Press Release

AECOM-led Design and Engineering Team Realizes NASA Vision for Sustainability Base on Earth

By SpaceRef Editor
April 20, 2012
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AECOM-led Design and Engineering Team Realizes NASA Vision for Sustainability Base on Earth

LEED Platinum Facility Opens at NASA Ames Research Center at California’s Moffett Field

An integrated design and engineering effort led by AECOM, with a team including William McDonough + Partners, has guided NASA to the U.S. Green Building Council’s Platinum LEED rating for the new N232 office building at the NASA Ames Research Center in California. The facility, known as Sustainability Base, officially opens April 20.

When NASA planned to add the first new building in 20 years to the Ames Research Center, home to much of the agency’s most innovative technology, the goal was that the facility be an exemplar in sustainability. The result is a working environment that prioritizes user health and comfort with natural daylight, fresh air and temperature control while making minimal environmental impacts. Sustainability Base will save more than 60 percent of the energy and more than 80 percent of the water typically used by a facility of its type.

“We have had the honor to work with NASA and a number of firms, including AECOM, to make Sustainability Base a reality,” said William McDonough, founder of William McDonough + Partners, design architect for the project. “This building could be the first to truly demonstrate what ‘continuous improvement’–the heart of our Cradle to Cradle philosophy–means in the built environment, and this is due in large part to NASA’s commitment to making it a test-bed for technologies and strategies over time.”

AECOM’s High-Performance Buildings group provided the innovative engineering behind this model facility. “It was a fascinating puzzle putting the building’s pieces together–from its orientation, to its facade, to its mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems–in a way that unlocked new and better efficiencies,” said Alastair MacGregor, who leads the High-Performance Buildings group at AECOM. “We pride ourselves on a fresh, creative approach to each building. With Sustainability Base we promoted passive, active and renewable strategies to achieve NASA’s goals.”

An onsite fuel cell, roof-mounted photovoltaic solar panels, a geothermal heat pump, passive and low-energy HVAC systems, and intelligent building controls that interact with users are among the building’s advanced engineering features.

“Close collaboration from the earliest stages in an integrated design process was the key to delivering on the ambitious goals of this project,” said AECOM architect and project manager, June Grant.

AECOM served as architect, engineer and landscape architect of record for the project, bringing on William McDonough + Partners for development of the design vision and sustainability goals for the project. The team also included Loisos + Ubbelohde (lighting consultant), Siteworks Studio (landscape design), MBDC (materials assessment) and Todd Ecological (wastewater treatment).

AECOM also served as architect and engineer for NASA’s first LEED Platinum office building at the Langley Research Center in Virginia. The award-winning Manitoba Hydro office building in Winnipeg, Canada, is another high-performance building engineered by AECOM.


AECOM ( is a global provider of professional technical and management support services to a broad range of markets, including transportation, facilities, environmental, energy, water and government. AECOM provides a blend of global reach, local knowledge, innovation and technical excellence in delivering solutions that create, enhance and sustain the world’s built, natural, and social environments. A Fortune 500 company, AECOM serves clients in more than 130 countries and had revenue of $8.1 billion during the 12 months ended Dec. 31, 2011.

Erik Miller, 415-955-2804

SpaceRef staff editor.