NASA Building 12 Earns LEED® Gold Certification

(October 14, 2014) - Gardens are sustainable and aesthetically-pleasing additions to any building, whether on the surrounding grounds or even high above, on the roof. One very visible roof on the NASA Johnson Space campus in Houston, TX covers Building 12, certified LEED Gold by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). The 33rd LEED-certified building on the campus and the first on the grounds to sprout a green roof; the facility showcases one highly visible symbol of the sustainable features woven into both the exterior and the interior of the building. With its nearly 70,000 plants used to help eliminate the heat-island effect and reduce stormwater runoff, it is also a "working" roof outfitted with wind turbines to increase the building's energy efficiency by generating up to 3,100 kWh of electricity per year.

HDR designed the interior and exterior renovations, and provided sustainable design on the building that was voted "Best Green Project" by Engineering News Record (ENR) magazine in late 2013. Stripping the two-story, 67,348 square-foot facility down to its structural steel skin, upgrades or replacements of all major systems were incorporated to make it compliant with current NASA Standards and other life safety, building, energy, and accessibility codes. A Brownfield redevelopment project, all asbestos was removed from the existing building and extensive structural renovations ensure it can now safely hold the 1.2 million pounds of soil needed for its vegetated roof.

Johnson Space Center Project Manager, Jeffry White says, "Overall the vegetated roof makes the building envelope more energy efficient. It takes less energy to heat and cool the building. The green roof is a great insulator and helps reduce noise level, as well.  If you have a noise, it will bounce off a regular roof and reflect, but in this type of roof, it will actually absorb it. So there's quite a few benefits to it."

Utilizing the latest in green design, this home to mission support and administrative staff   incorporates innovative and energy-saving features to promote occupant comfort and minimize energy use. Sunshades help mitigate the intense sun of southern Texas, and include photovoltaic collectors. Natural daylight is infused throughout the interior, and work stations are located at the perimeter and offices at the center, providing outdoor views for most occupants. Occupant controls are also included for lighting and thermal comfort, and to reduce energy use. The total estimated energy cost savings in the renovated building is 39 percent, compared to an ASHRAE 90.1-2004 baseline.

Other sustainable features include:

  • Stormwater runoff is reduced by 25 percent
  • Low-emitting materials such as paints, adhesives, and carpets are used throughout to enhance the indoor air quality 
  • Low-flow plumbing fixtures reduce water use by 43.7 percent 

About NASA Johnson Space Center
The teams that work in NASA Mission Control, Houston, have been vital to every U.S. human spaceflight since the Gemini IV mission in 1965, including the Apollo missions that took humans to the moon and the more than 110 space shuttle flights since 1981.