Google’s new headquarters uses ‘Dragonscale’ solar panels to capture sunlight from all angles

By Iwan Baan/Google

A new Google campus in California is meeting its goal of running on green energy 90% of the time, in part by powering its building with “dragon skin”-inspired solar panels.

The Bay View campus in Mountain View opened this month to employees on 42 acres in Silicon Valley.

Designed by architects from Bjarke Ingels Group and Heatherwick Studio, and Google’s design and engineering teams, two sun-drenched office buildings occupy 1.1 million square feet covered by 90,000 silver solar panels.

“This is the first time we have designed and developed one of our large campuses, which has allowed us to rethink the very idea of ​​an office and what is possible for the construction industry,” said company on his blog. “The result is a collection of buildings that show what is possible when it comes to designing sustainable, human-centered workplaces.”

To help deliver on its commitment to run every hour of every day on carbon-free energy by 2030, the “first-of-its-kind dragonscale solar skin,” along with nearby wind farms, will power the carbon-free campus. energy 90% of the time.

The Dragonscale Roof has the ability to generate nearly 7 megawatts of power.

By Iwan Baan/Google

“The prismatic nature of the glass ‘traps’ light that would normally escape from traditional flat solar panels and reduces reflected glare which can be a problem for drivers and pilots,” says Asim Tahir, Google District & Renewable Energy Lead.

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Elsewhere, an integrated system of geothermal piles (the largest in North America) is expected to reduce carbon emissions by around 50% and will help both heat and cool the campus. The massive geothermal field is integrated into the structural system, reducing the amount of water typically used for cooling by 90%, or five million gallons of water per year.

“Bay View is 100% electric where even the kitchens are electric to reduce carbon emissions,” says the tech giant.

By Iwan Baan / Courtesy of Google

Google says the interiors of the buildings re-emphasized their vision for the future of work. It was designed to balance Googlers’ desire to come together as a team with the need for a quiet environment that allows for in-depth work.

The campus incorporates biophilic design principles, including greenery, natural daylight, and exterior views from every office to improve the health and well-being of those inside the building. Clerestory windows modulate direct light onto the offices with automated blinds that open and close during the day.

The ventilation system uses 100% outside air. This means that the air flows in one direction, so there is no recirculated air, which is much healthier for the occupants.

To eliminate toxins and create the healthiest environment possible, the project team examined thousands of building products and materials – everything from carpet tiles, paints, piping, plywood and furniture, was assessed using the Living Building Challenge (LBC) Red List as a framework.

To help meet its commitment to replenish 120% of the water it uses by 2030, the site is net positive water, with all non-potable water demands being met using recycled water that it generates in place.

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A series of above-ground ponds collect rainwater, combined with a building wastewater treatment system, together serve as a water source for cooling towers, toilet flushing and landscape irrigation .

By Iwan Baan – Courtesy of Google

The campus includes 7.3 acres of high-value natural areas, including wet meadows, woodlands and marshes, which contribute to Google’s broader efforts to restore missing critical habitat in the Bay Area.

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Sustainability at the Bay View campus is set to achieve LEED-NC v4 Platinum certification and become the largest facility ever to achieve LBC Water Petal certification from the International Living Future Institute.

Local residents can also benefit from the opening of the Bay View campus, including public access to expanded trails with panoramic views of the bay, improved bike connections to Stevens Creek and Bay trails, and new bike paths with the widening of RT Jones Road.

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