Category Archives: Seattle

Take look at the “world’s greenest office tower”



Tom Paladino’s company was on the design team for the Tower at PNC in Pittsburgh and he says the project changed his life.

The Tower at PNC in Pittsburgh is being billed as the greenest office tower in the world. It has a skin that breaths, a solar chimney, a park in the sky, wood-clad porch doors, indicators that tell you what the weather is outside, and something called The Beacon – an interactive light sculpture that broadcasts data about how much energy the building is using.

The tower is shifted on the podium and street grid for maximum sun exposure.  A double-walled “breathable” facade provides a thermal buffer while allowing air to pass through.

Operable Skin, The Tower at PNC

Operable Skin, PNC Tower

So what’s a solar chimney? It’s a vertical shaft with a rooftop solar collection panel that creates an updraft that draws cool outside air through the skin, across the floors, and up and out of the building, without requiring fans, for almost half the year.

A “living room” space links every two floors of the building, and a five-story indoor park offers views of downtown Pittsburgh.

The Park at The Tower at PNC

The Park at PNC Tower

Paladino acted as owner’s representative on sustainability and LEED management issues.  The 800,000-square-foot, 33-story building was designed by Gensler to reflect PNC’s commitment to green building, energy efficiency and innovation.

The design and systems will help reduce energy consumption by 50 percent and reduce water use by 77 percent compared with a typical office building, Paladino said.

“It was ridiculously simple, and at the same time,  a challenge in its aspiration,” said Tom Paladino in his blog post on the tower.

“LEED shifted from being the purpose of the green building program to being one of the desired results. We moved to a higher purpose, creating a headquarters that would serve PNC as another tool of the business.”

The building was designed to be “the most progressive workplace ever and to attract a highly social, digitally native, and an environmentally conscious work force,” Paladino said.

The Tower at PNC is built green for future generations to enjoy.

The tower cost $400 million.

ESI Design's Beacon at PNC Tower

ESI Design’s Beacon at PNC Tower

Outdoor space at PNC Tower

Outdoor space at PNC Tower

The Tower at PNC

The Tower at PNC

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Seattle Lowrise Zones Now Have a Passive House Incentive to Add Floor Area

The following post is by Joe Giampietro, AIA, CPHC, NK Architects

11th and Republican PH Multifamily Rendering

On July 6th, the Seattle City Council passed a number of revisions to the low-rise zone land use code, including adding Passive House as a way to achieve floor area ratio (FAR) bonuses.

A FAR bonus allows for an increase in building height relative to the area of the lot. Passive House efficiency principles lead to significant energy savings, increased project value, and improved health and comfort for those that live there.

Although this was a minor addition to an otherwise hotly debated set of low-rise zoning updates, this addresses building energy use in a practical and cost effective manner. It is a big move in the right direction.

With the addition of Passive House to the other “green” incentive programs, including LEED Silver, Built Green 4-Star, and the Washington Evergreen Sustainable Development Standards for affordable housing, Seattle has started down the road of recognizing and providing incentives for truly high-performance, low energy design strategies.

Next on the list of legislative actions, the Passive House community is working with the Seattle City Council to consider expanding the Passive House incentive to include both current certification agencies, PHIUS and the Passive House Institute. We have successfully lobbied City Councilman, Mike O’Brien’s staff to include this adjustment in the “omnibus” zoning legislation. The expansion language is currently wending its way through the Council approval process and will be voted on later this summer.

We anticipate that this action will serve as a model for other changes in zoning legislation in Seattle as well as in cities and towns in throughout the Northwest. Let’s take a moment to celebrate one small step in this process!

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New earthwork blooms at 1250 Denny


“ALL RISE’s 2421 Miles,” is a new site-specific 52,000-square-foot earthwork by New York artist Molly Dilworth at 1250 Denny Way, the future site of Seattle City Light’s Denny Substation.

The Seattle Office of Arts & Culture says it uses over 400 cubic yards of dirt and 182 pounds of wildflower and grass seed to create a living “urban meadow.” There are 14 individual garden beds, each with a specific colorway.

The work is based on pattern studies from national flags, corporate logos and traditional patterns found along the sea trade route between Seattle and New York.

The city said Dilworth has traveled between New York and Seattle as a freelance worker for a global technology company. The work is named for that commute – the number of miles between the airports of Seattle and New York – made possible by modern global trade.

The Office of Arts & Culture said in a press release:

“As shipping and port technologies evolved over the last century, formerly industrial areas such as South Lake Union have been redeveloped. In a short time this lot on Denny will be a power station serving the demands of the new buildings; ALL RISE has used this temporary space to mark a transition between the last century and ours. The geometric edges of the garden will soften and evolve as it grows, just as our built environment and technologies do: imperceptibly, right in front of our eyes and seemingly all at once.

“The project was realized with the design assistance of Walker Macy (Portland and Seattle) as well as expertise and custom mixes from ProTime Lawn Seed, and the advice of SunMark Seeds.

ALL RISE is a series of temporary artworks at 1250 Denny Way. The goal is to provide a platform for artists to consider “the many iterations of land and space: residential, political, commercial, agricultural, spiritual, intellectual, utopian.” It is funded by Seattle City Light 1% for Art funds, and administered by the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture.

The project will stay through mid-June. You can view online webcams at

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Getting ready for new stormwater rules

Herrera is testing to see whether new soil mixes can remove
more heavy metals and other pollutants from stormwater.

Herrera is conducting groundbreaking research to assess and optimize the performance of LID systems.

Herrera is conducting groundbreaking research to assess and optimize the performance of LID systems.

With all the cranes towering overhead in downtown Seattle, it’s easy to forget the important work going on below to manage and protect our water as the region grows.

To keep pace with this growth, Washington State is pioneering the use of new and innovative approaches for stormwater management.  As of next year all development projects must use low impact development (LID) techniques or green stormwater infrastructure where feasible.  Rain gardens, bioswales, green roofs, and permeable pavement will become the norm rather than the exception.

As the region makes this new investment to protect our water, everyone – regulators, project owners, designers, and the general public included – will want to be confident these technologies are providing the intended benefit.

Herrera Environmental Consultants, Inc. is conducting groundbreaking research to assess and optimize the performance of these systems.

For example, with grant funding from the Washington State Department of Ecology, Herrera is currently implementing two research projects to develop a more effective soil media for use in bioretention systems.

In partnership with Kitsap County, one of these projects has involved numerous pilot scale tests of soil media components and blends to optimize their removal of heavy metals and other harmful pollutants from stormwater.

Herrera has also partnered with the City of Redmond to construct a state-of-the-art research facility for evaluating pollutant removal and plant growth in bioretention systems at full-scale.

Herrera Environmental Consultants, Inc. is an employee-owned engineering and scientific firm focused on restoration, water, and sustainable development.  Herrera is committed to working with our clients to develop innovative and sustainable solutions for infrastructure, natural resources, and stormwater projects.  Herrera was recently featured as “favorite green collar company” by the Seattle Times.

For more information:
Melissa Buttin, Senior Marketing,  206.787.8248

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McKinstry honors its favorite teams

McKinstry, Avista Corp

Front row: Dan Thompson (McKinstry) Back row (left to right): Paul Zasada (McKinstry), Dennis Vermillion (President of Avista Utilities); Scott Morris (CEO & President and Chair of the Board, Avista Corp); Dean Allen (CEO McKinstry), Mireya Fitzloff (McKinstry), Eric Bowles (Avista Head of Facilities) and Rod Staton (Avista Facilities).

McKinstry is honoring its clients for their commitment to sustainability. Each is called a “Champion of Sustainability” and is presented with an award at a Seahawks home game.

The next winner, The Allen Institute for Brain Science, will be honored at the November 2nd Seahawks game against the Raiders. The award goes to Vulcan Real Estate, GLY Construction, Perkins+Will Architects, and Architectural Building Inspection (ABI) Inc. This energy efficient, design-build project has a central plant system that is designed to perform 24% better than the ASHRAE standard.

Recent winners of the prize include Avista Corp. for its corporate headquarters and the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) for the Thomas Foley U.S. Courthouse.

McKinstry said the five-year remodel of Avista Corp.’s 150,000-square-foot office building will save 1.4 million kilowatt-hours per year, which is enough to power 116 homes, and will save $149,000 every year in energy costs. This LEED Gold Certified project will be completed by the summer of 2015.

The Thomas Foley U.S. Courthouse project dealt with the unique constraints of providing extensive upgrades to an existing building. The upgrades reduced baseline energy consumption by 50 percent, and reduced carbon emissions by 693 tons.

Other 2014 Champions are Vulcan Real Estate, GLY Construction, Clise Properties, Lydig Construction, Seattle University, Gresham-Barlow School District.

One of the largest solar arrays in the state of Washington is included in McKinstry’s many energy conservation initiatives at CenturyLink Field and Event Center.

Here are some other conservation facts about CenturyLink Field:

  • Solar panels spanning the area of two football fields sit atop the roof and generate more than 800,000 kilowatt hours of electricity annually, meeting 30% of the facilities energy needs with solar power, an equivalent of powering 95 Seattle area homes for a year.
  • 100% of urinals have been retrofitted with ultra-low-flow water fixtures, saving more than 1.3 million gallons of water every year. That’s enough to turn CenturyLink Field into a giant 3-foot-deep swimming pool.
  • Less water means less energy and lower CO2 emissions – the equivalent of planting 278 football fields worth of trees.
  • Through the use of 614 recycle and compost bins located throughout, 94% of waste generated at CenturyLink Field and Event Center is diverted from landfills.


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