NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center’s new Facilities Support Center at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., has been certified platinum, the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design’s highest standard for long-term sustainability.
LEED certification, which is determined by the U.S. Green Building Council, recognizes the best strategies for energy reduction and conservation. The certification marks Armstrong’s first platinum-rated building. NASA policy requires all new buildings to be certified to the LEED silver level or higher.
“The CITC (Consolidated Information Technology Center) was our first LEED-certified building, which achieved a silver rating in October 2013,” said NASA Armstrong center director David McBride. “The FSC achieved platinum. This is another step in NASA’s goal to establish more sustainable infrastructure. This facility also raises the bar for our future construction projects and is a part of the center’s master plan,” he added.
The $12.7 million, 38,000-square-foot FSC building incorporates energy and water conservation, solar energy and recycled materials. The $8.8 million, 22,000-square-foot CITC also was NASA’s first LEED-certified data center. The architectural firm Development One, based in Santa Ana, California, designed both structures.
“Energy conservation is the most outstanding feature of the new Facilities Support Center,” said Dan Mullen, Armstrong energy conservation manager. “We estimate that we will see a 46 percent reduction in energy consumption versus a standard building of this type.”
The new building is a result of the center’s organizations puling together, said Gemma Flores, Armstrong’s FSC project manager.
“The success of the Facilities Support Center project, from the planning, design, construction, activation and finally achieving LEED platinum certification, is due to the dedicated collaboration of a number of Armstrong organizations,” Flores said. “Their diligence led to project success and has given the center efficiencies that benefit the center’s mission through innovation, implementing cutting-edge elements and making environmentally conscious decisions.”
The FSC uses the sun to offset overall energy costs by more than 17 percent, Flores said. The facility also uses a combination of natural light that is distributed by solar light tubes to illuminate many areas and light-emitting diodes, or LED, lighting fixtures.
Water usage was another key component in the FSC’s design, where elements combine to use about 40 percent less than standard construction, Flores added. Most of the landscaping requires water for only a short time until it matures. Water used from showers, laundry and restroom sinks – called gray water – is collected in a tank, filtered and pumped back into the facility for use in flushing toilets.
FSC landscaping uses drought-tolerant plants such as ocotillo, agave and desert willow and gravel for ground cover, Flores said. The facility also features water-efficient plumbing fixtures.
Even during the building’s construction phase, conservation was in focus. About 95 percent of the construction waste was recycled and more than 20 percent of its construction materials were made from recycled products, Mullen explained. For example, all of the wall and ceiling insulation was made from recycled denim. In addition, countertops were made from wheat board, considered a rapidly renewable material, Flores added.
Aeronautical elements and surrounding historical buildings and hangars inspire the overall design of the facility. The curved shape of the roofline was designed to resemble the curves of aircraft wings and the front facade reflects the look of NASA Armstrong’s Hangar 4802. The curved surfaces also offer advantages in reflecting natural light to illuminate major work areas, Flores explained. The FSC design also incorporated the use of translucent wall panels and low-energy-transfer windows that allow light to pass through while blocking heat and cold.
The FSC includes collaborative office space, conference rooms, restrooms, shower/changing facilities, fabrication workshops, development and training laboratories and a storage mezzanine.
Comfort and Hays Electric Inc. of Long Beach, Calif., and its subcontractors built the facility.