The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation can be found in downtown Seattle. The building, completed in March 2011, is a model of sustainable design and it is famous for the purpose it serves – helping people throughout the entire world. The foundation received the LEED-NC Platinum Certification yesterday making the building the first non profit structure in the world to ever win this award.
It is a 639,860 sq ft campus and it faces Space Needle. It’s a 7 years long project and the structure has 2 acres of living roofs, it stores 1 million gallons of rainwater and other sustainable designs, making use of solar systems, too. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation sits on a former asphalt parking lot. Margaret Montgomery is the main designer from the NBBJ team and she says that the team aimed for the LEED Silver to be in accordance with the City of Seattle’s green building mandate.
She was heard saying that “the best solutions were also the greenest” hinting to the choice of using sustainable designs in the building’s structure. And how did the team and foundation win the LEED Platinum?
The answer is very simple. In order to cool buildings the stored water is chilled during night time to be used during the day. This can be done with the help of a 750-thousand gallon water storage system, minimizing the energy as much as possible. Lighting is provided using delighting sensors.
The hot water is brought in the buildings with the use of 47 evacuated tube solar collectors on the roof. The natural ventilation and the high performance glazing contribute to the sustainable design. All these elements help reduce energy use up to 40% and this strategy will make the investment pay for itself in about 30 years.
The designers didn’t want to waste too much water and to save it from depletion or pollution they found the perfect solution to protect the standards and principles of the project: water conservation with the use of water plumbing fixtures. The living roofs help absorb and collect most of the rainwater. What’s left of the water is redirected back in the underground 1 million gallon cistern. All these systems help reduce the potable water use by 80%.
The chief administrative officer for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Martha Choe, explained that one of the major challenges the team had to deal with was to find recycled materials. They hired contractors from the area to help the local economy increase and their campaign paid off in the end.