Case Study

Bullitt Center

Blueprint for Change: A Seattle office building aims to be self-sustaining, offering a new model for urban projects.

With its silvery metal panels and glass cladding, and a canted photovoltaic (PV) array that projects beyond the edges of the roof like the brim of a hat, the recently completed six-story Bullitt Center in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood doesn't at all resemble a Douglas-fir forest, admits Denis Hayes. Nevertheless, Hayes, who is president and CEO of the Bullitt Foundation, is fond of comparing the 52,000-square-foot office building to just such a forest. "It functions like one," he says.

Appearances aside, Hayes's metaphor is apt. If the $18.5 million building operates as intended, it will be self-sufficient in much the same way a forest is: it will obtain all its water from the rain that falls on the site, and over the course of a year will consume no more electricity than is generated by the roof's PVs.

Published May 2, 2013