The greenest office building in the world

Forget LEED certification, the standard for green building, the folks behind this six-story building, the Bullitt Foundation, are going well beyond. The Bullitt Center, located in the popular neighborhood of Capitol Hill, Seattle will be the world’s greenest office building, meeting the Living Building Challenge.

The Living Building Challenge Living is a certification program comprised of seven performance areas: site, water, energy, health, materials, equity and beauty, further subdivided into a total of twenty imperatives (see below) that go beyond LEED, such as car free living, net zero water, net zero energy, and human scaling. Download the standard here. The Bullitt Foundation’s mission is “to safeguard the natural environment by promoting responsible human activities and sustainable communities in the Pacific Northwest”, and they worked with the City of Seattle to develop new green building codes through a demonstration ordinance.

Because of the unprecedented use of building and material technology involved, upfront costs for the $30 million 52,000 s.f. building were a third higher than normal construction costs. However, the foundation states that rents will be comparable to those for other newly constructed, LEED-certified buildings in the area, and it eventually expects a positive return on investment.

Some key notes:
– Expected to use less than one-fourth the energy of a typical building its size.
– No parking spaces, only bike racks.
– Uses zero net energy and no toxic materials, requires no water except the rain, nets zero waste, and is designed to last at least 250 years.
– Powered entirely by solar panels, even in cloudy Seattle, and heated naturally through geothermal wells.
– It’s the first office building in the U.S. to use only harvested rainwater, with a cistern holding up to 56,000 gallons to supply water even through a 100-day drought.
– Uses FSC-certified wood, and avoids hazardous materials like PVC, cadmium, lead, and mercury.
– Includes composting toilets, a green roof, and natural lighting.

Unlike many LEED-certified buildings, this one looks like it actually belongs in the neighborhood. And an inspiring member at that.

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