NASA Sustainability Base

Sustainability Base Featured on NPR

The Sustainability Base at the NASA Ames Research Center was featured on NPR this week, part of Joe Palca’s series “Joe’s Big Idea.” Palca interviews Steve Zornetzer, Associate Director of the Ames Research Center about the design of Sustainability Base and how the building showed that thinking about energy usage when designing a building is key to making savings.


Zornetzer went to a conference at NASA’s Johnson Space Center where an architect named William McDonough was speaking. McDonough’s talk was all about green buildings — buildings that don’t just save energy and recycle, but reuse resources whenever possible.

“I went up to him afterwards,” recalls Zornetzer. “I said, ‘You and I have to talk, because I want to build the greenest building in the federal government, and I need your help.’ So we just found a small room right after his talk, and we spent two hours with scrap paper and napkins and coffee and we were just talking about how we might proceed.”

Sustainability Base has been up and running for three years now. It looks unusual. There’s an exterior steel skeleton. This not only protects the building from earthquake damage, but also allows in breezes that can cool the building on a hot day. It also allows in sunlight, so for most of the year, the interior is illuminated by natural light.


Listen to the story here: