In recognition of the energy-efficient design and construction of Spaceport America, the New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA) received Gold status from the U.S Green Building Council (USGBC) this month. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification was awarded to the 110,000 sq.-ft. “Gateway to Space” terminal hangar building at Spaceport America, now under a 20-year lease to Virgin Galactic, the world’s first commercial spaceline.
The LEED is the USGBC’s rating system for design and construction of energy-efficient and high-performing buildings. The Virgin Galactic “Gateway to Space” building was designed by the team of Foster + Partners and URS, and was planned from the start to meet LEED Gold certification. The facility was designed and constructed to be sensitive to the environment with an organic structure created to blend into the scenic surroundings while protecting the El Camino Real National Historic Trail view shed.
Gold certification is the second highest of the LEED’s four levels of certification. The project earned this certification for green design and construction by including specialized features:
•Thermal labyrinth earth tubes under the dirt berms precondition the outside air for passive cooling and heating using a displacement ventilation system
•Passive natural lighting system optimizes daylight
•Low-e glazing on glass curtain wall reduces heat transmission and the use of external solar shading
•Under-floor radiant cooling and heating uses natural ventilation in mid-season
•100% treated wastewater for grey-water reuse
•Minimum of 95% of construction waste diverted
•Use of regional construction materials and a high percentage of recycled material where possible
“Spaceport America is a showcase for what other commercial spaceports will be like in the future,” said NMSA Executive Director Christine Anderson. “We are witnessing the ushering in of commercial space travel for everyone. We designed the Gateway building not only to be an iconic inspirational structure but also to respect the environment both in its appearance and in its energy conservation ability. This certification visibly demonstrates the State of New Mexico’s commitment to sustainable building practices and energy efficiency.”
“Earning this LEED certification was made possible by the cooperative work of many of our contractors who were the planners, architects, and construction firms,” said Rick Holdridge, NMSA Board Chairman. “We could not have done this without them.”
Virgin Galactic CEO George Whiteside said, “LEED Gold certification is an example of NMSA and Virgin Galactic’s commitment to sustainability. We are currently transitioning our team to New Mexico to make this facility our operational home base.”
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