During a 2010 preconstruction meeting with the owner-developer of Seattle's super-sustainable Bullitt Center, the 50,000-sq-ft project's consulting engineer had a minor meltdown over electric-plug loads—the silent killer of green-building power conservation. Paul Schwer's eventual victory over his plug-load agita exemplifies the way the job's team members often were forced to exit their comfort zones during the $30-million project. In doing so, they not only improved Bullitt Center, they created an example for others to follow.
"Once someone demonstrates something is possible, others can do it," says Denis Hayes, president of the Bullitt Foundation since 1992 and the catalyst for the multi-tenant, self-sustaining building. In 1970, Hayes, then 25, coordinated the first Earth Day, which triggered the nation's environmental movement. Still, he calls Bullitt Center the realization of a dream "to do something exceptional."