World's Greenest Office Building Under Construction

The Bullitt Foundation has broken ground on its new Seattle headquarters, which when completed may be the greenest commercial building in the world.

It will be the fourth mid-rise commercial building to achieve "living building" certification, which has much higher standards than LEED certification. About 100 others are in the design phase.

The 6-story, $30 million building will be home to environnmental funder Bullitt and other like-minded tenants.

To be energy and carbon-neutral, it will produce as much electricity as it uses and supply and treat all the water it uses by capturing rain in a 50,000 gallon underground cistern. Gray water will be filtered through a green roof and landscaping;  raw sewage will be composted and decontaminated before becoming fertilizer.

It will use just 25% of the energy of a standard building because of highly efficient electrical and mechanical systems, daylighting and the like – a unique sombrero-shaped solar PV array will extend over the building’s rim onto the sidewalk. 

Hazardous chemicals like lead and cadmium are on a list of 362 black-listed building materials.

Its location scores 98 of 100 on the Walk Score, an index that measures attributes such as mixed income, mixed use, density, access to public transportation, and proximity to schools, parks and local businesses.

Living Building certification is an initiative of Seattle-based International Living Future Institute. To be certified, buildings must generate their own energy and process their own waste just as all living systems do. 

"Bullitt is pushing the boundaries of performance in all categories, not just in one or two," Jason McLennan, Executive Director of the Living Future Institute, tells the NY Times. "For this building type and this scale, it’s the first in the world to go this far."

As was the case before LEED certification was widely accepted, the project has found few willing lenders. Banks won’t make a loan unless they can appraise its value, which means comparing it to similar buildings. 

Point32 is developing the building, which will be completed in late 2012.

Read the full NY Times article.

Here’s a short video about the building:

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