Celebrate Earth Day at the greenest office building in your neighborhood… and the world

Over the weekend, one of the finishing touches before next Monday’s Earth Day celebration of the Bullitt Center was completed as students planted the landscaping inside the overhauled McGilvra Place Park that fronts the building.


A second, western-facing solar array was originally part of the plan (Image: Design review proposal)

A second, western-facing solar array was originally part of the plan (Image: Design review proposal)

Monday’s Earth Day ceremony brings to an end an 18-month construction schedule and years of planning and politicking to make the building a reality. While the super green architecture, innovations and adherence to Living Building standards have inspired the sustainability and design world, the Bullitt’s local story includes city planning challenges, zoning restrictions and neighbors who put up a fight here and there to force compromises. The giant, photovoltaic-topped building you see standing today is a compromise on the vision. And it’s still very impressive.

A building not just green, but practically self-sustaining,” the New York Times gushed earlier this month.

Here’s what is inside — and not inside — the Bullitt:

  • Large solar array on the roof (in Seattle!) that generates as much electricity as the building uses in a year.

  • Rainwater catchment system that will supply all building needs, including drinking (pending regulatory approval).

  • More than 350 common toxic chemicals screened out of the building, including PVC, lead, mercury, phthalates, BPA and formaldehyde.

  • World’s only 6-story composting toilet system.

  • First commercial building to earn Forest Stewardship Council Project Certification in the US for use of 100% FSC-certified wood.

  • First heavy-timber commercial building in Seattle since 1920s.

CHS gave you a first look at the new building here:

The building with a roster of solar panels for energy, heat-providing geothermal wells, a giant rain cistern providing water and composting toilets has been designed to adhere to the principals of the Living Building Challenge requiring the project to meet 20 green “imperatives” and address seven “performance areas” — site, water, energy, health, materials, equity and beauty.

On this last area, the Bullitt Center has been built as a showcase. Passersby will see the ground floor activity of the University of Washington Integrated Design Lab and presentation space. A screen at the building’s west entrance will display analytics measuring the building’s energy performance. Features throughout the building will be marked with codes for self-guided tours and the bowels of the system — massive pipes and walls of meters and cables — stand behind glass walls designed for what will likely be a steady stream of visitors.

Expected at Monday’s grand opening are Governor Jay Inslee, King County Exec Dow Constantine and Mayor Mike McGinn. They’ll join Denis Hayes, Bullitt CEO and organizer of the first Earth Day in 1970, and developer Point32’s Chris Rogers in cutting the red (green?) ribbon and officially opening the building as neighbors, Hill residents, the building’s tenants and fans of sustainable design look on. UPDATE: No Constantine, we’re told.

bullitt_grandopening_email_FINAL-1024x650CHS Bullitt Coverage

8 thoughts on “Celebrate Earth Day at the greenest office building in your neighborhood… and the world

  1. They took the sky, they took the street, and now with the landscaping they’ve taken the ability to sit and relax in a public park. I’m having a very hard time seeing this project as a good neighbor.

  2. Pingback: The Greenest Building in the World | Clean Water Action Network

  3. They also have created more parking woes for the neighborhood. No parking for all the people coming and going from there who supposedly all ride bikes or take the bus? Give me a break! This is America.

  4. I’ve lived in Seattle for most of my life, and I have never once seen anyone “relaxing” in that sad little patch of walled off land – unless you count relaxing as being passed out, or using the toilet.

    You want “the sky” back? Go after those ugly TV towers a few blocks away. The absolute best improvement they could make to the neighborhood would be to get rid of those radiation emitting eyesores.

  5. They did not take anything but they are giving back nore energy to the grid than they use in a healthy building that is the cutting edge and studied for replacation and improvement. Would love to see a living building built in the CD, Union and 23rd. ?

    • Yes! Yes! Yes! As a resident of the CD/CH borderlands, I’d love such a building as a neighbor. Sad to see that some neighborhood residents seem to believe that the precise level of density and patterns of infrastructure they experienced upon arrival are what we need to maintain in perpetuity–ignoring the fact that everything they enjoy about the neighborhood was created through changes to the status quo that folks at that time were afraid of. Cities evolve, and this is a very positive evolution.

      BTW, Tim – I’m one of your growing number of neighbors who doesn’t own a car. Yes, we really exist – we’re not just a hypothetical made up by developers to get out of building expensive parking garages.