SF Opens Academy of Science to Public: LEED Platinum Behemoth

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San Francisco's biggest green building in scale and grandeur (410,000 sq. feet) is opening to the public this week, the new Academy of Sciences, housing a planetarium, aquarium and natural history museum. I was able to take a peek in advance as a member.



The building is pending a LEED Platinum designation, the highest grade given to the US Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating program. It was devised by Italian designer Renzi Piano and features:

  • a huge Expo-67 like green roof, with two and a half acres of native habitat for the endangered Checkerspot butterfly
  • active solar and even more impressive, passive solar lighting and passive ventilation, featuring outdoor air supplied the surrounding Golden Gate Park "Virginia mated with Borneo" ecosystem (thanks Mark Reisner).
  • A living rainforest display with simulated rainfall, semi-free roaming birds and lots of real humidity in a self-contained orb (pictured below).
  • A bunch of eco features such as denim insulation, recycled steel structural members and guiding frogprints from points of local public transportation egress.  



I loved the covered piazza created in the center of the building. When I entered it, I was the only one in its large but cozy space. The air was fresh and cooler than the rest of the building, providing a needed respite fron the crowds of sneak peak members milling about the exhibits.

The piazza, which an attentive guide told me was created as an homage to Piano's native Italy's central public spaces, reminded me of San Francisco cafes, which have a habit of leaving their door open even on the chilliest of winter days (this was a foggy summer morning in the Sunset District, after all).

My only moment of disappointment was in the bathroom, where signs above the toilets bragged about how "these highly-efficient water conserving toilets are available for purchase for your home, too." 

Yeah, they sure are. At 1.6 gallons per flush (gpf) they are required for any new construction or remodel throughout the state. Our home 0.8/ 1.4 gpf model is nearly twice as efficient, and cost only $50 after our water district rebate.

Other than that, splendissima





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Passive Solar Home Design from Passive Solar Home Design on October 23, 2008 6:35 PM

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About the Author

    Warren Karlenzig
Warren Karlenzig, Common Current founder and president, has worked with the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (lead co-author United Nations Shanghai Manual: A Guide to Sustainable Urban Development in the 21st Century, 2011); United Nations Center for Regional Development (training of mayors from 13 Asian nations on city sustainable economic development and technology); provinces of Guizhou and Guangdong, China (urban sustainability master planning and green city standards); the United States White House and Environmental Protection Agency (Eco-Industrial Park planning and Industrial Ecology primer); the nation of South Korea ("New Cities Green Metrics"); The European Union ("Green and Connected Cities Initiative"); the State of California ("Comprehensive Recycling Communities" and "Sustainable Community Plans"); major cities; and the world's largest corporations developing policy, strategy, financing and critical operational capacities for 20 years.

Present and recent clients include the Guangzhou Planning Agency; the Global Forum on Human Settlements; the Shanghai 2010 World Expo Bureau; the US Department of State; the Asian Institute for Energy, Environment and Sustainability; the David and Lucile Packard Foundation; the non-governmental organization Ecocity Builders; a major mixed-use real estate development corporation; an educational sustainability non-profit; and global corporations. Read more here.

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This page contains a single entry by Warren Karlenzig published on September 23, 2008 2:08 PM.

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