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How the Bullitt Foundation created a 6-story living building

November 17, 2014

A long cry from his first environmental musing while trekking the Namib desert in 1965, Denis Hayes, CEO of the Bullitt Foundation was able to create a building that is in harmony with its surrounding environment. He told audience members at VERGE 2014 in San Francisco what transpired to make the building possible.

Better known as the coordinator for the first Earth Day in 1970, Hayes wanted to create an office building that would meet the requirements of the Living Building Challenge, and the Bullitt Center in Seattle is the first one to do so. The challenge requires building to be net neutral on water use, energy use and a number of other factors.

By staying under the energy budget of the building's photovoltaic panels, the Bullitt Center is actually net positive in energy generation, using less than half the energy required for a LEED Platinum rating.

Hayes said several times that the building is in Seatlle, the cloudiest metro area in the United States. Noting that the Bullitt Center skirts the upper limit of energy use at six stories, he threw down a gauntlet to other cities:

"But at least in Seattle if we can do six, it's good to ask, what's up, Phoenix?"