Solar panels and windows with brains don’t do all the work. The tenants have roles too. While getting real-time readings of energy consumption, tenants can make proactive choices to cut down on consumption, such as choosing a Macbook Air laptop that pulls less energy than a 100-watt bulb, offering exponential savings versus a desktop. Taking the stairs is another small contribution tenants can make. The stairwell offers views of downtown Seattle and local mountains, while the elevator is tucked in the back of the building.
In addition tenants are part of a cap-and-trade system. The system allows them each an energy budget that is transferable to other tenants, so that they will be able to “buy” more energy if they desire. But it comes at a cost—say, sacrificing one of those coveted bicycle slots.
Such achievements show that what some people thought were wild ideas actually work, says Mary Ann Lazarus, sustainability director at architectural firm HOK, who isn’t associated with the project. On a wide range of scales—from rainwater in coffee pots to tinkering with whole supply chains—the example of the Bullitt Center, she says, demonstrates “new out-of-the-box creative solutions” that adapt to the building’s local environment.