Environment
8:03 am
Wed January 30, 2013

How green can you go? Seattle celebrates Deep Green building

Seattle is leading the way in environmentally-sound building design. Sweden’s international construction firm Skanska has broken ground on a building in Fremont that promises to bring a whole new level of green to the city. 

It’s the pilot project for a City of Seattle program, called Deep Green, that exceeds the top level of more-common LEED standards for sustainability. Stone34, as the building is named, promises to use 75% less energy and water than comparable structures.

It will be the new global headquarters for Brooks Sports, Inc., which is moving from Bothell. The shoe company was attracted to the building’s “urban trailhead” design, with wide sidewalks, outdoor seating and bike rails about a block from the Burke Gilman Trail. The Deep Green designation is an added bonus; Brooks has been adding more sustainable products to its line up and says the building fits right in with its branding.

At the groundbreaking on the muddy lot where a kite store and Subway sandwich shop were once located, Skanska VP Lisa Picard thanked the city for creating the new designation.

“I’ve actually had colleagues of mine at Skanska in Finnland, in Denmark, in Sweden, in Poland ask how the heck can we get our cities to create incentives to do these kinds of things and actually incentivize us to do the right thing,” Picard said.

The Deep Green designation is a sub-set of the city’s Living Buildings program. Structures meeting that standard are so efficient, they use only power generated on-site and rainwater runoff for their operations. Seattle’s Bullitt Foundation and Bertschi School buildings have qualified.

Stone 34 isn’t energy independent, but meets 60 percent of other criteria for the Living Building program. And the developers say it could eventually become a Living Building, through user behavior.

Qualifying as Deep Green meant they got special exemptions from city building codes allowing a fifth story of office space. This caused controversy among some environmentalists and neighborhood groups. The new building will block some views in Fremont and Wallingford. 

But most of the opposition has gone quiet now. The developers and other boosters say they hope Stone34 will inspire more builders in the region to go the extra mile for green design. 

Cathy Tuttle is Executive Director of Seattle Neighborhood Greenways and also volunteers for the neighborhood group, Sustainable Wallingford. She says the community is looking forward to a greener future. 

"We really appreciate all the effort, the attention to detail that this project is going to bring. And it's going to be a model for other buildings around the area and around the region," Tuttle said at the groundbreaking.

Jessica Vets with the Fremont Chamber of Commerce echoed that sentiment, adding that they're excited about the new jobs and vibrant retail spaces the new project will bring to the neighborhood.