Two new federal buildings will take some government offices off the grid: The Energy Department and NASA are each constructing net-zero office buildings that will consume only as much power as they produce. "I really see this as a prototype of a 21st-century building," said Steve Zornetzer, associate director of NASA's Ames Research Center outside San Jose, Calif. The buildings rely mostly on low-tech, low-cost solutions. NASA's per-square-foot costs are expected to be about $460.

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