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Bringing NASA Technology Back to Earth

Harnessing asteroids. Sending humans to Mars. NASA has laid out some pretty sci-fi sounding plans for the next 20 years of space travel, but a more critical mission -- at least for the sustainability of human life here on earth -- may be the one it launched in Mountain View, California, just over two years ago: The Sustainability Base at the NASA Ames Research Center. The 50,000-square-foot lunar-shaped structure is the greenest government building ever built, as well as both a testament to and test bed for NASA aerospace technology. The Base produces more energy than it consumes, powered in part by fuel cell technology developed to send the Curiosity rover to Mars. It will eventually use 90 percent less water than a conventional building, recycling its water via a version of a system deployed on the International Space Station. And all of this technology is housed in a striking LEED Platinum–certified structure that maximizes airflow and sunlight to such an extent that for 325 days out of the year, no artificial lighting is necessary. So what's it like to work in a "space station on earth"? What would it take for every place of work to be a Sustainability Base? I checked in with two innovators who were (and are, since the Base is an ever-evolving endeavor) driving forces for the project: Steve Zornetzer, Associate Director of the Ames Research Center, and Alastair Reilly, a director at the architecture firm that designed the Base, William McDonough and Partners. Jennifer Grayson: The Sustainability Base opened just over two years ago along with some extraordinary expectations. How is it going so far? Steve Zornetzer: From an energy efficiency point of view, the building is performing very close to what we expected. We're still tweaking it, but the bottom line is that we're producing more than twice the energy the building consumes each year. Read entire interview via Huffington Post Blog by Jennifer Grayson.

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