Tuesday, September 17, 2013

living building

seattle's bullitt center is considered a living building - it is a 6 story, 50,000 square feet structure utilizing never before seen sustainability solutions. it is a showpiece of the bullitt foundation - a seattle-based sustainability advocacy group. the goal of the bullitt center is "to change the way buildings are designed, built, and operated to improve long-term environmental performance and promote broader implementation of energy efficiency, renewable energy and other green technologies in the northwest." it is a beacon for us all:

"The most unique feature of the Bullitt Center is that it’s trying to do everything simultaneously," says Bullitt Foundation President Denis Hayes. "Everything" includes 100% onsite energy use from solar panels, all water provided by harvested rainwater, natural lighting, indoor composting toilets, a system of geothermal wells for heating, and a wood-framed structure (made out of FSC-certified wood).

most notably, it is built without using any red-listed materials (material deemed harmful by the living building challenge). fast company describes the challenges of doing that:

The building materials industry is notoriously opaque, so Bullitt often had to call companies directly to ensure that their products didn’t contain, say, pthalates or polyvinyl chloride (PVC)." In the end, we were making some acts of faith that people are not lying," says Hayes. "We did the very best job that we could, and we are reasonably confident that it’s the very best job anyone has done today."

Bullitt even convinced Prosoco, a company that makes water sealants that are sprayed on the outside of buildings, to create a new formulation of its product that doesn’t contain pthalates--or cost any more than the old version. Sometimes, it seems, all you have to do is ask. In order to make it easier for other buildings to follow suit, Bullitt plans to publish its findings online.

The foundation also made it easier for other buildings on the West Coast to get high-performing windows from Schueco, a German company. "We got the manufacturer to make windows with wonderful performance characteristics, and a local company got an exclusive license to make them for the West Coast," says Hayes. Now that manufacturer has multiple orders for the windows in the region.

tenants began moving into the building in january 2013. for more information or to contact the bullitt foundation, see: bullitt.org

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