Seattle's Bullitt Center influencing codes and public policy on sustainability

Seeking approval to be its own water district

October 27, 2014 |
The buildings design was made possible by Seattles Deep Green Pilot Program th

The Bullitt Center in Seattle, which some say is the world's "most efficient" office building is not only influencing how other structures are built, it is contributing to revisions of codes and public policy.

The building’s design was made possible by Seattle’s Deep Green Pilot Program that allows builders to deviate from standard codes to build more sustainably. For example, the building was allowed to add two to three feet to the height of each floor to allow more daylighting. Neighbors objected to the additional 10 feet in overall building height, but the program permitted the non-conforming design.

Some of the building’s code deviations have been incorporated into the city code. For instance, the city council and the mayor had to approve changes to the building code to allow permits for “sustainability features.” This move allows the building’s solar canopy to extend all the way to the property line.

Bullitt Foundation, the environmental group that owns the building, recently signed a first-in-the-nation agreement with the local utility that will allow the foundation to sell Seattle City Light the energy it is saving or “negawatts.” The arrangement, known as MEETS (metered energy efficiency transaction structure) could be a pioneer in drawing investment funds to energy-efficiency projects.

Bullitt is also seeking final approvals from the county and state to turn the building into its own water district. That designation would allow tenants to drink rainwater collected on site and treated in the building’s basement.


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