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Seattle Bullitt Center

Aiming to meet the requirements of the Living Building Challenge, the Seattle Bullitt Center is being touted as the world's greenest commercial building. It's taking a different approach, much more ambitious than LEED certification. To be declared a Living Building, a structure must be self-sufficient for energy and water for a full year as well as meet standards for the materials used and the indoor environment. This six-story, 50,000-square-foot building -- with tenants including the Bullitt Foundation, Sustainable Seattle and construction company Hammer & Hand -- was completed this year and is in the midst of the vetting process.

A rooftop solar array that extends past the walls is intended to provide all of the energy needed. The building will source its water by using rainwater collected from the roof and stored in a 56,000-gallon cistern underground; water then will be filtered and disinfected before use. To keep energy use within what's provided by the solar array, tenants will be given energy budgets that they must stay within or else pay for overages. Outlet metering will give tenants insight about their biggest energy hogs. In tackling a different type of waste, the building features composting toilets that empty into basement anaerobic composters.

(Image credit: Seattle Bullitt Center)