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Upping the Ante on Sustainable Buildings

April 15, 2013

An office is building in Seattle is taking the concept of sustainable building to a whole new level: Think LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification on steroids.

The New York Times recently profiled the building, called the Bullitt Center after the Bullitt Foundation that is the primary backer of the project. The Bullitt Center is taking part in the Living Building Challenge, which includes a more rigorous vetting process than LEED with the expectation that the increased scrutiny will lead to better performance metrics after construction.

In short, the Bullitt Center hopes to avoid the problems that some LEED-certified buildings have faced: operating efficiencies that fall short of expectations.

The organizations and businesses behind Bullitt Center, scheduled to open later this month on Earth Day, hope to unveil a carbon-neutral office building that is also commercially viable. Its features include no on-site parking, composting toilets, and even painfully slow elevators that encourage occupants to use the stairs.

When it comes to the energy performance of a building, you can't get away from the basics. Despite the buzz around the Bullitt Center's green "living building" qualities, the simple fact is that it's the careful management of the basics - heating, cooling, lighting and water use - that help the Bullitt Center, or any building, achieve a high performance building outcome.

At Trane, we use financial, operating and energy analysis to ensure that the high performance buildings that we service meet specific standards for water and energy use, system reliability and uptime, environmental compliance, and occupant comfort and safety.

No matter what the next generation of green benchmarks include, such as carbon neutrality or energy neutrality, the core tenets of energy efficiency will be critical to achieving high performance building outcomes for the foreseeable future.