The Bullitt Centre: A Green American Icon

bullitt center

A brand new green building project is set to become one of the world’s most sustainable commercial office builds not for the new and innovative technology it has implemented but for the unique approach to green building the developers have taken.

Designed by Miller Hull Partnership with green measures overseen by sustainability advocacy organisation the Bullitt Foundation, the new Bullitt Centre in Seattle may well become an American icon for the building industry.

The building’s sustainable nature will ensure everything runs symbiotically and has been shaped around the guidance of the Living Building Challenge, an approach that aims to go beyond LEED and other performance standard measures for projects within the built arena.

Across 50,000 square feet of space, the six-storey building will become the first in the US get to utilise all of its water supplies from its rainwater harvesting system. A cistern has been implemented to hold 56,000 gallons of water, providing ample supply for the building’s users, who are expected to consume 500 gallons a day.

bullitt center

Due to various pieces of legislation surrounding the use of rainwater harvesting systems in Seattle, the Bullitt Foundation has had to set up its own water district, independent of the city’s own. This has enabled systems to provide a high level of water reuse and can be seen as a response to the increasing numbers of droughts across America.

Until two years ago, the development and use of a rainwater harvesting system was illegal in Washington state. By setting up its own water district the Bullitt Foundation was able to move past this and potentially provide a benchmark for the industry.

The Bullitt Centre’s energy will be derived completely from solar sources. With Seattle getting consistent levels of sunshine, this can become a vital resource for the Bullitt Centre and future commercial buildings could easily follow suit.

Natural light will be prevalent throughout the building and indoor composting toilets have been implemented. Heating is generated through a system of geothermal walls and the structure is framed with FSC-certified wood.

To adhere to the standards of the Living Building Challenge, the Bullitt Foundation avoided using any ‘red listed’ materials deemed unsuitable for the built environment. This meant the developers worked very closely with all suppliers to ensure the materials used contained no polyvinyl chloride or phthalates.

Seattle City Council has recently passed two pieces of legislation to allow buildings to be developed beyond the city’s current restrictive design and building standards. The first will see a pilot project that creates entirely self-sustaining buildings in the city. This will allow 12 unique ‘living buildings’ to be constructed in Seattle over the next three years.

The other piece of legislation is set to improve future building design by enhancing affordability, construction type, landscaping and environmental standards.

By Jemilla Russell-Clough
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