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Food & Wine

Citrus-y beers celebrate summer

Citrus-y beers celebrate summer


Derek Wolfgram/Special to the Town Crier
Session beers offer an alcohol content low enough to sustain sipping through a long, lazy picnic. Local breweries are celebrating the citrus hop style now in vogue with other fruit-forward influences.

With the h...

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Your Health

Reading in sign,  ink and song

Reading in sign, ink and song


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
A baby girl learns sign language during a program offered Wednesdays at the Los Altos Library.

Visit Los Altos Library’s community room on a Wednesday afternoon and you’ll see its plain gray expanse descend into ...

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Your Home

From derelict to desirable: House flipper transforms old properties into showstoppers

From derelict to desirable: House flipper transforms old properties into showstoppers


Megan V. WInslow/Town Crier
Amy Randazzo purchases older homes in Mountain View to “flip” after they undergo a makeover. Her transformed houses feature open floor plans and she searches for properties with “good bones.”

Amy Randazzo is improving neighb...

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On The Road

A different kind  of driving school

A different kind of driving school


Gary Anderson/Special to the Town Crier
The Andersons observe Bixby Bridge – located on Highway 1 near Big Sur – from a dirt road during their recent Land Rover Experience Driving School lesson.

It is always exciting to do something youR...

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Senior Lifestyles

Monkey business: Senior Program volunteers lift spirits of sick kids

Monkey business: Senior Program volunteers lift spirits of sick kids


Photo Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Los Altos Senior Program volunteers – affectionately known as The Monkey Toy Ladies – make sock monkeys to comfort sick children.

Last year, nearly 400 children at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital received a special ...

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Wedding To Remember

The Veils of Time

The Veils of Time


Courtesy of Los Altos History Museum

For a new spin on the Town Crier’s “Peek into the Past,” the Los Altos History Museum has been gathering historical local wedding photos and the stories behind them.

Frances Elizabeth Shoup, second...

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Your Kids

Back to School

Is Early Decision the right choice for your student?

Is Early Decision the right choice for your student?


Courtesy of Hollis Bischoff
This chart compares the rate of Early Decision acceptances with the overall acceptance rate at various colleges.

As students apply to an ever-increasing list of schools, colleges are challenged to predict accurately whether ...

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NASA incorporates space technology in new energy-efficient buildings

The GSA’s innovation award recognizes ideas that have potential to transform the federal community’s overall energy and environmental performance,

The new building, part of NASA’s Renovation by Replacement program, will provide office space for approximately 225 civil servants, according to Steve Zornetzer, NASA Ames associate director. The project replaces 75,000 square feet of antiquated office space in several small buildings and the wind tunnel, which have been demolished.

From the cement and steel exterior to the indoor carpeting, all construction components used for the Sustainability Base are recyclable and nontoxic.

“This is very important to us – everything in this building is recyclable,” Zornetzer said.

Technology systems include photovoltaic roofs for power generation, geothermal wells for cooling and heating, optimized natural lighting and operable glazed floor-to-ceiling windows.

The two-story, two-winged building’s curved design conforms to the research park’s circular perimeter.

“The design and position of the building allows maximum exposure of the roof to the sun to optimize sunlight,” Zornetzer said. “The electric (systems) will produce more energy than the building consumes.”

Not only is the building designed to consume less energy, but the roof’s solar system will provide 30-40 percent of what the building needs, and a second generation of solid-oxide-hydrogen fuel cells called Bloom Boxes, produced by Sunnyvale-based Bloom Energy, will be site tested. Zornetzer said he expects the cells to put Ames’ power grid over the top.

“They produce much higher energy and they’re more compact,” he said. “That fuel cell will produce twice as much energy as the building needs.”

But from NASA’s space technology itself comes the systems that will purify greywater and the software components and modules that control Sustainability Base’s intelligent adaptive control system, which senses all workers’ needs, including cooling, lighting and heat for maximum efficiency.

“It responds to individual occupants,” Zornetzer said of the system’s intelligence. “It learns from its performance and it learns to improve its decision-making.”

Not only can the system predict tomorrow’s weather and adjust the building’s temperature controls that include remotely operated window shades, but the system can also regulate a room’s temperature knowing that 15 people are scheduled there for a conference at 10 a.m., Zornetzer said.

In addition to a 6,000-gallon underground tank that will collect rainwater for irrigation, Sustainability Base will have a water-purifying system originally developed for the International Space Station. Zornetzer said the expanded system diverts shower and sink runoff from entering the Bay to use for outside irrigation.

“We’ve planted native plants that don’t require a lot of watering,” he said. “But when we do need to irrigate, we will be using the greywater rather than wasting drinking and potable water.”

Sustainability Base is also a candidate for platinum-certified status from Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, but the project could have gone in an entirely different direction when NASA initially approved a different building design.

“Once we started (working) with the design, I decided the original design was not what we should be doing,” Zornetzer said.

Zornetzer contacted William McDonough, who authored Cradle to Cradle guidelines, a multiattribute eco-label that assesses a product’s safety to humans and the environment and design for future life cycles.

“He’s a tremendous champion of sustainable design,” Zornetzer said.

And with workers set to occupy Sustainable Base in September and a dedication ceremony tentatively scheduled for November, all systems are a go for testing.

“So far, so good,” Zornetzer said.

For more information, visit www.arc.nasa.gov.

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