Grist article: How one building is changing the world

It used to be that the Bullitt Foundation “saved the planet” the old-fashioned way, putting its money behind campaigns to spare old-growth forests, stop mines in Alaska, and clean up toxic waste. Not anymore. The Seattle-based foundation, started by local media magnate Dorothy Bullitt, has turned its attention to cities, funding projects in urban ecology, clean energy, and technology.

And recently, Bullitt tried a new tack for changing the world: It built something. Not just any something: It’s what the foundation’s CEO, Denis Hayes, calls “the most efficient office building in the world, and likely the most efficient building in the world, period.”

The much ballyhooed Bullitt Center features a canopy of solar panels that generates all of the electricity used on site; a green roof seeded with micro-organisms that captures and cleans rainwater; giant floor-to-ceiling windows that open and close automatically to regulate the temperature; and a fleet of composting toilets that looks like an army of Daleks in the basement.

And roughly a year and a half after it opened for business, the building is making waves as effectively as any grant could have done.

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