Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and other tech companies love to highlight their projects meant to conserve energy or implement renewable energy sources. One reason is that the data centers they rely upon can be notorious energy hogs if not built right.
The search giant’s latest foray is taking place at NASA’s Moffett Field, where it is building a new office complex that will rely geothermal heat pumps for heating and air conditioning. In 2014, Google leased part of NASA’s legendary air field for $1.16 billion (for 60 years) to house this new office, just a few miles away from the company’s Googleplex headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. The building is slated for completion in late 2019, according to a Google spokesperson.
As Eric Solrain, a principal with Integral Group, an engineering company working with Google (GOOG), told Fast Company:
In the wintertime, when we need to heat the buildings, we’re actually absorbing that heat from the ground, and then in the summertime, when we are cooling the buildings, we’re actually rejecting heat to the ground and warming the ground.
At a very basic level, heat pumps work by collecting and transferring ambient heat to where it’s needed without needing to burn fuel to create heat in the first place.
The efficient heat pump is part of the company’s grand plan to earn a coveted LEED Platinum certification. Such a designation from the U.S. Green Building Council is a badge of honor that shows the building in question was is built with healthy, renewable materials and uses sustainable energy. Apple (AAPL) CEO Tim Cook has said his company’s new spaceship-esque headquarters, now known as Apple Park, in Cupertino, Calif. will be the world’s greenest building, although its LEED designation is still pending.
At its new site, Google tells the magazine that it will also collect and treat storm water for re-use and will install automatic self-shading windows to keep the building cooler on bright days, then reducing light pollution at night.
Google could not be reached for further comment.
Note: (October 25 2017 5:15 a.m. EDT): This story was updated with the building’s completion date and photos.