NASA Podcasts

NASA’s Sustainability Base: Window to the Future on Earth
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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.”

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.

Steve 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.

Produced by the NASA Ames Video Production Group
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