Plans for a solar microgrid at Capitol Hill community center will power building, through rain, shine… or disaster

Miller Community Center (Image: CHS)

Seattle’s community centers provide a lot of simple but important things to their neighborhoods including recreation and meeting space. But they could also help the city develop strength and resilience in a future of extreme weather and in emergencies like a giant earthquake.

Seattle City Light is partnering with Seattle Parks and Recreation to implement a first of its kind solar microgrid at Capitol Hill’s Miller Community Center.

The microgrid involves more than solar panels as a battery energy storage system and microgrid controls will also be installed.

The planned system will provide backup power storage necessary to keep the community center functioning during windstorms, power outages, and other emergency events.

“The project will empower a community to recover quickly from unplanned emergency events and gain technical knowledge on the installation and operation of a microgrid system,” Seattle City Light says about the project. “Analytics from the microgrid resiliency project will allow the City of Seattle to research and develop similar technologies.” Continue reading

With $4.6M deal for uber green project at 13th and Pike, developer leaps ahead in race to build new Capitol Hill condos

(Images: Solis)

A $4.6 million land deal at the corner of 13th and Pike will kick off a race to build the first new condominium project on Capitol Hill in… a really long time.

Developer Solterra slapped down the cold, hard cash in a transaction reported to the county Monday for the former Fran’s Chocolates building and a 2016-approved plan to build Capitol Hill’s (and Seattle’s) first Passive House-certified mixed-use project at 13th and Pike.

The new wrinkle in the uber-green project? Condos. Here’s how the developer is describing the planned Solis project: Continue reading

Design review: What could be Capitol Hill’s (and Seattle’s) first Passive House-certified mixed-use project

screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-4-43-51-pmWednesday night’s session of the East Design Review Board includes what could be the final session before construction can begin on the Liberty Bank Building, a project that many hope can be a model for inclusive development in the Central District. Another trailblazing project — this one at 13th and Pike — could also pass through its final review Wednesday night.

Design review: 1300 E Pike

The project hoped to become Seattle’s first Passive House-certified mixed-use project will come to the board with developers Maria Barrientos and Cascade Built teaming up with architects Weber Thompson to take another crack at approval after falling just short in September. Continue reading

As Hill’s Bullitt Center continues to stand alone, Seattle looks to open up Living Building program

We’re in the middle of a construction boom and the city is as green as they come but Seattle’s program designed to foster showcases of environmental best practices only has one true Living Building to show for it. But a new package of changes to city codes could result in more buildings like Capitol Hill’s Bullitt Center finally sprouting up around Seattle.

“The large amount of construction we’re seeing in the city right now and strong commitment from not only builders and architects in the community… it’s surprising we haven’t seen more Living Buildings in the program,” City Council Planning, Land Use, and Zoning Committee chair Rob Johnson said last week as the group passed legislation hoped to kickstart the program.

Many of the proposed changes are technical adjustments to better align city laws with recent changes in state laws or to streamline city buildings codes. A few are also designed to make buildings more energy efficient generally, such as requiring high-efficiency heaters, or making buildings ready for solar panels.

But a number of them are designed to make Living Buildings like the Bullitt Center more feasible. Continue reading

Design review: Passive in Pike/Pine, towering on First Hill

Passive in Pike/Pine

Passive in Pike/Pine

Towering on First Hill

Towering on First Hill

You can get a quick handle on the latest building trends in your neighborhood in one evening of design review.Two projects fully emblematic of the respective waves of development moving across First Hill and Capitol Hill will come before the review board Wednesday night. On Capitol Hill at 1300 E Pike, six stories of what could be Seattle’s first Passive House-certified, net-zero energy, most-hyphenated ever, mixed-use development will be up for review. On First Hill, meanwhile, the story at 707 Terry is not one but a set of matchy matchy, artfully leaning, skybridge-connected 33-story towers just elegant enough to call the Frye Museum a neighbor.

Look. Plans for a mural.

Look. Plans for a mural.

1300 E Pike
On Capitol Hill, the buildings may only reach six or seven stories but they’re starting to get complicated. Destined to rise above the corner at 13th and Pike currently home to the former Fran’s Chocolates, this uber-green development cruised through its first review this spring. CHS reported then on the first of its kind “sustainable apartment building” that will include “a passive house design that reduces energy needs to as close to zero as possible.” Continue reading

City fleet’s 30% goal puts Seattle electric car initiative into first gear

Mayor Ed Murray and City Council member Mike O’Brien test drove an electric vehicle this week to celebrate progress on Seattle’s electric car initiative, a plan that includes improving the infrastructure for EVs, electrifying the city’s own vehicle fleet, and continuing Seattle’s ongoing conquest to cut carbon emissions and pollution from transit.

In the video of the stunt, we learn Murray does the driving in this relationship, neither of these guys drive very often, Murray owns a Subaru Forester, and O’Brien can spout EV trivia like Rain Man. We also learn that the City Council’s Transportation and Sustainability committee Wednesday approved a resolution “which sets a goal to have 30% of all light-duty vehicles in Seattle operate under electric power by the year 2030.” The EV champions Murray and O’Brien also “announced their intention to significantly expand electric vehicle infrastructure in Seattle, such as charging stations, to encourage and serve the electric vehicle demand.” Continue reading

Eco-first (but also vegan), Drizzle + Shine opens on Capitol Hill

White inside the newly opened Drizzle + Shine (Image: CHS)

White inside the newly opened Drizzle + Shine (Image: CHS)

Drizzle + Shine - 2 of 2Jean White has been vegan for years. Her new Capitol Hill eco boutique has been vegan for all of one day.

Drizzle + Shine opened Wednesday in a commercial space along 15th Ave E on the Group Health Capitol Hill campus.

“I’ve been vegan for 16 years,” White tells CHS. “I extended that to my clothing.”

The new store sells clothing and accessories from undies to sunglasses to shoes — for men and women and everybody. Items stocked at Drizzle + Shine are animal-free and the goods are either fair trade, organic, local, USA-made, recycled — or all of the above.

“The environmental aspect is the central goal,” White says.

The shop is an outgrowth of a style blog White maintained and while she also has created Drizzle + Shine as an online retail presence with drizzleandshine.com, she believed it was important to create a space where people can see and feel the products in person.

“My experience is it’s really hard to find a place to look at these labels,” she said.

Finding goods for the shelves hasn’t been difficult. White says brick and mortar stores like hers are so rare that manufacturers are eager to have a real-world location to make their creations available.

As for 15th Ave E, the space has sputtered along as a cafe in recent years with the eclectic Abodegas exiting the property in JanuaryInsomniax Cafe also shut after fading in the space. Meanwhile, salon A New You has been doing its thing next door with plenty of regulars for years. White, who used to live on the Hill, said she has been happy to see so many people walking by as she has been busy setting up the shop this week. “I want to be where the people are,” she said. She hopes the hundreds of Group Health employees will also present a built-in customer base.

She also believes in Drizzle + Shine beyond its retail goals.

“I wouldn’t have just gone into retail to open any store,” she said.

Drizzle + Shine is located at 102 15th Ave E and planned to be open Monday though Saturday 11-7 and Sundays 12-5. Sunday, the store will hold a grand opening party with prizes and snacks. You can learn more at drizzleandshine.com.

2016 Urban Forest Symposium: Sustaining the Urban Forest During Densification

Explosive population growth is underway in the Puget Sound Region. The 2016 Urban Forest Symposium will explore approaches to sustaining the urban forest in the face of this rapid densification. Speakers will introduce the tenets of Smart Growth initiatives which have been widely adopted by policy makers, influencing land use decisions and the urban forest in Seattle and around the world. Case studies of successful approaches from Seattle and other cities will offer insights into ways to creatively address our local challenges.

Speakers include:

  • John McNeil, Manager of Forestry Services, Oakville, Ontario
  • Laurie Reid, Urban Forestry Supervisor, Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Shelley Bolser, Land Use Planning Supervisor, Department of Construction & Inspections, Seattle, WA
  • Cass Turnbull, Founder of PlantAmnesty
  • Peg Staeheli, FASLA, PLA, LEED AP, MIG/SvR Design Company

What: 2016 Urban Forest Symposium

Who: Urban foresters, planners, policymakers, landscape architects, garden designers, landscape contractors, advocates, volunteers, restoration companies and organizations, project managers and landscape maintenance staff

Where: UW Botanic Gardens – Center for Urban Horticulture, NHS Hall (3501 NE 41st St)

When: Tuesday, May 17th, 8:45am-4pm. Reception to follow 4-6pm.

Cost: $85. Lunches available for $15. Free lunch available for the first 100 registrants

$45 – Student/WCC member rate. Must be current or active. We may ask you to provide verification.

Seattle’s first Passive House-certified mixed-use project at 13th and Pike faces first review

A former Capitol Hill chocolate factory — in an auto row era building with an, um, nutty past — will provide “character inspiration” for what could be the first passive house certified mixed-use development in Seattle. The project faces its first design review Wednesday night.

CHS reported on the uber-green six-story, 55-unit project above 2,400 square feet of retail space, and no underground parking late last month as frequent Capitol Hill developer Maria Barrientos teamed up with Cascade Built and architects Weber Thompson to transform the corner of 13th and Pike still owned by Fran’s Chocolates which moved its operations to Georgetown in 2014. Just down the street from the Bullitt Centerthe world’s first living building, the project will aspire to the standards set by Passive House Institute US. Among the many requirements, passive buildings are required to be extremely airtight and insulated to minimize energy use. UPDATE: The project is, indeed, planned to have 26 units of underground parking.

The project is described as a first of its kind “sustainable apartment building that includes a passive house design that reduces energy needs to as close to zero as possible.” The developers say that the passive features including increased insulation affect the massing and windows and that “exterior shading devices” will shield the south and western faces of the building from “heat loads.” Meanwhile, the design will use “the old rhythm of the column spacing” and “many elements such as the brick and the ornamental pieces on the current facade.” Continue reading

Music tech maker Sonos opens Bullitt Center office

(Image: The Bullitt Center)

(Image: The Bullitt Center)

Another tech company is making a home on Capitol Hill. California-based wireless speaker and audio technology company Sonos has announced it is opening an engineering office for 70 employees inside super green office building the Bullitt Center at 15th and E Madison.

Bullitt Center representatives said the new office makes the “greenest office building in the world” now 100% leased. Earlier this year, the center’s developers at the Bullitt Foundation celebrated the two-year-old project’s Living Building Certification. The Bullitt Center is the first office building to receive the certification awarded to buildings that essentially operate as living organisms — self-sufficient for water and energy and actively promoting the health of its occupants and surrounding environment.

UPDATE: A company spokesperson tells CHS that joining the Bullitt Center comes with added responsibilities. Tenants are expected to meet standards for energy consumption and be part of the building’s non-toxic material requirements. “We’re excited to be part of an environment that will encourage us to be thoughtful,” the Sonos representative said.

Sonos will begin with an engineering team of 10 in its new Seattle office with hopes to grow the teams working here to around 70. The engineering work done at the Bullitt will primarily focus on the company’s software, the spokesperson said.

Sonos hardware

Sonos hardware

The Sonos announcement comes amid a small wave of new tech firms finding new spaces in the neighborhood including the newly opened Chophouse Row development that Mazlo, Tectonic, and Glympse now call home.

“Our new and growing team in Seattle will take up residence at the iconic Bullitt Center, known as the greenest commercial building in the world, located in the Capitol Hill neighborhood,” the Sonos announcement on the new office reads. “We look forward to taking in the iconic ‘Seattle Sound,’ incredible music venues, the local Capitol Hill Block Party music festival, as well as the sounds of whatever the team has lined up in the Sonos queue.”

While the building has been a major success on the green construction front, it’s taken more than two years to fully lease the five-story center beyond the initial tenant roster. Like Sonos, not all tenants are environment-focused businesses or organizations but all tend to be forward looking and design focused. In 2013, for example, construction firm Hammer & Hand joined the building.

Here are the current Bullitt tenants Sonos is joining:

  • Bullitt Foundation
  • Hammer & Hand
  • Intentional Futures
  • International Living Future Institute
  • PAE Consulting Engineers
  • Point32
  • University of Washington Integrated Design Lab

Space in the building was going for $30 per square foot. Sonos is claiming about 14,000 square feet, the company representative said.

With around 300 employees, Sonos also has offices in Santa Barbara, and Boston in the United States, The Netherlands, France, Germany, Denmark, The United Kingdom, and China. The company’s vice president of software development told the PSBJ Sonos will have room for about 70 employees in the Bullitt Center office. We’ll have to follow up to find out if the Bullitt Center will be able to deploy a full Sonos music system on every floor — and still meet its green benchmarks. UPDATE: Yup — Sonos will be deploying Sonos gear on their floor and a half of office space, we’re told.