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Green Building & Sustainable Development

Environmentally Sensitive Building Design with "Passive Cooling"

Weber + Thompson, a full-service architecture, interior design and planning firm is embracing sustainable design with their new office building - a building with a passive cooling and ventilation systems and hydronic heating. Located in South Lake Union, the building incorporates numerous sustainable features and the team will apply for LEED Gold certification. Weber + Thompson wanted a new office space that would accommodate their rapidly expanding staff and be an innovative example of the possibilities of sustainable design. The building is being developed by a partnership of Weber + Thompson's Principals - Scott Thompson AIA, Blaine Weber AIA, and Kristen Scott AIA - Stephen Grey & Assoc., and First Western Development Services. It is going in for the building permit July 20th and is scheduled to start construction January 2006.

Weber + Thompson - the principals and staff - have a vision of a headquarters that would provide a comfortable, healthy and creative work environment and would illustrate the firm's dedication to sustainable design. However, for a four-story commercial building natural ventilation is highly unusual and requires extensive thermal comfort modeling to determine what elements are necessary to achieve optimal comfort. Based on this and the daylight modeling, the building was designed to best utilize the principles of daylighting and natural ventilation. Shallow floor plates allow ventilation and natural light to penetrate both, from the inside, open air courtyard and from the exterior of the building. Thermally insulating the building and incorporating operable windows are crucial elements that ensure comfortable temperatures inside. The building tenants will have control over their environment by opening windows and adjusting thermostats on hydraulic radiators located under windows. High performance glazing with exterior shading will allow daylight to enter the space while significantly reducing solar heat gains.

Other sustainable elements in the building include: shower and change rooms for bicycle commuters, recirculating storm water from the roof and courtyard deck in a fountain, prominent exterior stairs to discourage elevator usage and promote physical fitness and a high-reflectance white roof to reduce the heat island effect. Structural elements, walls, aluminum windows and the curtain wall will contain a large percentage of recycled materials. Exterior cladding is made of rapidly renewable materials and indoor air quality is assured with low emitting materials such as low-VOC paints, adhesives and carpets.

All these sustainable elements require additional investment into the building. "This is something that was very important to us," states Weber + Thompson Principal Scott Thompson, AIA who is the Principal in charge of the project. "We realized that we couldn't design an office building for the private sector with the high level of sustainability we wanted unless we were willing to take on a share of risk and partner in the development." As it stands, the project is approximately 10% over the cost for a typical Class A office building, however much of this cost will be paid back in operating and maintenance savings later on.

The building is located at the corner of Terry and Thomas in South Lake Union. Its construction is steel frame with a window wall and curtain wall facades. The building is on the proposed streetcar line and one block from a station. The Terry Avenue side of the building will be developed into a pedestrian through way that will sew together South Lake Union connecting the under construction complex 2200 Westlake to the water.

The developers are looking for tenant who also embrace sustainability, and are developing a guidelines manual that explains the building's philosophy and sustainable features and encourages green operations and maintenance. For leasing information, contact Scott E. Thompson, AIA at 206 344-5700.

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