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Celebrate Earth Day at the greenest office building in your neighborhood… and the world

This is how the corner of 15th and Madison looked three Earth Days ago. That roof looks pretty green.8656027714_cdb2af84e3_b

While CC’s won’t be part of the celebration *this* Earth Day (the bar was reportedly offered a space but at one point but opted instead for an E Olive Way move) it should still be a pretty good party at the Bullitt Center

“The greenest commercial building in the world…”

that used to be a gay bar.

Over the weekend, one of the finishing touches before next Monday’s celebration of the project was completed as students planted the landscaping inside the overhauled McGilvra Place Park that fronts the Bullitt building. A Seattle U study once called the urban greenspace “the loneliest” place on Capitol Hill but CHS liked it fine for sitting for a summer lunch as Madison rushed by. The new Pacific Northwest-lush plantings will make it even nicer.



A second, western-facing solar array was originally part of the plan (Image: Design review proposal)

A second, western-facing solar array was originally part of the plan (Image: Design review proposal)

Monday’s Earth Day ceremony brings to an end an 18-month construction schedule and years of planning and politicking to make the building a reality. While the super green architecture, innovations and adherence to Living Building standards have inspired the sustainability and design world, the Bullitt’s local story includes city planning challenges, zoning restrictions and neighbors who put up a fight here and there to force compromises. The giant, photovoltaic-topped building you see standing today is a compromise on the vision. And it’s still very impressive.

A building not just green, but practically self-sustaining,” the New York Times gushed earlier this month.

Here’s what is inside — and not inside — the Bullitt:

  • Large solar array on the roof (in Seattle!) that generates as much electricity as the building uses in a year.

  • Rainwater catchment system that will supply all building needs, including drinking (pending regulatory approval).

  • More than 350 common toxic chemicals screened out of the building, including PVC, lead, mercury, phthalates, BPA and formaldehyde.

  • World’s only 6-story composting toilet system.

  • First commercial building to earn Forest Stewardship Council Project Certification in the US for use of 100% FSC-certified wood.

  • First heavy-timber commercial building in Seattle since 1920s.

CHS gave you a first look at the new building here:

The building with a roster of solar panels for energy, heat-providing geothermal wells, a giant rain cistern providing water and composting toilets has been designed to adhere to the principals ofthe Living Building Challenge requiring the project to meet 20 green “imperatives” and address seven “performance areas” — site, water, energy, health, materials, equity and beauty.

On this last area, the Bullitt Center has been built as a showcase. Passersby will see the ground floor activity of the University of Washington Integrated Design Lab and presentation space. A screen at the building’s west entrance will display analytics measuring the building’s energy performance. Features throughout the building will be marked with codes for self-guided tours and the bowels of the system — massive pipes and walls of meters and cables — stand behind glass walls designed for what will likely be a steady stream of visitors.

[mappress mapid=”37″]Expected at Monday’s grand opening are Governor Jay Inslee, King County Exec Dow Constantine and Mayor Mike McGinn. They’ll join Denis Hayes, Bullitt CEO and organizer of the first Earth Day in 1970, and developer Point32’s Chris Rogers in cutting the red (green?) ribbon and officially opening the building as neighbors, Hill residents, the building’s tenants and fans of sustainable design look on. UPDATE: No Constantine, we’re told.

While the project may be a green island in a Capitol Hill sea of development, it also stands as a beacon of what can be done. There are smaller islands being formed:

Bertschi School, an independent elementary school in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle, Wash., is now home to the first Living Building on the West Coast and the world’s fourth fully-certified Living Building.  Completed in February 2011, Bertschi’s Living Building Science Wing is a 3,380 square foot interactive learning environment for students ages 5-11.  It is the first built project to meet the standards of version 2.0 of the Living Building ChallengeSM, a green building certification program which integrates urban agriculture, social justice and universal access issues, and the use of healthy building materials.

And work is also beginning to change that development sea.

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Joseph Singer
Joseph Singer
8 years ago

I’m sure they won’t have Christmas lights as nice as CC’s had.


[…] concept wasn’t quite worthy of the high profile, high visibility real estate across from the greenest commercial building in the world. Wednesday, it’s back to the drawing board with a newly fleshed out concept that Newell and […]

tessa martin
tessa martin
8 years ago

I find it interesting that this is the first time I’ve seen a copy of the invitation for Monday and I leave across the street from this building. They have done very little, in my eyes, to include the surrounding community and neighbors either in the planning, ripping up a beautiful park and now inviting folks to the grand opening. Why in the world would they not embrace their surrounding community and neighbors? There is so much resentment over this awful looking building albeit I am impressed with its green and sustainable components but to date, they have not been good neighbors and I’m quite sure they won’t grow into it either.

8 years ago

typo – oops! Change “leave” to “live” across the street . . .


[…] Reminder Bonus: Don’t forget about the celebration to officially open 15th and Madison’s Bullitt Center, the greenest commercial building… in the […]


[…] We’ve told you *lots* about the Earth Day 2013 celebration to officially open 15th and Madison’s Bullitt Center. […]

8 years ago

Argh. They are not open to the public at noon. They are only open for guided tours, and all the tours were full by 12:20pm. Very poor planning for the greenest building in the greenest city on the west coast.