Bullitt Center Rises To The Green Building Top

The Bullitt Center in Seattle isn’t shy about touting its sustainability, declaring itself “The Greenest Commercial Building in the World.” Seems World Architecture News wouldn’t disagree.

WAN this month named the Bullitt Center its “Sustainable Building of the Year,” with an international panel selecting it over five other buildings short-listed for the prize. “There was obviously a deep commitment and collaboration from client, public agencies, and full multidisciplinary design team to making important new discoveries for sustainable design,” judge Mark Reddington of LMN architects said in a statement.

Bullitt Center

Bullitt Center, Seattle (image via World Architecture News Facebook page)

Randy Woods detailed the Miller Hull Partnership building’s features for EarthTechling after an Earth Day ribbon-cutting earlier this year.

Woods noted cutting-edge sustainable features such as a system to collect and filter “grey water” in underground cisterns for reuse throughout the building, a green roof to filter stormwater runoff, composting toilets, a 242-kW rooftop solar array to generate nearly all of the building’s electricity needs year-round, and large windows that will open to provide natural ventilation and sunlight.

In addition, a solar-powered hydronic radiant heating system was installed in the concrete floors, and 400-foot-deep heat-exchanger wells were drilled to help heat and cool the offices.

Built-in sensors monitor light levels, CO2, indoor-outdoor temperatures and weather conditions, Woods wrote. On the street outside, green planting strips and porous pavement materials will allow water to infiltrate into the soil below and reduce runoff into Puget Sound and nearby Lake Washington. To encourage mass transit use and walking within the building, the center has wide, inviting stairways and does not include a parking garage.

According to WAN, “Having met the entire annually targeted energy production in just seven months, the project was a clear success.”

The other five short-listed buildings were: Zero Carbon Building (Hong Kong) designed by Ronald Lu and Partners; the Knowledge Centre (Trondheim, Norway) from Ratio Arkitekter and the Nordic Office of Architecture;  1 Bligh (Sydney, Australia) designed by Ingehoven Architects + Architectus; the Umeå School of Architecture (Umeå, Sweden) from Henning Larsen Architects; and the Sheik Zayed Desert Learning Centre (Al Ain, United Arab Emirates) by Chalabi Architects and Partners.

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.