Environmental Health News

Bullitt Center Exceeds Most Rigorous Sustainable Building Standards

Return to 2016, Issue #3 issue

Photo of the exterior of the Bullitt Center

The levels of toxic gases and particle pollution inside the Bullitt Center were well below the limits stipulated in the latest Living Building Challenge requirements.

Photo:

Nic Lehoux.

Professor David Kalman presented findings of a collaborative study on the indoor air quality of the Bullitt Center, a commercial Living Building Challenge-certified building, at the Semiahmoo Symposium on Environmental, Occupational and Public Health in January 2016.  

The Bullitt Center is an office building located in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood.  

In 2006, a chapter of the US Green Building Council, known for their renowned LEED certification, proposed the most audacious set of sustainable building standards to date, the Living Building Challenge. The standards focus not only on sustainable building practices but also on creating a healthy indoor environment by reducing the use of toxic materials in construction.  

The Bullitt Center building has a complex rain collection system and a field of solar panels on its roof, allowing it to capture more water and produce more energy than it uses.  Furthermore, the Bullitt Center has focused on creating a healthy indoor environment by switching out many common building materials with toxic components for non-toxic alternatives.  

Martin Cohen.

The researchers who conducted the study of indoor air quality found that levels of toxic gases and particle pollution in the Bullitt Center were well below the limits stipulated in the latest LBC requirements.  

“In the past, architects have focused on energy efficiency and forgotten about the indoor environment, but the Bullitt Center approach covers both,” said Martin Cohen, who led the study. Cohen is a senior lecturer and directs the Field Research and Consultation Group in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences.

Research Coordinator Marc Beaudreau is also involved in the study. He is a master’s degree student in the department.

Four years after its construction, the Bullitt Center office space is now fully leased, demonstrating that environmental sustainability and economic success can come hand in hand.

Return to 2016, Issue #3 issue