The Bullitt Foundation, a Seattle-based sustainability advocacy group, is building what they call the "greenest, most energy efficient commercial building in the world."
The six-story, 50,000-square-foot building in downtown Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood is designed to be energy- and carbon-neutral, featuring solar panels for energy, water from a harvested rainwater system, indoor composting toilets, natural lighting, a system of geothermal wells for heating and a wood structure made out of FSC-certified wood.
"The goal of the Bullitt Center is to change the way buildings are designed, built and operated to improve long-term environmental performance and promote broader implementation of energy efficiency, renewable energy and other green building technologies in the Northwest," the foundation says on its website.
One of the most eye-catching elements of the building will be its large, expansive rooftop covered in solar panels. Builders had to get a special permit from the ceiling to allow the panels to stretch out over the sides of the roof.
Another remarkable feature is a 50,000-gallon underground cistern, which will capture and treat rainwater using an onsite biofiltration system, reports Time magazine.
High ceilings and oversize windows will provide 82 percent of lighting from the sun, and windows are programmed to open and close automatically to regulate temperature inside the building. The staircase affords spectacular views of the Space Needle and downtown skyline--encouraging tenants to skip the elevator and take the stairs instead.
"The end result is an elegant, simple, modern structure," says Denis Hayes, President of the Bullit Foundation, writing in Arcade magazine.
The building was designed to meet the rigorous standards of the Living Building Challenge, as put forth by the International Living Building Institute, a non-governmental organization committed to global sustainability.
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 specific imperatives within seven performance areas: Site, Water, Energy, Health, Materials, Equity and Beauty.
So far, the institute has awarded "Living Building" certification to only three buildings worldwide.