The adage “If you build it, they will come” is in full experimental application at the corner of 15th Avenue and E Madison Street on Capitol Hill, where the city’s largest Living Building project is beginning to show signs of life. A collaboration among the Miller Hull Partnership (architect), Point32 (developer), Schuchart (general contractor) and The Bullitt Foundation (client), the 75-foot-high, six-story commercial building is delivering on a challenge issued last year by the local Cascadia Region Green Building Council: to create a commercial building that is completely self-sustaining, from water conservation and solar power to net zero-energy use.
To be called the Cascadia Center for Sustainable Design and Construction, it is one of two local projects targeting Living Building certification. (The other is a one-room science building at Capitol Hill’s Bertschi School.) The building’s challenging site and sheer size have tested the collective brain trust, which has responded with innovative solutions: Solar panels on the top and along the south side of the building (the largest photovoltaic system in the city, once completed) will provide power and heat water, and rainwater runoff will be collected, filtered and recycled so that 100 percent of water used in the building is “created” on site.
The building won’t be completed until next year at the earliest, but the rise of a truly green commercial building—in lean development times, no less—may be the beacon needed to lead those who must inevitably follow.
Published November 2010
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