Bullitt Foundation Cascadia Center for Sustainable Design and Construction


Bicycle Parking
alternate text
Bicycle parking makes this alternative transportation more attractive and convenient.
Credit: Nic Lehoux

General Information

Quick Facts


Seattle, WA

Building Type

  • Office

Project Information

Project Owner

The Bullitt Foundation

The Bullitt Foundation Cascadia Center for Sustainable Design and Construction opened on Earth Day (April 22) 2013 and is designed to be the greenest office building in the world. With a 250 year design life, the Bullitt Center building was designed to be net zero energy and water as well as to meet many other sustainability goals.

One of the most ambitious aspects of the Bullitt Center will be achieving the goals of the Living Building Challenge (version 2.0), as described by the International Living Building Institute. Once fully occupied*, to be certified as a Living Building a structure is required to be self-sufficient for energy and water for at least 12 continuous months and to meet rigorous standards for green materials and for the quality of its indoor environment.

The building is designed to be energy and carbon neutral, with a water and sewage processing system that allows the building to be independent of municipal water and sewage systems. Energy neutrality is achieved with a large solar panel array on the roof of the building along with energy conservation measures that will cut the building's energy consumption to approximately 1/3 of a typical office building of similar size.

Full Project Team:

  • Miller Hull Partnership – Architect
  • Point32 – Development Partner
  • PAE – MEP Engineering
  • Schuchart – General Contractor, Core & Shell
  • Berger Partnership – Landscape Architecture
  • DCI Engineers – Structural Engineering
  • Foushee – General Contract, Tenant Improvements
  • Geotility – Geothermal Well Drilling and Instillation
  • Luma Lighting Design – Lighting
  • Northwest Wind and Solar – Solar Array Construction and Installation
  • PSF Mechanical – Mechanical Engineering
  • RDH – Building Enclosure and Performance Testing
  • Solar Design Associates – Photovoltaic Engineering and Design
  • 2020 Engineering – Water Systems
  • Keithly Barber Associates – Commissioning

Location Details


1501 East Madison Street , Seattle, WA

Site context/setting



Owner Occupied


Owner Type

Corporation, nonprofit

Details About Occupancy

As a commercial office building, the Bullitt Center is home to a variety of tenants. While organizations of all shapes and sizes are welcome, tenants are required to commit to energy and water budgets as part of the lease to ensure the building meets the Living Building Challenge. - See more at: http://www.bullittcenter.org/building/tenants/#sthash.lieWTLey.dpuf

Ratings & Awards

International Living Future Institute

Building Details



Total Gross Floor Area 52,000 ft²


Building unit or complex: Described project is a single building



April 2013 Expected Building Service Life 250 years

Architectural Details


The materials used in the building are compliant with the Living Building Challenge. A full list of the environmentally safe products used in the building is available on the Bullitt Center web site:

Heavy timber construction was selected for its low-embodied energy, the ability to sequester carbon in the wood, and the regional character of the product. The six-story office building is therefore constructed with 100% FSC certified heavy timber.


The building features multiple system-level measures to improve energy performance. A full discussion of the features is available on the Bullitt Center web site:


Design Process

Predesign: Such an innovative project necessitated an integrated team. Denis Hayes, the project owner, conducted a lengthy interview process to ensure that the right partners were selected for the project, which ended up including the Miller Hull Partnership as the project architect and Point 32 as the general contractor. Each week there was a meeting with the architects, owner, and contractor, as well as sub-contractors as needed. Every change the architects made had to move the building closer to the performance target, so they had to work with the engineers to examine the performance impact of each design change.



How the Project was Financed

The Bullitt Center cost $18.5 million to construct, which added up to about $355 a square foot.

Project Costs

Property Acquisition Costs


Project Costs

Professional Fee: $0 $/ft2 Management Fee: $0 $/ft2 Financing : $0 $/ft2 Site Work: $ $/ft2 Construction: $ $/ft2 Tenant Improvements : $ $/ft2


General Energy


Energy Use

The Bullitt Center has demonstrated that it uses 75 percent less energy than a new building that meets Seattle’s rigorous energy code. The building used 147,260 kWh of electricity compared to a baseline of 593,891 kWh for a similar building built to code (Source: Seattle City Light). During the same period, the Bullitt Center generated 252,560 kWh of clean, renewable energy from the solar panels on its roof, even more than the 230,000 kW a year projection.

One of the reasons for success is that tenants agree to limit plug loads to 0.8 watts per square foot.

HVAC: The building uses a ground-source heat pump with 26 wells for heating and some degree of cooling. The heat pumps are used to heat or cool water that is circulated the radiant heating floor system. A separate water-source heat pump can be used to cool the conference rooms on each floor, which is meant to encourage people to schedule meetings in the morning or in the conference rooms--a good example of how the building prompts occupant behavior that maximizes both comfort and efficiency. The building also has a dedicated ventilation system with a heat recovery unit.

Envelope: The Schuco curtainwall system is super tight but still allows for operable windows. A digital controller automatically opens the windows and adjusts the interior and exterior shades based on sensors that measure air quality. The system will primarily be used for night flushing during the summer, but occupants can also manually override the controllers and open or close their window if they see fit. The system takes control again after 30 minutes.

Controls: The direct digital control is managed by a KMC building management system. This system monitors the building's mechanical heating and cooling systems, the water supply and wastewater systems, the ventilation systems and the operable windows and skylights. It also monitors and records physical data from a rooftop weather station and numerous indoor meters and sensors around the building measuring fluid pressure, temperatures and flows, air temperature, relative humidity and CO2 levels, and slab temperatures.

Energy Security

Connected to the grid
Renewable Solar Energy

Energy Systems

242 kW roof mounted PV

Energy Datasets

Dataset NameYearTypePurchased Energy (kBtu/ft²)
nbi2016Actual--utility bills-5.94


Project Team

Miller Hull Partnership
Keithly Barber Associates
Commissioning agent
PAE Consulting Engineers
Mechanical engineer



Water Use / Conservation Description

Per the Living Building Challenge, all stormwater is collected and managed on site. Water that falls on the roof is collected in a 56,000 underground cistern and treated to eventually use as potable water, pending a permit from the city.

Greywater from the sinks and showers is filtered and then passes through a constructed wetland on the second floor of the roof. This water can then be used for irrigation.

The building also uses foam flush toilets, making the Bullitt Center the tallest building in the world to use composting toilets. The compost is collected and treated in the basement and then the compost can be reused as fertilizer. Combined, these strategies enable the Bullitt Center to reduce its water footprint 80%.