Biting the Bullitt Center
In the second half of Sustainable Industries' one-on-one Q&A with ecosystem services expert Kevin Halsey, our interview subject gets specific about ecosystem services in the built environment through the lens of Seattle’s celebrated Bullitt Center, a candidate to meet the rigorous Living Building Challenge – not to mention it's self-proclaimed status as the "greenest commercial building in the world." To read Part 1, in which Halsey breaks down why ecosystem services are not just about "monetizing nature," click here.
Sustainable Industries recently partnered with the University of Oregon's Sustainability Leadership Program, where Halsey is an instructor, to both produce and distribute a multi-media content series focused on topical content emerging from the curriculum. As a reader of Sustainable Industries, you're eligible to receive $50 off Kevin Halsey's May 14 workshop, "Integrative Land Use Planning: Collaborative Tools for Optimizing Performance." Simply click here to register.
SI: You’ve been working on an approach for defining, quantifying, and communicating ecosystem services in the built environment through the lens of Seattle’s Bullitt Center, which is a candidate to meet the rigorous Living Building Challenge. What does the Bullitt Center contribute in significant and measurable ways to the regeneration of its surrounding neighborhood and the broader Puget Sound region?
KH: The Bullitt Center is an amazing building and certainly is providing tangible benefits to the Capitol Hill neighborhood in which it is located. The building is beautiful, and has already become a destination for those that want to see and experience it for themselves. The whole neighborhood benefits from the buildings growing prestige and the green building tourists it is drawing – me among them.
In addition, the building significantly improves the resilience of the neighborhood. The provisioning services within the building are all either natural or replicate the distributed nature of ecosystem services. This means that should disaster strike, the Bullitt Center may be one of the few buildings in the region still functioning.
The buildings benefits also ripple out across Puget Sound – for example, since the building obtains all its fresh water from rainfall, it is not contributing to the water withdrawals that lead to hydrograph disruptions in other parts of the watershed. This is just one of the many ways the building has eliminated externalities, which reduces the pressure on ecological conditions in other parts of the watershed.
However, ultimately, the true significance of the building is that it demonstrates what can be accomplished and helps to pave the way for more and better Living Buildings in the future.