SAN DIEGO - The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s newest creation, ‘The La Jolla Laboratory Replacement Project’ is a newly built 240k sq. ft. research facility. NOAA, a federal agency of the United States Department of Commerce built the laboratory for the Southwest Fisheries Science Center.
SWFSC now houses a one of a kind large-scale controlled environment Ocean Technology Development Tank. It is the only large sea and fresh water test tank in the world with thermohaline control. At 10 meters wide, 20 m long and 10 m deep it has the capacity to hold 2,000,000 liters or 500,000 gallons of water. It has a flow thru system that pumps water up from La Jolla’s Scripps Pier up to the lab and holding tank. Water is conditioned and re-circulated back out into the ocean with the complete cycle of exchange done in 12 hours. The tank is a controlled environment that can be turned from salt to fresh water which can control water conditions over a broad range of temperatures and salinities. The water is conditioned using a combination of ultra violet radiation, sand filters and ozone degrassing units. The continued development of these advanced technologies will allow NOAA to conduct its research more efficiently in terms of time and cost. Research will also be less invasive to marine animals and their habitat.
A program document was designed as a carbon footprint or bible between NOAA’s research scientist and the architects. Taking a little over three years to create, the program document allows architects and research scientist to communicate together to come up with a state of the art laboratory based on hands on experience. If scientist had a question about paticulars it was addressed and assesed by the architects design team to make a safer, easier work-station. Following an integrated sustainable design process the team identified sustainability-related goals and priorities in terms of building and environmental performance and life cycle cost.
The new building is located on campus of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) at the University of California San Diego adjacent to the old SWFSC headquarters. The land used for the new facility was exchanged for the new property across the street where three of the four buildings will be torn down by September of 2013 with the remaining structure being remodeled for science and research at SIO. NOAA is pursuing a LEED Certification on the new facility which is on target to join a small handful of other LEED Gold certified buildings in San Diego.
The LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) energy model shows that the building is projected to have a 25% reduction in overall energy use. Roof-top photovoltaic power provides a 7% reduction annually in the amount of electricity needed from the public power grid. That is enough energy to power over 40 houses which lightens the load on an already peaked out electrical energy system that is high in demand with San Onofre Power Plant out of commission. Cooling energy use is 69% less than the ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating & Air Conditioning Engineers) 90.1-2004 standard. This means the project meets the federal requirement for new buildings under the U.S. Energy Policy Act of 2005 thus saving 28% annual operating cost, estimating a savings of $119,000 a year.
To supplement a potential deficiency of water during long periods without rainfall, the green roofs of the laboratory were installed with an automatic irrigation system. Designed and constructed in order to maximize energy savings and to reduce the velocity of storm water flow all non-native plants such as the eucalyptus trees that were in the 3.04 acre area were removed and the green-rooftops of the building were vegetated with natural California coastal shrubs such as native chaparral and Torrey Pines. The plants naturally filter out particulate matter allowing sediment to settle out before runoff is discharged into the underground storage tank using a series of vegetated swales or depressions. These swales collect the runoff which is then slowly released back into the city’s storm water system. Assistant Center Director Roger Hewitt, PhD says, “Within days of the green roofs being planted it provided a new habitat for bees and hummingbirds”.