Blog Post

California Academy of Sciences' New Green Home

The California Academy of Sciences, a collection of exhibits including a massive aquarium, a planetarium and a natural history museum in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, has gotten a new and much greener home. When the academy’s doors reopen in September, they hope for LEED Platinum certification (the highest honor in green building) for the 410,000-square foot building, that its designers say will consume 30 to 35 percent less energy than is required by code.

The Academy gave a sneak peek to the media this week, and we snapped some photos of the new green elements. The entire roof is surrounded with a 30 foot overhang that shades the building and has a strip of 60,000 high-efficiency solar cells (seen below) in the middle that the Academy says satisfies between 5 and 10 percent of the building’s electrical needs.

More eco-eye-candy after the jump.

In addition to the solar cells, the facility boasts a 2.5 acre green roof, self-powered faucet sensors, a 100 percent recycled steel structure and uses reclaimed water from the City of San Francisco to cut its potable water use by 90 percent. And much of the old physical Academy was reused after its demolition – some 9,000 tons of concrete went into roadway construction and 12,000 tons of steel was recycled.

The building’s design started with a simple line drawing (seen above) that architect Renzo Piano drew after surveying the hilly terrain of central San Fran Francisco. Skylights (below) collect natural light and channel it into the light-hungry, four-story artificial rain forest below. Each window is equipped with a heat sensor and motor and can open and close automatically, allowing for natural ventilation.

Some images courtesy of the California Academy of Sciences.