April 12 2013

Self-Sufficient Building: The Design of the Bullitt Center

Bullitt Center, Seattle WA

Bullitt Center, Seattle WA

If it wasn’t for the iconic photovoltaic array delicately hovering over the building for all to see, you might not know the Bullitt Center is a “green” building. While this (almost completed) six-story, 50,000 square foot office building is nestled comfortably within the neighborhood of Capitol Hill in Seattle, Washington, it is anticipated to become a new precedent for self-sufficient commercial buildings.

The Bullitt Center intends to pass the “Living Building Challenge,” a certification by the International Living Future Institute that assesses building performance after the first year of occupancy to ensure that a building is self-sufficient. For a building to be certified as a “living building” it must perform much like an organic system: generating as much energy as it uses, producing no waste, and being water-efficient.

Bullitt Center, Seattle WA

Bullitt Center, Seattle WA

To meet the requirements outlined in the seven performance areas of the Living Building Challenge, the following strategies are used in the Bullitt Center:

1. Site

The location is transit-served and bicycle friendly;

2. Water

Rainwater is collected and stored in an underground cistern. All wastewater is treated onsite;

3. Energy

Photovoltaic arrays on the roof will generate as much electricity as the building uses;

4. Health

The glass-enclosed stairway facing the street is intended to entice people to take the stairs rather than the elevator;

5. Materials

There are no “Red List” hazardous materials, such as lead, PVC, and mercury (all of which are normally found in building components);

6. Equity

Every worker has access to fresh air and daylight. The workspaces are placed on the perimeter of the building to allow natural daylight and fresh air (through operable windows). Enclosed spaces where daylight is less of a concern (such as copy rooms, bathrooms, and conference rooms) are located in the core of the building;

7. Beauty

In addition to the architecture, the project reinvigorates the streetscape by revitalizing the neighboring pocket park.

Bullitt Center, Seattle WA

Bullitt Center, Seattle WA

Projects such as the Bullitt Center intend to make it easier to buy “off the shelf” green products. Do you think buildings like this one will promote the implementation of green building technologies?

Credits: Photographs by Amanda Bosse. Data linked to sources.

Amanda Bosse

Amanda Bosse is a former writer for the GRID. At the time she was writing, she was in the Master of Architecture program at the University of Washington. Growing up in the Midwest, she became interested in the dialogue between the individual structures and the urban fabric (including those structures not typically designed by architects). With a background in both architecture and urban design, Amanda was primarily interested in applying architectural thinking to solve larger scale design problems.

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This entry was posted on Friday, April 12th, 2013 at 9:10 am and is filed under Architecture. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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