Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Net Zero - the Final Frontier

NASA is now experimenting with human habitation on earth. A small project at Moffet Field called "Sustainability Base" will attempt to demonstrate that zero energy consumption is possible at the scale of a commercial facility. It's actually a prototype for a lunar habitat, which is an indication of the direction that the space program is taking. It's a part of a bigger, on-orbit infrastructure and lunar development to prepare for further human exploration. Their website states that they are joining leaders in Silicon Valley and around the globe to put NASA’s data and assets to work mitigating climate change through innovative partnering and intensive collaboration. This structure is a collaboration with the design architect, William McDonough, of "Cradle to Cradle" fame, and AECOM as the project architect.

NASA is promoting their green technologies to the industry and the public. That page is here.

The effort to reduce the impact of structures on the environment has a wide-ranging array of solutions, but to date there has not been the opportunity to benchmark their performance. This structure will measure all means of energy expenditure with sensors throughout, and eventually provide a dataset that will tell which of NASA's proprietary technologies produces real results. This is a common issue for buildings that are setting energy targets via programs such as LEED; the performance doesn't always measure up to the goals without some tweaking over time.

The expected completion date is in early 2011.