Bullitt Center awarded 2014 Top 10 Green Projects by American Institute of Architects

On April 22, the AIA’s Committee on the Environment (COTE) announced it’s 2014 Top 10 awards for green projects with exemplary architecture and ecological design.  Among the Top 10 is The Bullitt Center in Seattle, WA.  The innovative building is not only Net-Zero, but is Net-Positive, generating more energy than is needed to operate the building.  Additionally, it is the largest facility to be certified under the Living Building Challenge.  Additional winners of this year’s award include a LEED Platinum materials and testing laboratory in Ottawa, a LEED Platinum health and research facility created through a collaboration between three Universities in Oregon, and a LEED silver (pending) Military medical hospital with a world-class burn unit in San Antonio.

Solar Design Associates partnered with Miller-Hull to help bring this innovative and ambitious project to a net-positive status with a one-of-a-kind rooftop mounted PV array.  As the building’s design iterations progressed, the overall energy consumption grew and eventually SDA was faced with the challenge of requiring more square footage for PV than the rooftop space could provide.  The result is the visually striking and highly engineered PV array reaching outside of the buildings footprint and serving as a “crown” for the award winning Bullitt Center.

Bullitt Center & Seattle Skyline

Commentary from the AIA regarding the Bullitt Center:

“The Bullitt Center is a high performance urban office building demonstrating a commercially-viable structure with essentially no environmental footprint is possible; it is the largest certified Living Building. Performance metrics drove building design every material and system in the self-sustaining six-story, 52,000sf office building was evaluated toward the goal of net zero energy, water and waste—resulting in an unprecedented EUI of 10kbtu/sf/yr. Sustainable design moves responding to regional context include operable floor-to-ceiling windows for daylight and fresh air, heavy-timber framing, a transparent ‘irresistible stair’ with dramatic views, and overhanging roof characteristic of Northwest design vernacular. A new paradigm for design, the building serves as a living laboratory for high-performance architecture and sustainability education seeking to influence the way society views the relationship of a building to its environment.”

Steven J. Strong, President of Solar Design Associates also commented on the Bullitt Center project:

From Day 1 we knew this project was going to be a challenge.  Between the photon-deprived climate of Seattle, the various zoning restrictions in place, and available PV module technology, we knew the Bullitt Center would be a first-of-its kind type of project.  In order to be constructed, the Bullitt Center quite literally carved out its own category within Seattle’s building codes with the direct help of the Diane Sugimura, Direct of the Seattle Planning & Development department.  The amount of collaboration between all parties involved was very intense.

The primary challenge that SDA faced was completely offsetting the buildings electrical load with a PV array on a severely space constrained rooftop.  This involved designing a unique PV canopy and filling it with solar modules that were not yet commercially available.

When you have close relationships with industry leaders in the module manufacturing market, to the point where you can pick up the phone and speak with the higher-ups directly, you have the ability to partner with them and supply modules specifically for projects such as the Bullitt Center.  With over 40 years in the industry, SDA has been able to foster relationships like this throughout the industry and know who to turn to for projects with custom demands.  -Steven J. Strong

For more information on the Bullitt Center, Miller Hull, and the AIA’s Top Ten Projects, visit the links below.

Living Proof:  Building the Bullitt Center

The Seattle Times

CNN:  Secrets behind this super-green building

Miller Hull Partnership, LLP

Bullitt Center

2015 AIA COTE Top Ten Projects