The iconic new California Academy of Sciences building opened in September 2008 is the largest public LEED Platinum-rated building in the world and the world’s greenest museum. This commitment to sustainability extends to all facets of the facility – from the bike racks and rechargeable vehicle stations outside the building, to the radiant sub-floor heating inside and energy-generating solar panels on top of the building.
The US Green Building Council awarded the Academy a Platinum-level LEED certification on October 7, 2008. The LEED program enables all segments of the building industry to seize the opportunity for leadership by implementing nationally-recognized guidelines for sustainable design and construction. In addition to demonstrating the values of the Academy, a LEED-certified building costs less to operate and maintain and (compared to a conventional building) can make a significant impact in reducing carbon emissions.
The LEED program encourages and rewards architects who create innovative, imaginative energy saving solutions. Architect Renzo Piano achieved this in his design for the living roof. Not only does the green rooftop canopy visually connect the building to the park landscape, it also provides significant gains in heating and cooling efficiency. The 15cm-thick soil substrate on the roof act as natural insulation, and every year will keep approximately 14 million liters of rainwater from becoming storm water. The steep slopes of the roof also act as a natural ventilation system, funneling cool air into the open-air plaza on sunny days. The skylights perform as both ambient light sources and a cooling system, automatically opening on warm days to vent hot air from the building.
Solar energy panels
Surrounding the living roof is a large glass canopy with a decorative band of 60,000 photovoltaic cells. These solar panels will generate approximately 213,000 kilowatt-hours of energy per year and provide up to 10% of the Academy's electricity need.
Lighting comes naturally
The expansive, floor-to-ceiling walls of glass will enable 90% of the building’s interior offices to use lighting from natural sources. Skylights, providing natural light to the rainforest and aquarium, are designed to open and close automatically. As hot air rises throughout the day, the skylights will open to allow hot air out from the top of the Academy while louvers below draw in cool air to the lower floors without the need for huge fans or chemical coolants.
A San Francisco-based project offering a solution for day laborers and the surrounding communities received the Global Holcim Awards “Innovation” prize 2009. The Self-contained day labor station is a flexible bus-shelter-like structure that offers shelter, benches, washrooms, a kitchen and an education/training space – creating a sensitive environment for people who find themselves on the edge of the community and at the same time addressing health and safety needs.
Following five regional competitions, 15 Award-winning projects including the New Sustainable California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, USA, will now compete in the first global Holcim Awards competition for sustainable construction projects. The global phase of the competition showcases the best entries from more than 1500 submissions from 118 countries, and encourages innovative, future-oriented and tangible approaches within the building and construction industry.Holcim Awards competition goes global » pour en savoir plus (French) » más información (Spanish) » leia mais (Portuguese) » lesen Sie mehr (German) » per saperne di piú (Italian) » 更多详情 (Chinese) »
The second prize of USD 50,000 went to the “The New Sustainable California Academy of Sciences" – a major public building project in San Francisco, California, USA. The project is led by the renowned architect Renzo Piano (Italy) in collaboration with natural scientist John Patrick Kociolek (USA) from the California Academy of Sciences and environmental engineer and sustainability consultant Jean Rogers (USA) of Ove Arup and Partners, San Francisco. The project demonstrates the successful integration of function, form, technology and nature from economic, environmental and social points of view.
“This outstanding project is not the work of one individual, but of several teams from industry, universities and public institutions. This kind of teamwork is typical for projects in the field of sustainable construction – because sustainability always involves a whole range of aspects,” commented Prof. Santos.Prizes awarded to sustainable construction projects in North America » pour en savoir plus (French) »
This project successfully demonstrates the effective integration of concerns for sustainable construction with sophisticated architectural design. Playing a prototypical role in raising collective awareness about the benefits of environmentally conscious structures, the building is convincing in its synthesis of function, form, technology, and nature. Involving community input from the outset, the project is also to be commended for its ethical consideration of enhancing social experience – i.e., with features such as the living roof, public plaza, and planetarium.
Equally worthy of merit is the material research using mock-ups that test the energy efficiency and visual effect of the proposed methods of construction. Of equal value is the refined sensitivity to ecological issues, displayed, for example, by reclaiming the roof for a public green zone, using solar energy and natural ventilation, as well as deploying high-efficiency electric lighting throughout the building.
The cited reductions in energy consumption are also worthy of attention. This again provides evidence of how technical and natural systems can be optimally merged without compromising aesthetic impact. The project contributes a poetically rich and rigorously considered addition to the existing environment.See more
The project is located on the west coast of the United States. This is a so-called green building design focusing specifically – as many other projects did – on a sophisticated roof construction as an integral part of the design. The entire ensemble is centered on the performance of the roof: the roof as enclosure, as a filter for daylight, as a public terrace, and as a membrane satisfying a series of technical requirements such as water retention, drainage, heat absorption, solar protection, and insulation.
A full-scale prototype was built on site to test the proposed roof assembly as well as disassembly. The lifecycle of the building was considered at the outset of the design process. This facility for a natural history museum will use 30% less energy than a standard structure of comparable size. Additionally, its sustainable features will be part of the exhibition, demonstrating to the viewer how the project works.Download project entry poster (PDF, 8.12 MB) »See more