Bertschi School Science Wing Certified as Fourth Living Building in the World

The science wing of the Bertschi School, an independent elementary school near downtown Seattle, Washington, is now a fully certified Living Building. Completed in 2011, the 3,380 square foot Living Building Science Wing is the first Living Building on the West Coast and the world’s fourth fully-certified Living Building. This is the first built project to meet the standards of version 2.0 of the Living Building Challenge℠ (LBC), operated by the International Living Future Institute℠.

As part of the LBC, a Living Building must generate all of its own energy through clean, renewable resources; capture and treat its own water; incorporate only non-toxic, appropriately sourced materials; and operate efficiently. The building must also perform as designed for one full year of occupancy and pass a third-party audit before receiving certification as “Living”.

GeoEngineers was part of the Restorative Design Collective, a mutli-disciplinary pro-bono team led by KMD Architects and compromised of Pacific Northwest green building professionals. GeoEngineers provided geotechnical engineering services, stormwater solutions and a ground source heat pump feasibility evaluation. GeoEngineers also provided observations services during construction.

The Science Wing is located in an urban community and includes an ethnobotanical garden. Its building products do not contain any materials or chemicals included on the LBC Red List. The building’s sustainable features include net-zero energy and water; a 20 kilowatt photovoltaic system that provides all of the electricity, and cisterns collect rainwater used for irrigation and flushing the composting toilet. Other features include an on-site rain garden, green roof and interior living wall of tropical plants.

Dave Cook, LG, CPG, GeoEngineers’ principal for the Bertschi project, said, “It’s truly exciting being part of an innovative team of scientists and engineers. The Bertschi Living Building project is a demonstration of what can happen with visionary leadership. GeoEngineers is proud to have been able to provide our expertise in water management, earth engineering and alternative energy solutions.”

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