Bullitt Center – World’s Greenest Building


October 5, 2015 by John Crapper

Something happened pretty cool in Seattle the other day. Washington State residents can take pride in this marvelous achievement. Let’s hope it spurs a rethinking of architectural design and urban living.

April 1, 2015, the Bullitt Center proved its status as the greenest commercial building in the world by becoming the first office building to earn Living Building certification, the most challenging benchmark of sustainability in the built environment.

To be certified as a Living Building a structure is required to be self-sufficient in energy and water for 12 consecutive months and meet green building standards in terms of design and materials used.

During 2014 the center produced 60% more energy than it used making it the most energy efficient office building in the U.S. and possibly the world. Congratulations.

The process to achieve this award was rigorous and challenging.

The Living Building Challenge requires a project to meet 20 specific imperatives within seven performance areas (or “Petals”). For the Bullitt Center, meeting the imperatives will include the following:

Site: The location will support a pedestrian-, bicycle-, and transit-friendly lifestyle.

Water: Rainwater will be collected on the roof, stored in an underground cistern and used throughout the building.

Energy: A solar array will generate as much electricity as the building uses.

Health: The building will promote health for its occupants, with inviting stairways, operable windows and features to promote walking and resource sharing.

Materials: The building will not contain any “Red List” hazardous materials, including PVC, cadmium, lead, mercury and hormone-mimicking substances, all of which are commonly found in building components.

Equity: All workstations are within 30 feet of large operable windows, offering all workers access to fresh air and natural daylight.

Beauty: Stunning architecture, an innovative photovoltaic array, a green roof and other native plantings, large structural timbers and a revitalized pocket park help beautify the surrounding neighborhood.

Projects in 12 countries are registered in the Living Building Challenge and six other projects have been certified to date, including McGilvra Place Park, a public space immediately adjacent to the Bullitt Center. McGilvra Place is the first “Living Park” to meet the Landscape Typology requirements of the Challenge.

“We made a huge, bold bet that human creativity could overcome dozens of unprecedented challenges,” said Denis Hayes, CEO of the Bullitt Foundation and the Bullitt Center. “If Living Buildings can be built and operated in Seattle, the cloudiest major city in the contiguous 48 states, they can and should be built everywhere.”

If you are interested in taking a tour of this remarkable building you can do so here. I’ve yet to do so myself but plan to in the very near future.

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