The Bullitt Center in Seattle Goes Well Beyond Green – NYTimes.com

Provided that the building clears a few remaining regulatory hurdles, all its water will be supplied by rainwater collected in a 56,000-gallon cistern before being filtered and disinfected. A rooftop array of photovoltaic panels, extending beyond the building like the brim of a graduation mortarboard, will produce an estimated 230,000 kilowatt-hours a year, hopefully just enough to break even for a building that is 83 percent more efficient than the city’s typical commercial site.

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The Living Building Challenge’s imperatives go far beyond those of the better-known LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. Its yearlong vetting process is designed in part to avoid the embarrassment suffered by some LEED certified buildings, where seemingly efficient buildings have proven to be much less so after the buildings have been completed and undergone energy audits.

While a number of states, counties and municipalities provide tax credits and fee reductions for LEED structures, only a few municipalities have followed suit so far for the newer Living Building Challenge. Nevertheless, proponents say that avoiding energy and water utility bills for 250 years, the expected life span of the Bullitt Center, offers its own compelling financial incentives.

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it may be the first heavy-timber midrise building erected in Seattle since the 1920s.

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a glass-enclosed stairwell that Mr. Hayes has named the “irresistible stairway,” rewards climbers with panoramic views of downtown and Puget Sound. The behavioral carrot, aimed at promoting both health and energy conservation, has been juxtaposed with the stick of a slow and less conveniently sited elevator that requires key card access.

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Although Mr. Sands admires the decision to forgo a traditional garage, he said the lack of on-site parking, coupled with Seattle’s inadequate mass transit, could create commuting headaches for employees who live in the city’s eastern suburbs and who may “have to figure out other methods or places to park nearby because they will have to drive.”

Mr. Hayes said the decision to not have on-site parking generated “spirited conversation” during the design phase. Instead, a space about the size of a three-car garage will be reserved exclusively for bicycles …

via The Bullitt Center in Seattle Goes Well Beyond Green – NYTimes.com.

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