologies?
    Sustainability Base has two nearly identical wings, and when new technologies are tested, they’ll be implemented in one wing (the experimental wing), while the other serves as a control, or baseline. There are numerous possibilities for testing new technologies claiming to create added energy efficiencies. For example, we could put a new type of high-performance window in one wing and, using our extensive network of building sensors, measure how these windows affect energy usage.

    Why aren't more buildings done this way?
    In the future – beginning now – more buildings will be constructed this way. Part of the reason we built Sustainability Base was to demonstrate what’s possible and to positively influence how other buildings – in the federal government and beyond – are designed, built and operated.

    TEAM & Partners

    Who is the Sustainability Base team?

    Olga M. Dominguez
    Assistant Administrator
    Office of Strategic Infrastructure
    NASA Headquarters

    Steven F. Zornetzer
    Associate Center Director
    NASA Ames Research Cente

    Deborah L. Feng
    Director of Center Operations
    NASA Ames Research Center

    Krisstina L. Wilmoth
    Assistant Director for Research Collaborations and Institutional Development
    NASA Ames Research Center

    Michael T. Flynn
    Principal Investigator, Bioengineering Branch
    NASA Ames Research Center

    Scott D. Poll
    Deputy Lead, Diagnostics and Prognostics Group
    NASA Ames Research Center

    Corey A. Ippolito
    Aerospace Scientist
    NASA Ames Research Center

    Bhaskar Saha
    Diagnostics and Prognostics Group
    NASA Ames Research Center

    Bryan Matthews
    Intelligent Data Understanding Group
    NASA Ames Research Center

    Daniel M. Bufton
    Project Manager
    NASA Ames Research Centerr

    Raymond F. Schuler
    Deputy Project Manager
    NASA Ames Research Center

    Rosalind A. Grymes
    Sustainability Initiatives
    NASA Ames Research Center

    Pamela J. Van Orden
    Communications Lead
    NASA Ames Research Center

    Ruth D. Marlaire
    Public Affairs Officer
    NASA Ames Research center

    External Team

    AECOM Architect of Record, building engineering, landscape architecture, interior design

    William McDonough + Partners Design Architect

    Swinerton Builders Construction Contractor

    What organizations are partnered with NASA on Sustainability Base?
    Integrated Building Solutions partnered with NASA to develop a next-generation intelligent, automated, and integrated environmental monitoring and management system for Sustainability Base.

    NASA is also working with Impact Technologies to extend and commercialize NASA-developed software that detects and isolates faults in complex engineered systems. For Sustainability Base, portions of the geothermal heating and cooling system will be modeled and monitored with this software.

    We are also working with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Building Technologies Department on various aspects of the building, including controls systems and building information models (BIMs).

    How can I learn more about partnering with NASA?
    For more information about partnering with NASA Ames, please visit our Technology Partnerships website, where you can learn about our technologies and capabilities, partnering options, and licensing options.

    If you have new ideas or new energy saving technologies that you would like to have tested in Sustainability Base, contact our partnership office to determine if there is an opportunity to do collaborative research with NASA.

    Is the NASA technology In Sustainability Base available for licensing?
    New technologies for Sustainability Base are still in development and not yet available for license. However, NASA Ames, in keeping with the Space Act of 1958, has a long history of licensing its technologies for commercial use, creating new business opportunities and attracting industry partners to work alongside NASA to their mutual benefit. Collaborating with NASA Ames often lowers research and development costs and results in exciting new innovations that improve the quality of life for all Americans. To learn more about licensing NASA technologies, visit our Innovative Partnership Program website.

    Learn More

    Is it possible to visit Sustainability Base?
    Sustainability Base is currently under construction and is expected to open in spring of 2011. NASA plans to offer tours on a limited basis and is considering how best to do that without disrupting the Sustainability Base workplace. Please check back here in mid 2011 for updates on how to arrange a tour.

    In the meantime, we encourage you to visit the Ames Exploration Center and Moffett Field Museum, both open to the public.

    NASA Ames Exploration Center
    The Exploration Center website has all the information you need to plan your visit, and lists current exhibits and upcoming events. The phone number is (650) 604-6274 or (650) 604-6497. The Exploration Center is open Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. and on weekends 12 p.m. – 4 p.m.

    Moffett Field Museum
    The Moffett Museum is open to the public. You may call the museum at 650-964-4024 or visit their website.

    I’d like to do a story about Sustainability Base. Who should I contact for more information?
    Members of the press can contact Ruth Marlaire, NASA Public Affairs Officer at 650/ 604-4709 or by email at Ruth.Marlaire@nasa.gov.

    GLOSSARY

    Adaptive control system
    A system in which automatic means are used to adjust system parameters to achieve optimum performance.

    Algorithm
    A step-by-step procedure for solving a problem.

    Anomaly detection
    A means of detecting patterns in a given data set that do not conform to an established normal behavior.

    Baseline
    Baseline can refer either to specifications for construction or a point of reference (also known as a 'control') in a research context.

    Biological nutrients
    Organic materials that, once used, can be disposed of in the local natural environment and decompose into the soil, providing food for small life forms without poisoning the natural environment.

    Building envelope
    A building envelope is the separation between the interior and the exterior environments of a building. It serves as the outer shell to protect the indoor environment as well as to facilitate its climate control. Building envelope design is a specialized area of architectural and engineering practice that draws from all areas of building science and indoor climate control.

    Building intelligence
    Building intelligence is like biofeedback for buildings. It uses a variety of algorithms to analyze and interpret information from numerous building sensors.

    Building sensor
    A device that measures an aspect of the building's environment and/or performance – for example, temperature, heat load from the sun, amount of breeze, etc. - and converts it into a signal that can be read by the building controller.

    Closed-loop system
    A closed-loop system is one that does not rely on anything outside itself.

    Computational fluid dynamics
    Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) uses numerical methods and algorithms to solve and analyze problems that involve fluid flows.

    Cool roof
    A roof that reflects the sun's heat back to the sky instead of transferring it to the building below.

    Cradle to Cradle(R)
    A play on the phrase "cradle to grave" (which is how most industry approaches materials), Cradle to Cradle(R) models human industry on nature's processes. Materials are viewed as nutrients circulating in healthy, safe metabolisms – either biological (in which it can go back to the soil) or technical (in which it can be endlessly upcycled). This is a holistic economic, industrial and social framework that seeks to create systems that are not just efficient but essentially eliminate the concept of waste altogether.

    Cradle to Cradle(R)is a registered trademark of McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry.

    Daylighting
    Daylighting is the architectural practice of placing windows or other openings and reflective surfaces in such a way that during the day, natural light provides effective internal lighting.

    Diagnostics
    The process of determining the state of or capability of a component to perform its function(s).

    Double pane windows
    Two panes of glass with a buffer in the middle. At Sustainability Base, the buffer is filled with argon, which has a very low level of thermal conductivity. This means that when it's cold outside, the two panes of glass, plus the argon buffer, help keep cold air and the warm air inside – much more energy-efficient than single-pane windows.

    Dual plumbing
    Plumbing that uses two independent piping systems, one that delivers potable water (for example, for sinks and showers) and another that uses recycled water (for flushing toilets and urinals).

    Exoskeleton
    In architectural terms, the placement of supports on a building's exterior rather than interior (where the same supports would be called 'columns').

    Footprint
    The extent to which people, businesses or buildings put a strain on the Earth's resources and ecosystems.

    Geothermal wells
    Geothermal wells harvest the natural, renewable power and heat stored deep in the Earth.

    Glazing
    'Glazing' is a specialized window term. 'Double glaze' windows are the same as 'double pane' windows.

    Greywater
    Greywater (sometimes spelled 'graywater') is water produced from baths, showers, laundry, dishwashers and sinks. It does not include water from toilets (this is designated 'blackwater').

    Groundwater
    Water that occurs below the surface of the Earth, where it occupies spaces in soils or geologic strata. Most groundwater comes from precipitation, which gradually percolates into the Earth.

    Ground-source heat pump
    Also known as a geothermal pump, a central heating system that uses the Earth’s natural heat (or coolness) harvested by geothermal wells.

    HVAC
    Abbreviation for Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning.

    HyDE
    The Hybrid Diagnostic Engine (HyDE) is a model-based reasoning engine designed to detect faults and anomalies in complex systems that are, for a variety of reasons, difficult to model using other techniques.

    Fuel cell
    A fuel cell is an electrochemical device that uses water to convert gas into an electrical current.

    LEED (TM) Platinum
    LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is an internationally recognized green building certification system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, a non-profit organization devoted to developing cost-efficient and energy-saving green buildings throughout the U.S. LEED uses a point system to rate the energy-efficiency of the design, construction, and operation of new construction and the renovation of existing buildings. LEED offers four ratings for qualified buildings, from lowest to highest rating: Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum.

    Load
    The demand upon the operating resources of a system. In the case of energy loads in buildings, the word generally refers to heating, cooling, and electrical (or demand) loads.

    Native plants
    Plants that occur naturally in a region.

    Net-zero energy
    A net-zero energy building generates all the energy needed for its own use (i.e., it operates off the commercial grid).

    Passive solar lighting
    Also known as daylighting. The direct lighting of a space through windows.

    Photosynthetic
    Adjective derived from photosynthesis. A photosynthetic surface uses the sun to create something beneficial, including solar power, a green roof (which produces oxygen, food, etc.) or something else.

    Photovoltaic
    Also known as solar panels, photovoltaic materials convert light from the Sun into electric current.

    Potable water
    Another way of saying water that is safe to drink.

    Prognostics
    An engineering discipline focused on predicting the time at which a component will no longer perform a particular function.

    Simulation
    The imitation of a condition and/or process. Simulations represent certain key characteristics or behaviors of a selected physical or abstract system.

    Smart building
    One designed with special systems and controls to monitor its own energy, lighting, communications, security, HVAC, fire and access control.

    Technical nutrients
    Non-toxic, non-harmful synthetic materials that have no negative effects on the natural environment; they can be used in continuous cycles as the same product without losing their integrity or quality. They can be used over and over again instead of being 'downcycled' into lesser products – a process that ultimately leads to waste.

    Wind turbine
    A rotary device that extracts energy from the wind. If the mechanical energy is used directly by machinery, such as for pumping water, cutting lumber or grinding stones, the machine is called a windmill. If the mechanical energy is instead converted to electricity, the machine is called a wind generator, wind turbine, wind power unit (WPU), wind energy converter (WEC), or aerogenerator.


    Contact Us

    For media inquiries, please contact Ruth Marlaire, NASA Public Affairs Officer at 650/ 604-4709 or by email at Ruth.Marlaire@nasa.gov.

    For specific questions about the Sustainability Base project, please contact Krisstina Wilmoth at NASA Ames Research Center.

    For more information about partnering with NASA Ames, please visit our Technology Partnerships website.

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