A green roof, butterflies, and high-tech solar cells
by Corinne Melville -- March 7th, 2010
The clean energy field trip’s first stop – the California Academy of Sciences
It is good to be in California! The group, or at least most of the group, met at the San Francisco airport at 1:30 this afternoon. Many of us were on flights at 6am this morning… Eastern time. Suffice to say, we were a little bleary eyed as we stepped out into the sun.
However, that euphoric feeling that corresponds with the end of a long week of midterms and deadlines has been enough to carry us through so far. That, and a cool museum. Our first stop after the airport was the California Academy of Sciences. Armed with new-found knowledge of the Academy and green-building from presentations by Andrew Dietrich and Jackson Naftel, we set out to explore one of the most interesting museums in the country.
The California Academy of Sciences is the largest public building in the world to have achieved Leed Platinum certification. The roof, shown above is covered with 2.5 acres of vegetation. This living roof not only cools and insulates the building, but also soaks up 98% of rain water.
Inside of the museum are numerous entertaining and educational exhibits. We saw tropical fish, a mischievous octopus that climbs into the neighboring tank at night and eats crabs, an albino crocodile, and an enclosed rainforest to name a few.
There was also a cool interactive exhibit containing information on the effects of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions on the climate system. Our favorite suggestion for curbing climate change was beer powered bicycles!
After just enough time to drop our bags in the room, we reconvened for a tasty Mexican dinner. The enchiladas and margaritas were a perfect end to a great first day of the trip. The plan is to catch up on sleep, and hit the road again tomorrow to visit NextEra Energy Resources, a wholesale power generation corporation, and a Geothermal site visit.