Bullitt Center Certified As Living Building

Bullitt Center Certified As Living Building
Courtesy Photo The Bullitt Center’s certification as a Living Building sets a precedence for more green initiatives.

Courtesy Photo
The Bullitt Center’s certification as a Living Building sets a precedence for more green initiatives.

Denis Hayes, the founder of Earth Day, is one of my heroes and is the president of the Bullitt Foundation. His latest creation, The Bullitt Center, in Seattle, Wash., is a reflection of his love for the environment and wildlife. Hayes is a role model to those who choose to think big.

The Bullitt Center is an example of redesigning the urban infrastructure to align with natural processes. It stands perched to triumph in The Living Building Challenge. Leader in Energy and Environmental Development (LEED), Net Zero Energy, Petal, and Buckminster Challenge are examples of programs that inspire innovative techniques to allow the co-existence of humans, businesses, and nature in a collective ecosystem.

The Living Building Challenge program administrator offers information on seven performance categories that enforce the well-being of people and our natural environment.

• Place: “Where it is acceptable for people to build,” protecting and restoring a place that encourages the creation of communities based on the pedestrian rather than the automobile” inviting “natural systems back into the daily fabric of our lives.”

• Net Positive Water: The goal is 100 percent of water needs relies on natural closed loop water systems. Used water is recycled and purified without the use of chemicals. Stormwater and water discharge must be treated onsite and re-used in a closed loop system, or released locally.

• Net Positive Energy: Up to 105 percent of energy needs must be supplied by on-site renewable energy with energy storage, without the use of combustion.

• Well-Being: Elements that nurture the innate human/nature connection are essential.

• Non-toxic Material: The Challenge “envisions a future where all materials in the built environment are regenerative and have no negative impact on human and ecosystem health.”

• Equitable: External negative environmental impacts are prohibited and quality fresh air, sunlight, and clean water ways that supports society or adjacent developments.

• Aesthetics: Creating a “design that uplifts the human spirit.”

Only five buildings have been certified as a Living Building: Tyson Living Center located in Missouri; Smith College’s Bechtel Environmental Classroom found in Massachusetts; Omega Center for Sustainable Living realized in New York; Bertschi Living Building Science Wing achieved in Seattle; and the Hawaii Preparatory Academy Energy Laboratory.

This Pacific Northwest, six-story, 50,000-square-foot Bullitt Center emulates strict standards to be certified as a Living Building. The Center automatically monitors the inside and outside temperatures, wind dynamics, precipitation events, sunlight conditions, and inside carbon dioxide concentrations. The on-site computer system processes the information and directs the operation of responsive gadgets. For example; orientation and position of Venetian blinds and windows and regulating heating, ventilation, air-conditioning (HVAC) settings.

Renewable sunlight energy is captured by solar panels located on the roof that, at times, provides 50 percent more electricity than needed. Rainwater is captured in an attempt to satisfy all the water needs of the building ecosystem, including drinking water. The urban underground water table is recharged as treated grey-water is released into the soil. The composting toilets use about a half a cup of water per flush and all wastes are processed on site.

Up to 362 materials harmful to life were not used with the goal of protecting the health of the building inhabitants. The pioneering office building built in the United States used Forest Stewardship Council (FSC-certified) wood in all aspects of building design to protect and sustain those forests for 1,000 to 2,000 years into the future.

There is no shortage of entries into the Living Building Challenge. Hayes was inspired to develop innovative strategies to meet the challenge with a passion for a sustainable world.

Elizabeth Armstrong, PhD is an Environmental Science instructor, author, and owner business. Her goal is to raise awareness on how we may all act as stewards for a sustainable world. Her Blog: naturemystic.wordpress.com. Her website: www.jazzyeco.com.

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