Bullitt Center in Seattle is Living Proof of a Living Building

The World’s Greenest Commercial Building

Photos by Brad Khan for The Bullitt Center.

“A building that is influential and begins to change the way that architects, engineers, contractors, developers and financial institutions shape the built environment, that’s a building that was worth building.” – Denis Hayes, CEO, Bullitt Foundation

Buildings account for an estimated 39% of carbon dioxide emissions, 65% of waste and 70% of electrical use in the United States. In the Pacific Northwest, a changing climate is already shifting the use of water, energy and other natural resources. To address this reality, the Bullitt Center in Seattle, WA demonstrates what is possible. The Bullitt Center is the first urban in-fill commercial building to receive Living Building certification. Net-zero energy, net-zero water, onsite treatment of sewage and exclusion of many common Living Building Challenge “Red List” materials are just some reasons the Bullitt Center is innovative.

Meeting The Living Building Challenge Criteria

The Living Building Challenge is a philosophy, advocacy platform, and certification program that consists of seven performance areas (Site, Water, Energy, Health, Materials, Equity and Beauty) that are subdivided into twenty “imperatives”. The Bullitt Center met the challenge in these key areas:


  • To achieve “net zero energy,” the Bullitt Center rooftop solar power system generates as much electricity as the building requires in a year. During sunny summer months, the photovoltaic (PV) array produces more electricity than building occupants use; in the gray winter months, it produces less.
  • 575: Number of solar panels on the roof of the Bullitt Center.
  • 82 percent: Amount of the building that is naturally day-lit.


  • Rainwater falling on the Bullitt Center’s roof through gaps between the PV array is carried by downspouts to a 56,000-gallon cistern, an 8-foot tall, 950 square-foot room in the basement. The system supplies all non-potable fixtures in the building including toilets, hose spigots, and irrigation systems.
  • In addition, the system meets all potable water needs for the building. Rainwater will pass through a series of filters to remove impurities, an ultra-filter that is so fine that it takes out viruses, and an ultraviolet disinfection system.
  • 56,000 gallons: Size of the cistern in the basement to capture rainwater.
  • 950: Size of the cistern in square feet

Materials Red List Approval

  • Lead-Free Ball Valve – The Bullitt Center uses lead-free valves and fixtures throughout the building, including non-potable systems.
    such as on the geothermal heat exchanger and in the fire-suppression systems.
  • Phthalate-Free Air Barrier – The Bullitt Center worked with manufacturers to successfully eliminate all phthalates from their entire line of products.
  • Mission No-Hub EPDM Couplings – Throughout the building, EPDM became the substitute for neoprene, even on the gasket to the cistern manhole cover.
  • PVC-Free Electrical Wire – The Bullitt Center contains no PVC wire.
  • Eco-Based Insulation Adhesives – The Bullitt Center uses an insulation that is held together by a plant-based binder.
  • 362: Number of common hazardous “Red List” materials avoided in the Bullitt Center.

Concrete Flooring

  • Concrete is a naturally sustainable material.
  • Hydronic heat tubes were laid under concrete flooring in the Bullitt Center.
  • 400 feet: Depth of geothermal wells used to heat and cool the building.
  • 26: Number of geothermal wells