Alex notes that just meeting the high standards of the Living Building Challenge is tough, almost impossible.
We won't know if the building actually does meet the challenge for another year, since LBC reads the meters to ensure that it really is net zero energy and net zero water. Normally, landlords don't have a lot of control over how much power tenants use, so Alex explains how tenants have to buy into the program.
Achieving LBC certification is very hard. Since the launch of the program seven years ago only a handful of buildings have achieved full certification (4 and counting), and another half-dozen have been recognized for achieving LBC requirements in individual petals. When it comes to larger, multi-story office buildings, the requirements for LBC have seemed almost out of the realm of possibility—at least until now.
Power consumption for electric lighting and plug loads (computers and other devices that plug into outlets) is kept low in part through a unique, internal “cap-and-trade” system in which tenants have specific energy budgets. If they use less electricity than their budget, they can trade with other tenants in the building who may need more. Tenants sign a thick contract that includes penalties if their energy budgets are exceeded.
Some of the cost information about the building was surprising; Alex writes that it only cost about $ 50 per square foot more than a conventional Class A building to construct, at $ 355 PSF. That doesn't seem like much of a premium at all for a building that is designed to last 250 years and has so many green features. I think that is light; Reed construction data say that Seattle 5-10 storey office buildings cost $ 193 per square foot to build, but that is an average, not top of the line Class-A. But I think this building is cheap at twice the price. Alex concludes:
The Bullit Center is indeed a milestone building—I believe one of the most important commercial buildings of the past 50 years.
That's not faint praise from someone who knows his green building. Wow. More at BuildingGreen