NASA Podcasts

NASA Builds Its Greenest Facility
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Narrator: Amid alligators, rocket ships and trips out of this world . . . NASA's greenest facility is taking root in rich history at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. From the plot of land it sits on to the crushed crawlerway rocks that will be used for landscaping, and the iconic firing room window glazing and framing that will hold up new energy-efficient windows . . . it's all about reusing what's old to make a new and better building.

Frank Kline/NASA Construction of Facilities: This building is the best of the best for NASA.

Narrator: The new Propellants North Administrative and Maintenance Facility will be a future hub for spacecraft fueling support and a storage facility for cryogenic fuel transfer equipment. It will be a first-of-its-kind, energy-efficient building for the agency.

Steve Szabo/Jones Edmunds and Associates: The building is designed to be 52 percent more efficient than a traditional commercial building. And to do that we looked at very specific lighting fixtures, design strategies, photovoltaic panels. And we left no stone unturned in that process.

Narrator: It will be a nearly net-zero-energy and water-use facility, and that's not the only thing that makes it special and unique. When complete, the facility will stand as an icon representing NASA's past and future. That's because elements and materials from around the space center are being repurposed and recycled to make the building even greener.

Frank Kline/NASA Construction of Facilities: It's really a dedication to the astronauts and the launch team. Every shuttle passed through the crawlerway. Every launch has been viewed through those windows. And we just thought it was a shame to waste them, so we're actually reusing them.

Steve Szabo/Jones Edmunds and Associates: It's set at the same orientation and angle as it was in the Launch Control Center, looking out toward Launch Pad A and B.

Narrator: That reuse approach comes from the facility's main goal: to achieve the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design, or LEED, Platinum status. Platinum is the highest rating a green building can achieve. There are only 267 in the United States, only one other in Florida and this will be the first for the space agency. It's not just the finished product that will glisten a shade of green when it opens for business -- planned for December 2010. Since August 2009, the construction team has been working to keep the construction site just as eco-friendly.

Jim Peacock/HW Davis Construction: We try to recycle everything on site that we possibly can.

Narrator: To date, 475 tons of concrete, 163 pounds of crushed bottles and aluminum cans, over 2 tons of cardboard, 164 pounds of white paper, 2.3 tons of wood and 3.5 tons of steel have been recycled from the construction site. And these numbers will just increase until the project is complete. The construction team is dedicated to recycling every bit they can. Dumpster diving has even turned into a labor of love.

Frank Kline/NASA Construction of Facilities: It's really amazing when I show up to the site and I actually see someone going through the dumpster to try to segregate the waste to an even higher level. We're around 90 to 95 percent waste that's generated on the site actually gets reused or diverted to some other process. So, right there, that's high performance. To have somebody going in to pull out bottles and cans out of the dumpster so we can recycle an extra can, really just shows you the dedication of the team.

Narrator: Items that would normally go into a landfill also are being used for Kennedy's protected wildlife. Michelle Ramsey/Innovative Heath Applications: Even the silt fencing. After the project's done, we have our girls that will come over and they remove the silt fence and use it for protection of burrows and stakes for burrows for the gopher tortoises later on.

Narrator: The team agrees this environmentally friendly facility is just the beginning for the space center and the agency. Frank Kline/NASA Construction of Facilities: If you drive around the space center, you're not going to see this kind of architecture, this kind of efficiency, this kind of design on any other building that we've done. And I hope this is just the start.

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