When the cutting-edge Bullitt Center opened in Seattle two years ago, it drew praise for its radical commitment to sustainability, as well as skepticism over the real-world economics of a zero-impact office building. Could a structure that abides by the Living Building Challenge, a new high bar for green construction that requires sustainability and self sufficiency and won't certify until a year of energy data is analyzed, not only work, but become more than a theoretical model? After looking at the numbers, the Bullitt Center actually generated 60 percent more energy than it used last year. With that trailblazer as an example, numerous projects in the building, planning and analysis stage are seeking certification and similar results. Here are seven new projects seeking Living Building Challenge certification that show how the technology behind the Bullitt Center is being replicated and refined.
Brock Environmental Center (Virginia Beach, Virginia)
Named after a pair of local philanthropists, this elevated structure at Pleasure House Point boasts solar panels, wind turbines and a kayak dock. Set upon stilts 14 feet above sea level, the environmental center is built to adapt to climate change and rising sea levels.
Glumac Shanghai Office (Shanghai, China)
In a country where a building boom and air quality standards often raise questions of sustainability, this new Gensler-designed office, the first Living Building Challenge participant in Asia, suggests a more green future. Outfitted with an electronic air-monitoring system visible on wide displays in the front lobby as well as via smartphone, it contains numerous features that help workers breathe easy, including a living green wall.
Monarch School (Houston, Texas)
A minimalist studio built for an institution that cares for children with autism and neurological disorders, the Monarch School features a chemical-free, environmentally safe interior for its students and utilized numerous sources for recycled and reused materials, such as donated cork and wood from a beef processing plant. Student designs and artwork grace part of the wooden interior.
Willow School (Gladstone, New Jersey)
Founded in 2002 on 34 acres in Gladstone, New Jersey, the Willow School has been a leader in green building in the educational sector. The Health, Wellness and Nutrition Center addition, was built in 2013 along a central circulation spine, which opens the interior to light from the south, and features a low sloped roof lined with photovoltaic arrays.
Jess S. Jackson Sustainable Winery (Davis, California)
Named after the proprietor of Jackson Family Wines, this one-story, super-insulated sustainable winery sequesters the carbon dioxide utilized in the winemaking process, and recirculates rainwater and runoff to clean wine barrels. A solar-powered system even produces chilled water and ice. If it meets the requirements for the Living Building Challenge, it would be the first such building on a university campus in the United States.
Josey Pavilion (Decatur, TX)
Built with 100 percent salvaged wood and made to maintain a comfortable temperature in the muggy Texas climate without mechanical assistance, the Josey Pavilion is a meeting space that symbolizes the wider goals of the Dixon Water Foundation, which promotes healthy watersheds and sustainable ranching.
Zero-Energy Greenhouse (Boulder, CO)
Built at 7,800 feet, this zero-energy greenhouse utilizes solar cells and a storage system to keep the building off the grid (it can function for three days without a charge). A system of underground pipes works like a "living battery" as well, storing heat and recirculating it throughout the greenhouse.