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NASA Unveils Greenest Federal Building In the Nation 172

Posted by samzenpus
from the green-space dept.
An anonymous reader writes "NASA just unveiled its new Sustainability Base — an exceptionally efficient building that harnesses technology developed for the International Space Station. The high-tech complex produces more energy than it consumes and it was just awarded LEED Platinum certification, making it the greenest federal building in the nation. The project features an extensive network of wireless sensors that allow the building to automatically react to changes in weather and occupancy and NASA's forward-osmosis water recycling system, which cuts water use by 90% compared to a traditional building."
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NASA Unveils Greenest Federal Building In the Nation

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  • by Dr. Hellno (1159307) on Friday April 20, 2012 @05:49AM (#39743919)

    Everyone knows that the solar panels consume far more energy in their production than they ever produce in their lifetime

    Completely bogus. [wikipedia.org] It takes maybe 1-4 years to recoup the energy cost of construction, and the panels can last 30 years.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 20, 2012 @05:57AM (#39743953)

    Everyone knows that the solar panels consume far more energy in their production than they ever produce in their lifetime

    Completely bogus. [wikipedia.org] It takes maybe 1-4 years to recoup the energy cost of construction, and the panels can last 30 years.

    When you look at not just your "source", but the source's source, over at http://alpha.chem.umb.edu/chemistry/ch471/evans%20files/Net_Energy%20solar%20cells.pdf
    You will find it's not as simple as you make it out to be.
    "However, it should be noted that the above payback periods assume that the modules are always operated at their maximum power points [5], as with a maximum power point tracker. It is also assumed that no photovoltaic power is wasted or dumped, as would sometimes occur in many stand-alone systems, such as those using battery storage"

    Solar panels are NOT working at their maximum power point during most days of the year. Not even close to half of it, actually. The time to "recoup" the production energy will be significantly longer than you or the Wikipedia "summary" imply.

  • by Arker (91948) on Friday April 20, 2012 @06:34AM (#39744095) Homepage

    Sorry, the truth isnt nearly as cleancut as either of you want to make it.

    It takes up to 4 years assuming constant peak utilisation according to the source you point to. Constant peak utilisation is obviously an extremely unrealistic assumption.

    More plausible usage patterns would result in longer times to break even. In practice tropical installations with well chosen location can get close to that. Marginal usage cases may never recoup in that sense at all though. Economically it can still make sense for other reasons, of course, but that is hardly 'green' if that has any meaning other than being a silly codeword for politically correct.

  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Friday April 20, 2012 @07:03AM (#39744173) Journal

    You are eating someone's shit, breathing someone's farts, eating someone's rotting corpse and drinking someone's pee. Welcome to the wonderful world of nature. (Plants grow on fertilizer (shit), oxygen is the bad breath of plants, meat and plants are dead bodies, and every bit of water has been through someone's digestive track).

    Always strikes me as funny that people who would happily pay a fortune for the right to drink from a spring that a bear shat in but refuse to drink tap water that has been filtered and monitored to hell and back. You were made from dirt, eat dirt and will become the dirt in someone elses cycle of life. Enjoy!

  • by kj_kabaje (1241696) on Friday April 20, 2012 @07:46AM (#39744347)
    You math is a bit off: 25 000 000 / 55 000 = 454.545455
  • by PopeRatzo (965947) on Friday April 20, 2012 @07:46AM (#39744349) Homepage Journal

    The time to "recoup" the production energy will be significantly longer than you or the Wikipedia "summary" imply.

    But even "significantly longer" is infinitely better than "never", so for those keeping score, the AC who said,

    Everyone knows that the solar panels consume far more energy in their production than they ever produce in their lifetime

    ...is completely full of shit.

  • Re:Grün (Score:5, Informative)

    by PopeRatzo (965947) on Friday April 20, 2012 @07:51AM (#39744377) Homepage Journal

    Parking lot filled with SUVs, no bike rack, what a green environment.

    There are bike racks on both sides of the front door, and only 3 SUVs in the parking lot.

  • Re:Lies (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 20, 2012 @08:24AM (#39744529)

    From NASA's site it looks like the majority of power comes from an on-site fuel cell.

    That's a bit like me building a big garage, installing a big-ass natural gas generator and saying my building returns power to the grid.

    Now yes, fuel cells are better than natural gas, but it's still not the building producing it's own power. It's a small power plant on the same lot as the building

    Bloom boxes (the fuel cells mentioned in the article) use natural gas as well. Then it's only question about the efficiency (in regards to CO2 and emissions).

    Fuel cells might be the most efficient method of producing electricity in small scale, but in larger scale they tend to lose to bigger plants... for now (potential is higher though). Bloom boxes are rated for 100 kW and 200 kW approximately, with > 50% electrical efficiency. Gas turbines, gas engines can achieve this, but only in larger scale, thus a blanket statement that fuel cells are better, is bit over-extended.

    The problem is with the overall efficiency: can the heat be utilized effectively. Bigger (100 MW+) plants can invest more to the heat utilization, even produce more electricity with combined cycle, and thus exceed 60% electrical efficiency. But the advantage with distributed power production comes from local possibilities. If you install a fuel cell in a location that has a need for high (or low) grade heat, in approximately 100kW range, your overall efficiency is very very good. The tendency is even more so that it's better to install it to a place that needs heat, instead of a place that produces gas. Of course sometimes these can be combined (waste water treatment plants for example).

  • by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Friday April 20, 2012 @09:47AM (#39745161) Journal

    It's true for the high-end space-ready panels intended for satellites (as used on satellites). When news of that hit the climate denial blogs, every anti-environmentalist idiot out there assumed it applies to all solar panels.

"Out of register space (ugh)" -- vi

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