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You Can No Longer Argue That Green Makes No Sense

Seattle Sustainability
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The financial argument for sustainability has become more compelling for developers and owners now that the development community has more examples about how buildings can be more efficient, says The City of Seattle’s Sustainable Building Program manager Sandra Malloy, continuing coverage of our Seattle Sustainability Summit. There’s more of a track record to look at now, she says, with case studies from a year after a green building has been developed to even five years. The data is proving the point that sustainable features generally lower operating costs.

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Vulcan Real Estate residential development manager Brandon Morgan, who’s on the Seattle 2030 board and manages Vulcan’s benchmarking for its entire portfolio (not just the residential properties), says that one of his roles as a 2030 board member is evangelist, preaching sustainable success stories—even a competitor. Developers can complete on price, amenities, and all the other features, he believes, but they shouldn’t compete on sustainability—obtaining new knowledge and experience should be collaborative. “In sustainability, a rising tide lifts all boats.”  

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Unico director of sustainability Brett Phillips tells us that a number of the company’s projects are pushing the sustainable envelope: a LEED Platinum project in Boulder using self-tinting electrochromic glass (smart glass), another one in the Ballard neighborhood with native vegetation, and a large photovoltaic system on a multi-tenant building in Denver. He says the Bullitt Center, which Unico manages, has been a change agent for Seattle: It’s brought together new materials, techniques, and regulation innovations, all of which are paving the way for a much greener future for Seattle-area properties. 

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DLR group senior sustainability analyst Amarpreet Sethi, who’s working on a jail, schools, and other facilities, says that sewage heat recovery, which is going to be a part of the jail's sustainable features, is a source of renewable energy that shouldn’t be overlooked. First sewage is run through a filter (because it’s sewage, after all), then it’s pumped through a heat exchange system. A sophisticated heat pump removes the heat and transfers it to pipes for other use. It’s an up-and-coming idea, she says, with King County interested in piloting sewage heat recovery projects.

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GSA deputy director for the office of Federal High-Performance Green Buildings Don Horn says his office is working on climate adaptation planning for federal facilities, among other initiatives. He also says he’s a big advocate of reusing older properties or elements of older properties. The most exciting project he’s worked on recently is the redevelopment of Wayne Aspinall Courthouse in Colorado, vintage 1915, which will soon be the first net-zero property of its kind in the country. “The challenge was how to add modern sustainable tech while keeping the historic characteristics,” he says.