​Bullitt Center Opens For Business

Staff Reporter
Aug. 8, 2014

Bullitt Center Opens - An edgy neighborhood overlooking downtown Seattle open the first Bullitt Foundation building as the world’s greenest office building. It’s the new frontier in today’s urban landscaping that could return the original level of natural efficiency.

“We’re taking a piece of land that was a ramshackle bar, and we’re turning it into something that has characteristics of the Douglas fir forest that was there before. It is a building that is in complete balance with nature.” says foundation president Denis Hayes.

Hayes is known for coordinating the first Earth Day in 1970, and it only makes sense that the grand opening for the Bullitt Center will be held today.

“The foundation decided that we really wanted to walk our talk,” Hayes says. “We’ve been preaching this stuff for the last two decades. Now we’re going to show that not only that it can be done, but that we will do it.”

After breaking ground a year and a half ago, the building is nearing completion and tenants have begun to move into what is expected to be the largest structure to qualify for the Living Building Challenge, the world’s most rigorous standard in sustainable building.

Unlike other green buildings, Living Buildings must prove themselves for a full year. They can’t contribute any waste to the environment. They can only use as much water as they can collect. And they must only be powered by as much energy as they can generate.

In addition, all the heavy building materials like concrete and steel must come from within 300 miles of the site. And none of the building products can contain any of the red-listed 362 toxic chemicals that are commonly used in construction materials.

It was Joe David’s job to screen all the materials. Today David can walk through the building and point to any material — the concrete, the glass, the building’s protective coating — and explain where it came from and what toxic materials it normally would contain and the lengths they went through to remove them.

“It was surprising how often you’d come across a product that may have some toxic component, but it was still being used because it was industry standard,” says David, who works for the building developer Point 32.

Much of the internal structure of the building is made of heavy timber because in the Pacific Northwest, timber is an abundant renewable resource. And every single piece of wood in the structure was sustainably harvested, making the Bullitt Center the first commercial building in the United States to earn the Forest Stewardship Council’s certification for using 100 percent FSC-certified wood.

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