Academy of Sciences Museum Finally Opens in San Francisco

September 26, 2008

It sounds like a war effort or some great new candy bar, but it has been ten years in the making. Yes, the Academy of Sciences museum finally opens in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. We’re totally jazzed to have this Green building icon finally opening up, with some of the old exhibits, the completely updated planetarium and the sustainably based dining options by Charles Phan and Loretta Keller. While most of the advance crowd marveled at the Africa Hall, the various fish aquariums, even the albino crocodile, we turned our attention to the building itself. Yes, a LEED Platinum structure that supposedly marks the largest LEED Platinum building in the U.S. With a building so large, we decided to get cute (or maybe efficient) and do an outside and inside post. And because humans spend 90 percent of their lives indoors, we’ll start outside for a change. Well, actually upside.

Look up in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane no it’s a living roof. Not just a Green roof with scattered plants but one covered with 1.7 million native plants. Architect Renzo Piano designed the roof as an homage to the hills of SF. Even more creative is how the plants keep from slip sliding off the hills. Rana Creek worked with Piano to use 50,000 porous, biodegradable trays (called a BioTray®), that they made from tree sap and coconut husks as containers for the vegetation to keep the little green guys in place.

In addition to the natural habitat created by the roof, the roof reduces the Urban Heat Island effect and reduces the building’s temperature by an average of 10 degrees versus a nasty old standard roof. Additionally, the roof’s cistern system will captures 90-98 percent rainwater, with 3.5 million gallons of rainwater per year expected to be absorbed by the roof.

With all the time we spent outside the museum it’s a wonder we didn’t get sunburned. But of course we used sustainably concocted sunscreen. Next museum post, we’ll take a green look at the interior.