The "living roof" of the new California Academy of Sciences Museum, by Tim Griffith
The California Academy of Sciences will reopen this weekend as the greenest museum in the world. Located in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, the revamped, gargantuan CAS is an aquarium, digital planetarium, natural history museum, and four-story rain forest all rolled into one.
The U.S. Green Building Council is on course to award CAS its highest mark of sustainability, the LEED Platinum ranking. CAS is green on many levels: it’s insulated by nontoxic, second-hand blue jeans; it’s topped off with a 2.5-acre “living roof” stocked with 1.7 million native California species (which will absorb about 2 million gallons of rainwater annually); its pair of celebrity chef-led restaurants feature organic produce and local seafood; its glorious glass piazza uses an automated ventilation system to let in cool breezes from the park and refresh the building; it’s set to consume 30 percent less energy than required by federal codes; and its 60,000 photovoltaic cells will use solar power to produce between 5 and 10 percent of the museum's energy needs.