Editorial: Bullitt Center Sets a New Standard

The Bullitt Center on opening day generated more energy than it consumed. The Seattle sun charged the facility’s rooftop solar panels and sent the excess energy back into Seattle City Light’s power grid. Being touted as the “greenest commercial building in the world,” and built to meet the Living Building standards of green engineering, the Bullitt Center is a technological feat.

On top of that, it looks great. Perched up on Madison, it’s one of the sleekest and most attractive buildings in the city. Oftentimes the environmental movement descends into shame-games and finger wagging, braying people for not recycling enough or doom saying to motivate change. What’s great about the Bullitt Center is that it makes green look and feel way cooler than the current status quo. Rather than making people feel as though the have to go green, or ought to go green, the Bullitt Center will make people want to go green. When you have a building with wastewater treated onsite and converted to compost, supplying its own drinking water through rain cisterns, and robotic windows designed to conserve heat, who wouldn’t want to get with the picture? It looks and feels like the future. It’s a place people will want to be.

When it comes to motivating people, you have the stick or the carrot. You can swat people into submission, or you can encourage them with tangible, visible rewards. The Bullitt Center is the carrot the environmental movement in America has needed—something in front of us that we can all aspire to.