Radiant in Commercial

The Bullitt Center wins sustainability award with radiant heating

Wed, 01/08/2014 - 11:02

You'll be hard pressed to find an office building as eco-friendly as the Bullitt Center anywhere in the U.S. As one of the greenest offices in the world, this Seattle-based six-story structure has leveraged a multitude of technologies and architectural strategies that have made it more energy-efficient and self-sufficient than similar buildings in the area. As the headquarters of an environmental foundation, the aim in building this center was to keep energy and water consumption low while creating a healthy, comfortable work environment for employees. To meet this challenge, designers had to maximize thermal performance and minimize any waste with an efficient radiant heating system. The payoff has been impressive: Not only has the Bullitt Center kept spending under control, but World Architecture News also recently named it the "Sustainable Building of the Year.""There was obviously a deep commitment and collaboration from client, public agencies and full multidisciplinary design team to making important new discoveries for sustainable design," said judge Mark Reddington of LMN architects, as quoted by Earth Techling.The Bullitt Center was up against five other buildings for these honors and was the only finalist in the U.S. The award is certainly well-deserved.Pushing boundaries
Architects, engineers, contractors, developers and designers all had to go beyond conventional strategies to create this unique environmentally-friendly building, and the radiant heating system played a major part in these plans. This system can heat the space via pipes in the floors, which is more cost-effective and environmentally-friendly than a traditional circulation method that releases hot air through ventilation ducts. Throughout the designing and building process, the team was aiming to meet lofty goals for sustainability that were established by the Bullitt Foundation. Would it be possible for the building to fulfill these initiatives while also keeping costs down?Indeed, the project was an ambitious one, but successful as well. According to 2030 Palette, the Bullitt Center has achieved an energy use intensity of 16 kBtu, which represents an impressive 83 percent reduction in energy use when compared to a typical office building in Seattle's Capitol Hill. A major reason that the building was able to reach its initial goals is that all of the energy is produced onsite. Panels on the roof of the building generate extra electricity in the summer, which can then be counterbalanced by energy consumption in the winter. The result? A net zero energy building.Heat pumps produce additional energy for heating and cooling, which is then emitted through radiant heating systems in the concrete floors. 2030 Palette reported that the Bullitt Center has been able to minimize heat loss through a 65 percent effective recovery system.A green future
It's no surprise that the Bullitt Center was able to break new ground in the green building realm. Denis Hayes, president of the Bullitt Foundation, was behind the project from start to finish. Not only is Hayes the co-founder of the very first Earth Day, he's also worked on major eco-friendly initiatives such as installing solar panels in the White House."Once somebody proves something is possible, it becomes thinkable," Hayes stated, according to Seattle PI.Hayes also reportedly admitted that he hopes the Bullitt Center will "help transform the way we build, here and around the world."