Sustainable Architecture

The philosophy behind sustainable architecture is one that seeks to take architecture to a new level. Sustainable architecture involves inculcating architectural designs that are conscious of the environment and the impact that a building has on the environment. It mainly focuses on the relationship between building designs and their sustainability in consideration of the current political and economic state of the world. Sustainable architecture is driven by the will to reduce the detrimental effects of buildings on the environment. To begin with, it emphasizes on increasing building efficiency through proper utilization of construction materials, efficient energy consumption as well as the proper use of developmental space. Sustainable architecture therefore seeks to ensure that the design and construction of buildings are considerate of the environment and the protection of it for future generations. The Bullit Center provides a good case study for sustainable architecture. An analysis of how the building is sustainable as well as the success it has had in implementing its sustainability features will be discussed. Finally, the reasons why the building has been a success in implementing its sustainability goals will be highlighted.

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There are several parameters that are used when considering the sustainability of a building. These parameters are based on the efficient use of energy, the use of building materials that are sustainable, waste management, and placement of the building. It is these parameters that a building is subjected to in order to determine its sustainability and the impact it has on the environment in which it is located. Therefore, it is upon these parameters that the Bullit Center is measured to determine its success as a sustainable building.

One of the major considerations of sustainable architecture is energy efficiency. There are several techniques that are applied by architects in order to achieve optimum energy efficiency of a building. Therefore, in order for a building to be considered sustainable, it must be highly energy efficient. The energy efficiency of the building is measured by taking into consideration the efficiency of cooling, heating, and ventilation systems. Additionally, it includes the use of renewable sources of energy. The Bullit Center is no exception. In order to be considered as highly energy efficient, the building has several properties that ensure optimum energy efficiency. Bullit Center has a wide range of photovoltaic solar panels on its expansive rooftop. These cells have been arranged in such a manner that they extend over and beyond the building for maximum energy efficiency. These cells are able to produce more than 230000 kWh of electrical energy every year. Therefore, despite the fact that the building is connected to the main electricity grid, which is of importance, especially during the winter season, the energy used is easily compensated for by the solar panels. As a result of this, the building is able to achieve energy neutrality. This has made the Bullit Center become highly energy efficient. In fact, when compared to other commercial buildings of similar size, the Bullit Center is 83% more energy efficient. Additionally, the building’s floor panels had insulation mats placed over them. These mats offered a convenient noise barrier. On top of these were concrete topping slabs that were three inches thick. Each of these was meant to offer the required thermal mass. They would then facilitate night flushing and the ventilation of the building. Night flushing is a highly efficient strategy that is used to save energy. Its principle of operation is to flush out the building’s hot air in the evening and cool the objects with thermal mass, thereby blowing out hot and stale air. The slabs that were used in the building also included coils that were radiant heating.

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The use of sustainable building materials forms an important classification criterion for sustainable buildings. The Bullit Center embodies this principle by making use of wood as the main construction material. To begin with, the choice of wood over steel and concrete was based on the intended lifespan of the building. The Bullit Center is expected to last for 250 years. Bullit Center is heavily founded on wood. The structure comprises a podium that is six stories high. Two-base stories are made of concrete, while the top four stories are made of wood. The wooden floors of the top four stories are made of category IV heavy duty timber frames. The frames are made of Douglas-fir columns and beams which have been given a fine industrial grade finish appearance. The sizes of these frames range between 12-1/4x21 to 5-1/8x15 inches. The floors are made of lumber wood with the dimensions 2x6. Additionally, the center’s roof top comprises 2x4 inches of wood nailed side by side. However, CDX plywood has been utilized for the floor diaphragms, wall panels are well as the roof. From a sustainability point of view, the use of wood over concrete frames makes the building leave much less carbon footprint than concrete. The use of timber provided a building solution that was carbon-positive. Additionally, by using timber, there would be a major reduction for the need of interior finishing. This eliminated the need for the use of toxic finishing materials such as varnishes and paint. The use of wood also provided an architectural edge. Since the region is synonymous with wood, a wooden building would fit in with the environment.

The Bullit Center is also efficient in waste management and self-sustenance. The building has reservoirs of water that have a capacity of 56000 gallons of water. Additionally, the center has a treatment and disinfection system that makes the collected water healthy for consumption. In addition to the water collection system, the building has a set of toilets that are aerobic composters. The building’s composters worked to service the waste and recycle everything that could be recycled back into the system. As a result of the high level of efficiency at which the composters work, the extraction process is odorless and takes considerable time before requiring an extraction.

Apart from the sustainability of the building, Bullit Center has been able to pin its success as an architectural due to its aesthetic prominence. The building has its ceiling exposed along with the upper floors. It also has a stairway covered in glass and offers a panoramic view of Puget Sounds and downtown. Additionally, there are regular ‘tech-points,’ where visitors can use their smartphones to scan and get more information about a particular section of the building. In line with the building’s energy conservation efforts, visitors and occupants are encouraged to use the stairway rather than the lift. In line with this, the lift is placed slightly further off and moves at a reduced speed. Furthermore, each occupant of the building has an energy usage cap which, if they exceed, they will be required to pay for the extra units consumed.

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From the discussion, the building is a huge success in terms of its sustainability. From the highly efficient waste management process to the use of renewable energy sources to the utilization of locally available construction materials makes the building highly successful. It is evident that the building pushes sustainability to the limit with the aim of conforming architectural designs and construction to the environment.

In conclusion, from the above discussion, it is evident that the Bullit Center is a landmark in the field of sustainable architecture. It has set standards that clearly demonstrate the feasibility of designing and constructing sustainable commercial buildings. The building has been able to incorporate features that ensure it is environmentally friendly. The focus on the efficient use of energy, use of building materials that are sustainable, waste management and placement of the building, have been appropriately implemented. It is in this light that the building stands as a concept to be emulated and propagated for the good of the environment and development of architecture.

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