Located at Pier 15 on San Francisco Bay, the Exploratorium is en route to becoming one of the first and largest zero net energy museums in the world. With 330,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space, the award-winning waterfront museum is itself a dynamic exhibit and living experiment in green building and sustainability. As with all Exploratorium exhibits, we invite you to join and participate in our journey.
1. Green Building & Design
From the initial decision to preserve and renovate the historic building at Pier 15 using recycled materials, the Exploratorium’s building and design reflect our commitment to sustainability. In 2013, the San Francisco Chronicle called us “the ultimate green building,” and in 2014 we received LEED Platinum certification from the US Green Building Council.
2. Zero Net Energy Efficiency
There are many complex definitions of zero net energy. Ours is simple: over the course of one year, we aim to produce as much energy as we consume. Our 80,000-square-foot rooftop is covered with photovoltaic solar panels that generate an average of 2,000 MWh of renewable energy each year. Through the combination of solar energy, energy-efficient building systems, and ample natural light, we produced 76% of our energy needs on site in 2018.
3. Baywater Heating and Cooling System
Not only is the Exploratorium designed with the intention of being zero net energy, it's also low-carbon because it's designed to use no natural gas. By using Bay water for geothermal exchange, our heating and cooling system controls the building’s temperature without the need for a cooling tower or boiler. This saves over two million gallons of potable water a year.
4. Sustainability Education
The Exploratorium's Fisher Bay Observatory and Living Systems galleries encourage visitors to investigate the history, geography, and ecosystems of the Bay Area. Our building is fitted with sensors that help scientists better understand the impact of climate change in urban settings, and provides a venue for critical conversations about the environment.
From opportunities to engage with environmental exhibits and to breathe 100% outside air, to the use of dual-flush toilets using harvested rainwater, visitors can experience our sustainable building and its operations first-hand.
Located at the edge of downtown with ample access to public transportation, even the journey to the Exploratorium is a step forward in reducing our carbon footprint. Our partnership with BART that gives free access to thousands of students each year means that even more people are able to explore our sustainable building practices. We invite you to walk, bike, or bus to our location on Pier 15, and see for yourself.