On Green Scale, NASA Facility Aims High

With Discovery set to make the final space shuttle mission in late February and every aspect of the federal government under the budget microscope, NASA’s future is, yes, up in the air. But on the ground the agency has something new, beautiful and with a high sustainability wow-factor to feel good about: The LEED Platinum-qualified Propellants North Administrative and Maintenance Facility at the Kennedy Space Center.

Propellants North consists of a single-story, 1,800-square-foot shop used to store cryogenic fuel transfer equipment and a two-story, 9,540-square-foot administrative, NASA said. It has all the green bells and whistles, starting in the parking lot, where a solar power canopy feeds an eight-vehicle charging station. On the buildings themselves, 300 photovoltaic panels will generate enough electricity to make Propellants North the agency’s first net-zero facility.

Propellants North, NASA facility, Platinum LEED

image via NASA

There’s much more, including: lots of natural light, and LED lighting where needed; a 7,500-gallon rainwater harvesting system that will directly feed into the facility’s toilets and irrigation, while treated water can be used for drinking and hand washing; a ductless air conditioning system in which air flows underneath the facility’s bamboo flooring and vents can be relocated to different work areas to maximize comfort; and something NASA calls a “controlled power station,” which is like a sleep mode for an entire work station, turning off all the electricity except the computer when someone leaves their work area for a long while.

NASA said that when Propellants North finishes its certification process it will become the agency’s second LEED Platinum building, Florida’s fourth and among around 350 in the United States.

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.