Greener than LEED? 1st FSC Project Certified Commercial Building

By Bill Esler | Posted: 04/03/2013 6:54AM


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See the FSC Project Certified Bullitt Center slide show.

SEATTLE – As the first heavy-timber office building in Seattle since the early 1900s prepares to open, it is being called "greener than LEED."  The 50,000 square foot six-story building is certified under the Living Building Challenge program rather than LEED.

Seattle's Bullitt Center is the first heavy-timber construction office building built in Seattle since the early 1900s. The six-story timber frame, steel and glass building features lots of exposed wood, much of it native FSC-certified  Douglas fir that helped qualify the project as the first commercial building in the U.S. to earn Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Project Certification.

Developers say that as the commercial builders look to wood as a climate-friendly material, the Bullitt Center shows it’s possible to build entirely with wood, in this case from responsibly managed forests.

General contractor Schuchart Corp., procured wood products from Matheus Lumber in Woodinville, WA, including Glulam timbers from Calvert Glulam, dimensional lumber from Potlatch, small timbers from Elk Creek Forest products, structural plywood from Roseburg Forest Products and recycled lumber from Rhine Demolition.

“When it comes from a FSC certified forest, wood is arguably the most environmentally friendly building material,” said Bullitt Foundation CEO, Denis Hayes. “When we looked at the wood, FSC was the only way to go.”

The building, which opens April 22 - Earth Day - features many other green qualities such as geothermal heating piped through floor grids, and solar panels on its roof.

It's life cycle of 250 years means that tons of carbon will remain sequestered in its heavy timber structure, which is what lead the design team to choose wood after weighing other building materials.

The FSC Project Certification was conducted by Soil Association Woodmark conducted the onsite audits and certification of the Bullitt Center’s core and shell (Certificate Registration Code: SA-PRO-003818).

The Bullitt Center developers say the Living Building Challenge is the most rigorous benchmark for sustainability, requiring all wood to be FSC certified or from salvaged sources. As a result, there is a natural opportunity for projects pursuing Living Building status to also earn FSC Project Certification.

With deforestation still a problem in the U.S. and around the world, FSC Project Certification provides third-party assurance that all wood is from responsible sources, and it allows the Bullitt Center to use the FSC logo in public communications.


About the Author

Bill Esler, Woodworking Network, WMS

Bill Esler

Bill Esler, Editorial Director, Woodworking Network Bill is responsible for overall content at Woodworking Network magazine, and related newsletters. Bill also manages event programs for Woodworking Network Live conferences at the Woodworking Machinery & Supplies Expo in Toronto and Cabinets & Closets Expo. He developing audience engagement programs using custom digital printing, live lead-generating events, custom websites, and custom digital and print content. Read Bill Esler's woodworking blogs. He can be reached at or follow him on Google+.

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