Since it opened on Earth Day 2013, Seattle’s Bullitt Center has been more than another energy-efficient building. In fact, with its Living Building certification, it has been deemed the greenest commercial building in the world.
Located at 1501 E. Madison Street in Capitol Hill, the 52,000-square-foot space is home to a few tenants and a lot of locally sourced renewable energy. The concept was crafted by The Bullitt Foundation, a nonprofit whose programs aid the Pacific Northwest in ecology preservation efforts.
Check out why the Bullitt Center is always on trend and plans to last for at least 250 years.
Sustainable water consumption
Much like a tree in the forest, the building is able to collect rainwater and return it to the earth and atmosphere. The center only uses as much water as it collects onsite — no small feat for a six-story building with multiple tenants.
To collect enough water for daily use, rainwater is captured below the solar panels located on the roof. The rainwater journey continues down spouts and is pushed through filters that remove debris.
Finally, the rainwater is funneled into the basement where it then resides in a 56,000-gallon concrete cistern in the basement. A separate potable water tank uses ceramic filtering, ultraviolet lighting, activated charcoal and a tiny amount of chlorine to ensure all bacteria has been removed.
Waste removal and recycling
At the Bullitt Center, even the restroom is a complex system. The state-of-the-art toilets sense when someone is near a release a small does biodegradable soap in the bowl. This soap mixture contains only two tablespoons of water and allows the waste journey to occur easily.
Since the building is not hooked up to methane-producing sewer systems, the center runs on 10 different composters, each the size of a Fiat 500. After reaching the underground composters, the waste is broken down with oxygen and is then taken to a nearby location where it is ultimately converted into fertilizer.
The Bullitt Center is the tallest building to use a composting toilet system.
To be a certified Living Building, a space must generate as much electricity as it uses on site. Therefore the power of the sun plays a huge role when it comes to capturing and creating enough power for the building. The roof is made up of 575 solar panels covering 14,000 square feet.
Since Seattle doesn’t see a lot of sun during the winter months, the building uses an electrical grid as a battery to store solar power captured during the sunnier seasons.
Heat reflection and retention
For any certified Living Building, the exterior is extremely important as it responds to the environment around it. At Bullitt Center, windows and shades provide a large amount of thermal heating. Each specially designed window weighs 532 pounds and fully eliminates thermal bridging.
In the summer, the exterior window shades help disperse direct sunlight before they hit the glass and overheat the interior. When winter comes around, the external shades allow tenants to control sun glares.
Seattle’s Bullitt Center continues to lead the way in sustainable commercial building practices, garnering worldwide attention for its green features.