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Bullitt Foundation, a heavy hitter in the Northwest's environmental movement, will wind down its giving

Hal Bernton and Evan Bush, The Seattle Times on

Published in News & Features

The $32.5 million building, designed to last 250 years, was a big investment for the foundation, with Hayes hoping it would serve as a model that would spur more innovation in the building industry.

The center, which is fully leased and has operated profitably, relies on geothermal wells for radiant heating. Outdoor blinds automatically tilt at various angles to regulate the interior temperature. Solar panels power the building, with excess electricity sent to Seattle City Light's grid. Rainwater on the roof, collected in a 56,000-gallon cistern, provides drinking water.

The interior design, spare and modern with cozy wood complements, leaves visitors with the impression they might be an interloper in an Apple commercial.

In an interview, Gov. Jay Inslee described the center as the "Taj Mahal of energy efficiency" and an "absolute monument." Inslee said the structure likely helped persuade lawmakers this session to pass a bill he supported to create new energy standards for large buildings.

Hayes still takes pride in the building that he made sure "walks the talk" of environmentalism.

In winter, Hayes sometimes traverses its concrete floors in socks to enjoy the radiant heat. On a hot summer day, it's comfortable, even without air conditioning.

The building's loan will be paid off soon, Hayes said. Some tenants will be phased out when their leases expire.


The foundation plans to fill the office with environmental organizations, activists and like-minded organizations and charge "dramatically reduced rates" on rent, he said.

This final bet on the movement's future will be the foundation's legacy.

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