The Green Enterprise: California Academy of Sciences
Since 1853, the California Academy of Sciences has been considered one of the world's most respected institutions. Now more than 150 years later, it's continuing to lead by example, showcasing how a museum can be environmentally sustainable from the ground up. Correspondent Sumi Das looks at the green innovations inside, including a living roof that helps reduce energy use, a solar energy installation that cuts down on carbon emissions in the atmosphere, and a building management system that manages temperature and humidity throughout the building.
>> Sumi: Hello, I'm Sumi Das for ZD Net. The California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco has reopened its doors after 3 years
of construction and it's being called the Greenest museum in the world for its architectural design and commitment to sustainable
practices. Today we're going to take the tour and get a look behind the scenes to find out what makes it Green, it's all next on
The Green Enterprise.
Since 1853 The California Academy of Sciences has been considered one of the world's most respected institutions for its
dedication to researching and preserving the natural environment. Now, more than 150 years later they are continuing to lead by example,
from the recyclable materials used in the construction process to the reusable tour maps located in the lobby for visitors. The curators
are showcasing how a museum can be environmentally sustainable from the ground up. Today we'll talk to Aaron Pope, the Manager of
Sustainability Programs and Ari Harding, the Museum's Management System's Analyst, they'll show us the Green innovations taking place
at the museum. And finally, we'll sit down with Pope and talk about the challenges in building a Green museum and what their plan
is going forward.
One of the highlights of the academy is this living roof, it has more than 1 point 7 million individual plants and it covers
2 1/2 acres.
Aaron we're standing on the living roof, explain to us the thinking that went behind the design of this roof.
>> Aaron: Well, I think the thinking behind this living roof was to balance all the different requirements of this design because it
serves a lot of functions. It's part of the esthetic design of the building, it's a part of a wildlife quarter that connects the building
to the Golden Gate Park, it's part of our passive cooling system, as you see there are skylights here on the hills that open and close
to vent out hot air as well as bring natural sunlight into the Rain Forest in the aquarium. So, there was a lot of different functions
that needed to be incorporated into this living roof and it's a very complicated process to make sure that it satisfied all of them.
>> Sumi: And can you tell us about some of the more unique features, it seems like there are a ton of them, but some of the more unique
characteristics of the roof?
>> Aaron: Right, so, one of the most unique things you'll see about it is all of these hills you'll see, they're designed as sort of
a homage to the San Francisco hills, the 7 Hills of San Francisco. The two big hills, they also serve to house the Rain Forest and
>> Sumi: How does this living roof help cut down on the museum's, the academy's energy usage?
>> Aaron: The living roof helps cut down our energy usage in two ways, it's very, very good insulation so during the summer time it
prevents a lot of heat from getting into the building and in the winter time it holds heat into the building. The second reason it
helps reduce our energy costs is it's part of the passive cooling system of the roof; these very steep hills help to channel cold
air into the Piazza, once the cold air enters into the Piazza it's then sucked out through these other windows into the main opening
of public spaces and cools them naturally. So we have a very large public space without having a need for air conditioning and that
saves us a lot of money.
>> Sumi: The academy is also going Green with alternative energy, 8% of the academy's energy comes from this solar installation.
So Aaron we're here on the roof and we see the solar array behind us, explain the technology behind this particular installation
I understand you're using Multicrystalline cells, which achieve more energy?
>> Aaron: That's right; we are using a Multicrystalline Photo Voltaic array here. At the time we designed this building it was the
most efficient type of solar cell on the market, meaning that at least 20% of the energy that comes from sunlight is transformed into
>> Sumi: Are you concerned at all that this technology might be quickly out of date?
>> Aaron: It's not really a concern, it's eventuality, it's already out of date in terms of the technology we're using, there's already
more efficient solar cells on the market but you can't sit around and wait and wait and wait as technology progresses without utilizing
it you have to drive the market place and take some of those technologies and put them in place and see how they perform.
>> Sumi: So why not try to get more energy from solar, why just 8%?
>> Aaron: There was a cost analysis done of this building and, ya know, the resources we had and the amount of solar we wanted, it's
dollar versus say to put more money into our Coral Reef or our Rain Forest or the other energy saving features of the building and this
was sort of the best compromise for all the different energy saving features of the building, was this amount of solar. There's some
very smart people who thought a lot about this and this was sort of the number they came out with.
>> Sumi: We've seen the design and how it's using renewable energy to power some its operations but what makes this museum actually run
day in and day out? The brains of the operation are inside this computer system, the smart software is able to dynamically control
many of the basic functions inside the museum which in turn makes the building more energy efficient. For instance, the windows of
the building open and close automatically depending on the temperature, humidity, and CO2 levels inside, what you end up with is an
environment that fluctuates with the outside climate. Ari Harding is in charge of the operations.
>> Ari: Our most sustainable feature is the natural ventilation for the public spaces. Natural ventilation allowed us to eliminate
air conditioning for the vast majority of the public space in the building.
>> Sumi: One other interesting feature, Harding is able to control the function remotely from this tablet computer. So, what can you
do here, for example, how do you normally use this?
>> Ari: We can control irrigation or the skylight windows or the rain shades for the Piazza.
>> Sumi: The Piazza shades, you can open and close the rain shades and then you also have sun shades and acoustic shades so you can do
all of that from the tablet?
>> Ari: Yes, absolutely.
>> Sumi: So, can you give us a little demonstration here, can you open up the Piazza shades for us?
>> Ari: Yeah, certainly.
>> Sumi: So there we go the Piazza shades are opening and that means that air can flow through the Piazza now.
The museum was also recently awarded a LEAD Platinum certification for its Green efforts. Today the building is the largest
public Platinum rated building in the world LEAD, which stands for Leadership and Energy in Environmental Design, is an organization
responsible for setting standards on eco-friendly construction.
Because it's such a huge undertaking, why was it so important to be LEAD certified, why was that necessary?
>> Ari: Well, the first reason is that the LEAD certification process gave us a standard to aim for, without it we'd kind of be flying
blind and trying to figure out how many solar panels do we want to buy, what do we want to incorporate but we would sort of flying blind.
The LEAD certification process is sort of the watermark now for sustainable buildings so it gave us something to aim for. The second
reason is that we did want to get involved in the LEAD process and help the LEAD program learn how to certify buildings like this,
which are large public spaces, we wanted to help be a part of the solution moving forward.
>> Sumi: So let's talk about some of the materials that were used in this building, here we have the radiant floor tubing that you
were talking about.
>> Ari: Right, so what this is is this is the same type of tubing that's underneath our feet inside the concrete floor here and what it
is is a network of two snake and cross underneath the public floors and we can pump hot or cold water from our existing water supply
through those and that's a very efficient way to cool or heat the public spaces.
>> Sumi: It's more of a constant temperature as well.
>> Ari: Exactly, you're only heating or cooling the low area where people are standing rather than trying to heat or cool the whole
elevated spaces, which would take a lot of energy.
>> Sumi: And then, finally, we have this stuff, what is this?
>> Ari: Right, these --
>> Sumi: A material that's very familiar to a lot of people but they may not recognize it in this form.
>> Ari: Exactly, these are actually, this is denim scraps from a blue jean denim factory. We don't actually have inside our walls scraps
of jeans that people have worn before what we're actually doing is taking the scraps from a denim factory and we're grinding them up,
putting them in this big wad of material and we're using it for insulation, it's just as cheap as fiberglass insulation and it's non-toxic
and it's recycled, so we think it's a much better option for people and for ourselves.
>> Sumi: And it works just as well?
>> Ari: Works just effectively.
>> Sumi: We've taken the tour and seen the sustainable practices at the museum but what were the challenges with making this museum Green?
We sat down with Aaron Pope to learn more about this and what the future holds.
Aaron we've had quite the journey looking around the academy today, the Greening of the museum, was it a big challenge, I mean
it's such a large project?
>> Aaron: I think it was a tremendous challenge, there were literally hundreds and hundreds of experts and dozens of agencies and
organizations and federal government agencies who were involved in planning making sure we got all the proper permits, making sure we
were heading in the right direction, making sure that our vision and our design and our architectural ideas were valid and that they
were going to merge all of these different pieces of the institution together sewed it into sort of a Green box.
>> Sumi: The challenges are to be expected, how did they slow you down?
>> Aaron: Well, I think the main challenge is we were trying to design a very, very Green building; this is a LEAD Platinum building,
which is the highest, ya know, higher standard for Green buildings, but inside this building we had to fit a Rain Forest, a Tropical
Reef, a Natural History Museum, and a Planetarium and a very large public space so when you think about combining all of those different
features together into one building, something like this had never been done before. So, a lot of the challenges were to decide how
we can take all these pieces and make them fit together in a sustainable way.
>> Sumi: What's the future plan for the California Academy of Sciences, five years, ten years down the road?
>> Aaron: Well, it's hard to put specifics on that but I would say that we definitely want to continue to make sure that we continue to
lower our environmental footprint over time to set a good example, we'd like to continue to conduct scientific research about sustainable
issues, and we would like to continue to offer programming, which offer to people about the natural world and the hazards that are facing
it and potential solutions that they may find.
>> Sumi: Aaron, thank you.
>> Aaron: Thank you very much.
>> Sumi: As you've just seen the California Academy of Sciences is researching and showcasing some of the latest Green technology.
Stay tuned, in the weeks ahead we'll show you what other organizations are doing to Green their enterprise.