News Brief

Seattle School Earns World's Fourth Living Building Certification

Students at the Bertschi School measure rainwater collected in the school's garden cisterns.

The Bertschi School

The Bertschi School’s 3,380 ft2 Living Building Science Wing, completed in February 2011, adds to a main building that was Washington’s first LEED Gold-certified elementary school in 2007. The new science wing serves students from preschool through fifth grade with a sustainability curriculum that incorporates real-time monitoring of energy and water use. Head of the school Brigitte Bertschi notes, “We are not simply teaching about how to responsibly manage resources. The Science Wing allows students to put our curriculum to authentic use.”

A 20 kW photovoltaic system provides all of the net-zero-energy building’s electricity, rainwater is used for irrigation and a composting toilet, and an interior living wall treats the building’s graywater. The school’s urban site on a former basketball court includes a green roof, a vegetable garden, and a garden of native Northwest plants used in classes on indigenous culture and art materials.

The building was designed by KMD Architects’ Restorative Design Collective in collaboration with the Bertschi School and included both students’ and teachers’ input. To be certified under the Living Building Challenge, the project had to meet 20 “imperatives”—including net-zero energy, onsite wastewater treatment, and avoidance of a Red List of hazardous materials—and then perform as intended for a full year of occupancy.


Published April 15, 2013

Weaver, E. (2013, April 15). Seattle School Earns World's Fourth Living Building Certification. Retrieved from

Add new comment

To post a comment, you need to register for a BuildingGreen Basic membership (free) or login to your existing profile.