You've heard the hype. You've seen the mock-ups. Now the day is finally here. The Bullitt Center, the self-proclaimed "World's Greenest Commercial Building," is officially open.
So how exactly does a building make such a claim? Let's investigate...
1. It's been built to complete the Living Building Challenge. What's that entail? Basically, the building has to operate as closely to "nature's architecture" as possible. It has twelve months to meet various performance requirements, including net zero energy, waste and water. We'll have to check back in a year to see if they did it (they most certainly will).
2. It's built to resemble a forest. Seriously. Here's how the Bullitt Center's Denis Hayes described it:
It does not look at all like a douglas-fir forest but it is like a douglas-fir forest. The impact it has on this site is pretty much the same as a douglas-fir forest had on this site 200 years ago. The douglas-fir got all of its energy from the sun through photosynthesis, it gets its energy from the sun through photovoltaics. The forest supported a complex ecosystem; there's a complex ecosystem in the building. The forest got water and disposed it in the ground, this building does the same for the most part. It disposes most of its water not in the bay but in the ground.
3. Tenants will be kept on short energy leashes. Every tenant must abide by a strict annual usage budget and if they go over said budget, they will have to pay for overages. Lucky for them, there will be easy ways to monitor electric usage.
4. The staircase is irresistible. The "irresistible stairway," as Denis Hayes calls it, entices employees to take in breathtaking, panoramic views as they walk upwards to work. The elevator is located in a hard to find corner and is only accessible by key card. And you can bet someone will be monitoring how often your key card is used.
5. Parking privileges revoked. There is no parking lot attached to the Bullitt Center. There is, if course, ample space to store your bicycle while at work. Tenants are encouraged to cycle, walk or use public transportation to and from work.
6. Energy hogs will be prosecuted. Well, maybe not prosecuted, but people will be able to access real-time measurements like the building's air quality, energy consumption and water levels. It will even allow companies to monitor individual plugs to see who's using the most electricity. Goodbye, energy saver bonus.
7. Let there be light! Great care has been taken to make sure everyone gets to enjoy the sun in the Bullitt Center. Extra-high ceilings let in more daylight than usual offices and no desk is situated more than 30 feet from a window.
8. What goes in must come out (and be reused). All of the toilets in the Bullitt Center are composting toilets. While using a small amount of water, a soap solution and air compressor do most of the work, sending your business down to a composter where it mixes with wood shavings and water, causing it to decompose through the action of aerobic bacteria. So...who's hungry?
9. Don't drink the grey water. Rainwater and "grey water" from sinks will be filtered through a green roof. Also, the pervious pavement outside allows water to infiltrate into the soil, reducing the impact of runoff on Puget Sound.
10. It's solar, baby. Of course it's running on solar power. There are 575 PV panels on the roof of the Bullitt Center, all placed at a specific angle to maximize summer energy collection, when long days provide the most light.
Go find out more about the Bullitt Center at their website.