Green Building From Outer Space … Sort of.
This past July marked the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, when astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the surface of the moon, getting an historical perspective on our planet. For the first time, it was viewed objectively by the human eye, and captured for posterity on film.
The images of our planet have since become iconic, inspiring the then-burgeoning environmental movement. This is not to mention how they sparked the imaginations of writers, world leaders, and people from all walks of life. If the moon landings were good for anything, then surely this simple act of putting our planet on film to give us a perspective on its value to us is not to be discounted.
And they also inspired even further innovations when it comes to how to create more sustainable green building practices too. Here’s an example.
These many years later, NASA has planned the construction of the new Sustainability Base in Moffatt Field California, soon to be the greenest federal building in the United States. Along with plans to make this project an example of net-zero building, through the use of solar panels, fuel cells, heating and cooling systems based on airflow controls and geothermal wells, and water-recycling technology, the building will be equipped with an ‘intelligent control system’.
From the article:
The centerpiece of the building’s cutting-edge technology is its intelligent control system, which is based on ones originally developed for NASA spacecraft. A computer inside Sustainability Base will connect to the Internet to call up weather forecasts for the local area to help it plan environmental control. It will have access to electronic calendars of workers in the building, so it can predict how many people will be at a given meeting, and adjust heating and cooling systems appropriately.
It may be looked upon as something of an irony that the agency we all associate with the exploration of other planets has turned to more earthly concerns. Yet, given that the Apollo 11 moon mission in July of 1969 became less about getting to the moon, and more about seeing our world from a new perspective, perhaps innovation in green building isn’t so surprising a venture for NASA after all.
And perhaps with these new technologies at work here on earth, maybe this is another area in NASA’s mandate: to one day use the same technology to get us to where we can efficiently sustain life on other planets too.
Be sure to check the comments section of the article quoted above. Some of the commenters have begun an interesting conversation about this last point – some in favour of NASA’s emphasis on green building as a part of its mandate, some against the idea.