Seattle University to monitor 'world's greenest commercial building'

Bullitt Center under construction (John Stamets)

Seattle — Seattle punctuated Earth Day 2013 with the dedication of what is touted as "the world's greenest commercial building."

Seattle University will be among those testing that claim.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn were among dignitaries at the grand opening of the Bullitt Center, a $30 million, six-story, 50,000-square-foot office building that will generate all its own electricity, capture and store rain for all its water needs, compost its own waste, and treat its greywater on-site.

Faculty and students of Seattle University's recently founded Center for Environmental Justice and Sustainability will be testing the efficacy of the new building's third-floor balcony "wetland" at processing sullage from sinks and showers. The water quality monitoring is required by the city health department.

It will be a short walk, as the CEJS offices have moved to the innovative structure itself, located at 15th Avenue and Madison Street, about two blocks from the university's campus in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood.

Help fund independent Catholic journalism.
Donate now.

In addition to its waste, water and power initiatives, the Bullitt Center observed strict green building protocols in its construction. It is reported to be the largest structure to qualify for the Living Building Challenge, a stringent standard in sustainable building.

According to the Bullitt Center website, "To be certified as a Living Building, a structure is required to be self-sufficient for energy and water for at least 12 continuous months and to meet rigorous standards for green materials and for the quality of its indoor environment."

Among its imperatives, the challenge demands projects support a pedestrian-, bicycle- and transit-friendly lifestyle; promote health of occupants via inviting stairways, good ventilation, natural light and resource sharing; and not contain any "Red List" hazardous materials such as PVC, cadmium, lead, mercury and hormone-mimicking substances, all common in building components.

The Bullitt Center was developed by the Bullitt Foundation, a long-established organization with a mission "to safeguard the natural environment by promoting responsible human activities and sustainable communities in the Pacific Northwest."

Foundation president Denis Hayes is a well-known environmentalist who was primary coordinator of the first Earth Day in 1970 and directed the federal Solar Energy Research Institute during the administration of President Jimmy Carter.

Launched in January after nearly two years of preparation and planning, Seattle University's Center for Environmental Justice and Sustainability will focus on "innovative and interdisciplinary scholarship, teaching, and learning in environmental sustainability and its intersection with issues of justice," its website states.

The center's director, Phillip L. Thompson, told NCR the center will also sponsor community outreach efforts. He cited an "environmental literacy project" with Hawthorne Elementary as an example. 

Support independent reporting on important issues.

 One family graphic_2016_250x103.jpg

Show comments

NCR Comment code: (Comments can be found below)

Before you can post a comment, you must verify your email address at
Comments from unverified email addresses will be deleted.

  • Be respectful. Do not attack the writer. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the original idea will be deleted. NCR reserves the right to close comment threads when discussions are no longer productive.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report abuse" button. Once a comment has been flagged, an NCR staff member will investigate.

For more detailed guidelines, visit our User Guidelines page.

For help on how to post a comment, visit our reference page.

Commenting is available during business hours, Central time, USA. Commenting is not available in the evenings, over weekends and on holidays. More details are available here. Comments are open on NCR's Facebook page.