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'World's greenest office building' now open

Posting in Architecture

There are only three buildings that meet the Living Building Challenge standards -- the most rigorous green building standards. But none are quite like Seattle's new Bullitt Center, which is in the process of being certified as a Living Building.

The 50,000-square-foot, six-story building, which opened earlier this week, is dubbed the "world's greenest office building." Even more impressive, though, is that it's built in the middle of Seattle's popular Capitol Hill neighborhood, in a city where the code initially held back green buildings. Others that met certification are in rural areas.

So what exactly sets this building apart from other green buildings? It's essentially self-sustaining: generating all of it's own electricity on-site, supplying and treating all of its water (thanks to a 50,000-gallon underground stormwater cistern), and managing its own waste (yes, that means composting toilets), as SmartPlanet reported back in 2011. In addition, toxic materials can't be used and the building is built to last 250 years (no pressure, architects).

And the plan isn't to be an ivory tower of sustainability. As Arch Daily points out:

The environmentally-conscious Bullitt Foundation hopes that the new center will demonstrate that carbon-neutral office space can be “commercially viable and aesthetically stunning,” a series of systems that can be easily copied elsewhere without being overly demanding in upkeep. ...

Perhaps the coolest thing about this collection of innovative systems is that they will all be visible. The mechanical and electrical rooms of the Bullitt Center will have large glass windows that display the state-of-the-art engineering, where tourists can scan quick response codes with a smartphone to learn about individual elements. In addition, a kiosk will be set up to let visitors know real-time measurements of the building’s indoor air quality, energy consumption, photovoltaic power production and water levels.

A model that shows truly sustainable buildings can be scaled up, for a price. In this case, $30 million. Here's a good, in-depth look at the building from Earth Fix:

Here are more specs from the design team.

The ‘World’s Greenest Commercial Building’ Opens in Seattle [Arch Daily]

— By on April 23, 2013, 9:00 PM PST

Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk is a freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure