Bullitt Center

SUMMARY: The six-story, 50,000 square foot Bullitt Center opens a window into the future by showing how healthy, comfortable, ultra-efficient and sustainable an urban office building can be. It produces more energy from rooftop solar than it uses; meets its water needs from rain; creates no municipal sewage; and is toxic-free.

PROBLEM SPACE: Buildings account for 40 percent of carbon dioxide emissions, 65 percent of solid waste and 70 percent of electricity use in the United States. The Bullitt Center uses only carbon-free energy; employs a huge volume of carbon-sequestering, structural wood; aggressively recycles and composts; and uses only one-third the electricity of a LEED Platinum building.

Common construction materials contain hundreds of toxic ingredients. The Bullitt Center contains none.

Tenants typically work without access to fresh air and natural daylight. Indoor air quality in many buildings is so poor that the World Health Organization recognizes sick building syndrome as a serious health menace. The Center maintains superb indoor air quality.

Most buildings draw upon distant sources for energy and water. The Bullitt Center meets it needs for both on site.

Contributing to the poor quality of our built environment is a system of outdated policies, codes, regulations and incentives. The Bullitt Center worked closely with the City of Seattle to pass novel new ordinances that remove these barriers.

Building owners, tenants, and utilities are often thwarted in their quest for efficiency by split incentives. The Bullitt Center negotiated a paradigm-busting new approach with the local utility that aligns all these interests.

SOLUTION: Given the dire, multilateral challenges facing humanity (climate disruption, global epidemic of extinction, ubiquitous toxics, freshwater shortages, deforestation, etc.) the Bullitt Center was created to accelerate the trend toward ultra-green buildings as an important element of an integrated solution. A 50,000 square foot office building on the major east-west street in Seattle, the Bullitt Center has an EUI of 8.4, making it the most energy-efficient office building in the world. It is the first, six-story, urban infill building in the United States to:

– Produce more energy than it consumes (from on-site solar panels in the cloudiest city in the contiguous 48 states).

– Use rain to meet all its water needs.

– Infiltrate all treated gray water into the ground on site.

– Eliminate 362 toxic and endocrine-disrupting chemicals from its construction materials.

– Employ only composting toilets

A market-rate office for multiple tenants, the Center was designed to last 250 years, reward energy-saving behavior, encourage healthy lifestyles, and demonstrate that high performance green building is economically feasible.

Skeptics who thought the Center’s goals were impossible have now been convinced. If something exists, it is obviously possibble. Now our challenge is to get it widely replicated and ultimately surpassed.

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