The Bullitt Center Seattle: The World’s Greenest Building

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The Bullitt Center Seattle

In today’s day and age, more and more people are concerned about the impact of their actions on the environment. The focus on going green is reflected in the field of architecture. In recent years, many structures have been built with energy efficiency in mind,  to prioritize sustainability. A perfect example of such efforts would be the Bullitt Center in Seattle, which is considered to be one of the greenest office buildings in the world This green building has set an architectural standard, which has prompted new ideas in the fields of construction and sustainability.

The Birth of a Green Structure

The idea behind the building stemmed from the president of the Bullitt Foundation, Denis Hayes, who also happens to be the co-founder of the first Earth Day. The building is used as headquarters for an organization advocating environmental sustainability, in addition to being leased out to other tenants. The project managers had a specific goal in mind, which is to provide carbon-neutral office spaces that are commercially viable and visually appealing. It was named as the world's most sustainable building by the World Architecture News, which strengthens its reputation when it comes to sustainability and energy efficiency.

Features of the Bullitt Center

In a nutshell, the building meets the net zero energy standard and energy needs are supplied on site. The Bullitt Center exclusively uses energy efficient structures, equipment, and systems. These include air tight construction, triple-paned windows, and advanced insulation. In addition, energy efficient lighting, digital lighting/ power controls, and high-performance appliances and HVAC are used. 

The Center has operable windows that are designed to maximize the use of natural daylight and minimize glare. The Bullitt Center is 6 stories tall and overall gets all of its electricity and heating (HVAC power) from renewable energy, mostly rooftop solar pv panels. It also remains the biggest building in the world to pass the Living Building Challenge.

The Bullitt Center has a total of six floors and spans almost 50,000 square feet. With a budget of almost $30 million, it has also been recognized and dubbed by many as a living laboratory. One of its best features is the composting toilet. Human sewage is taken offsite to a facility where the material is heated to almost 200°F and an anaerobic digestion system converts it to fertilizer.

Another commendable feature of this green building is its revolutionary rain collection system. It has a 56,000-gallon capacity tank that is able to collect rainwater, have it filtered, disinfected, and recycled. There are also photovoltaic panels installed on the rooftop, which produce over 230,000 kwh a year to supply the energy needed for to power the building. Aside from renewable energy, another thing commendable about the building is the promotion of the use of bikes. There a bike garage as an alternative to the usual parking. 

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Sustainability Trends

Ideas for a Greener Home

  • Reduce, reuse, recycle
  • Use eco-friendly cleaning supplies
  • Favor cloth over paper products
  • Chlorine-free baby diapers/ wipes
  • Choose natural lawn care - stop using pesticides and synthetic fertilizers
  • Use biodegradable detergent and oxygen bleach
  • For clean, safe drinking water without all of the waste - use a water filter and a reusable bottle
  • Install low-flow toilets

Energy Saving Ideas

  • Use CFL or LED light bulbs
  • Use Energy Star labeled equipment
  • Turn off all home and office equipment when not in use
  • Turn off lights when not in use
  • Turn down the thermostat - lowering it by just one degree can reduce heating energy costs significantly
  • Avoid phantom loads (electrical equipment that still uses energy even after turned off) by using a power strip
  • Reduce your water heater temperature from 140 degrees to 120 degrees
  • Install double pane windows