The Bullitt Foundation, an environmental nonprofit that works toward more sustainable building practices, has begun work on the largest “living” office space in existence located in downtown Seattle, according to U.S. News.
The Bullitt Center, which will be the name of the building once completed, has registered with the Living Building Challenge, which has stricter criteria for qualification than Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).
While a far more drastic measure than most individuals can afford to take, the Bullitt Foundation has still managed to emphasize the need for change in people’s perceptions about sustainability. Environmental behavior no longer should be viewed as a political statement, but rather a way of life. Not due to eminent fears of dire consequences caused by climate change and the doom of humanity, but simple cost benefit analysis.
For example, WSU has made moves toward green building construction, receiving an A from the College Sustainability Report Card for bringing three buildings up to LEED standards.
Profit does not exist as just currency. Concepts such as people having a high quality of life, access to clean water and even the beauty of an untouched landscape has its own unique value. These concepts do not have a price tag that can be placed on them, but their absence would be easily recognized and sorely missed.
The Bullitt Center has illustrated how building construction can help participate in this movement toward a more sustainable way of living. In its case, the building’s roof consists of one massive conjunction of solar panels and also contains drains that lead to underground cisterns that hold 56,000 gallons of water, which the building then uses. The building still has to be connected to the power grid so that during the winter, when the solar panels do not function properly, the building does not blackout, but during the summer months it generates so much electricity that it produces power for the grid.
Another example are roof-top gardens, which can provide installation and cut costs toward air-conditioning and heating while helping produce oxygen and filter contaminates from water, according to the National Research Council of Canada.
A study showed that during a summer day, where the temperature outside stayed at 95 degrees Fahrenheit, a building with a roof top garden remained at a pleasant 77 degrees, thereby saving the occupants money on air conditioning.
While these types of additions may seem expensive in the short term, the long-term benefits of zero electricity or water costs will eventually pay for themselves. Thus, people need to start changing their way of thinking about green technology. Instead of sacrificing to help save the environment, in actuality individuals need to be living in conjunction with nature in a way that benefits both humanity and the world. If you are still reading this, you already are a hippie so this does not apply to you.
WSU has only three buildings that meet LEED’s silver certified standards. These features include environmentally-friendly cleaning products, water metering to conserve water, weather-informed irrigation, energy-efficient lighting and electric and steam metering.
Needless to say, much could still be done to make WSU even more green efficient. Putting up solar panels around campus and creating roof top gardens would be great, keeping in mind that while these projects may seem extravagant in the short term, they pay for themselves.