In the Bullitt Center office building in Seattle,Washington,which opened on EarthDay, April22, 2013 and is owned by the environmentally conscious Bullitt Foundation, net zero energy and water initiatives have been combined with the Living Building Challenge, a rigorous verification process consisting of 20 demands that go beyond LEED®requirements.

Currently, there are over 140 Living Building Challenge registered projects in 10 countries, but only three to date in the U.S.have been fully certified and they are much smaller buildings than the six-story, 50,000 sq ft. Bullitt Center. The $30-million Bullitt Center underwent a full year of verification against the Challenge’s 20 “Imperatives” that fall under seven performance areas (site, water, energy, health, materials, equity and beauty).


The Bullitt Center building was designed to be one of the most energy efficient buildings in the U.S., achieving an energy efficiency of 83-percent better than the typical Seattle office building. To achieve the twin Imperatives of net-zero energy and net-zero water use, the Bullitt Center is equipped with a geothermal system and in-floor radiant heating, a 14,000sq. ft. canted and extended roof top filled with photovoltaic solar capture arrays to make electricity, a rainwater capture/purification system for potable systems with a 56,000 gallon basement cistern, onsite waste management and thermally glazed curtain wall windows that open and close automatically in response to outside conditions and to maximize daylight.



FHP Manufacturing AP, CA, ES,EP and WW Series heat pumps were specified by PAE Consulting Engineers for a total of ten units. The heat pumps provide heating and cooling to  the conference rooms, data center and elevator machine room. FHP water-to-water heat pumps are connected to Uponor PEX to deliver heated or chilled water for radiant heating or cooling, and also generate heat recovery for the ventilation system’s 100 percent outside air unit to precondition incoming fresh air with outgoing air. The vertical closed loop geothermal system consists of 26 geothermal wells, each 400 feet deep.

The net-zero energy and net-zero water objectives of the Bullitt Center that will have the most impact on the building’s attainment of a Living Building certification.Use of a geothermal HVAC system with dedicated on-site solar energy generation – even in cloudy climates like the Pacific Northwest – is a natural choice for Net-Zero Energy Buildings (NZEB).

Carbon neutral renewables like solar and geothermal energy along with radiant heating and cooling for indoor air comfort, in tandem with strict energy monitoring, will verify the vision put forth by the owner and the build team to create and sustain a true living laboratory for sustainability in a building that is commercially viable, aesthetically pleasing, and provides a great environment to work in.

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