Greenfire sits on a .85 acre lot in the urban center of Ballard. The project’s “campus” concept includes residential and retail uses as well as office space. It includes a five-story apartment building with 18 units, a four-story 18,000 square foot office building with restaurants on the ground floor and 38 parking spaces. The two buildings are oriented to take up less than half of the site’s footprint and to maximize solar access and views.
Greenfire allowed us to put on our designer hats and construct systems that are on the cutting edge of green technology. Because of the project goals, we were able to design and build many innovative features that on other projects often get cut out early on for budget reasons. Because Greenfire Campus takes a long view of sustainability, the project team chose to implement systems such as geothermal wells, solar thermal panels, chilled beams, operable sunshades and natural ventilation that have a larger upfront cost but provide long term energy savings.
The two buildings at the Greenfire Campus are targeting LEED Platinum & LEED Gold certifications. Employing the project’s “sensible sustainable” design principle, our team implemented new practices, contributing not only to the conservation ethos of Greenfire, but modeling new ways to “green” the construction process:
- Smart-sizing dimensions, identifying areas where design could be slightly adjusted to significantly reduce waste generated during construction
- Smart ordering and using scraps: whenever possible, we purchased only the materials necessary to build the project and ordered materials such as siding panels pre-cut to avoid generating waste. We reused materials throughout the project. For example, the tool shed next to the P-patch gardens is made from leftover siding scraps, and the windows and door from the project mock-up.
- Paperless challenge. In an effort to build Greenfire “paperlessly,” we created a digital plan center, which was an on-site kiosk for subcontractors to review updated as-built drawings. This plan center was also available from any computer or mobile device.
- 99 percent waste recycling. On Walsh projects, we generally recycle more than 90 percent of the construction waste and debris. At Greenfire, we raised the bar to more than 99 percent of the waste.
Greenfire stands out in many ways as a signature green project: Fifty percent of the land is set aside for open space; solar heating systems generate 70 percent of the hot water; and the lighting system exceeds Seattle Energy Code by as much as 35 percent. The campus is impressive in its management of natural resources – it became the largest project in Seattle that uses rainwater as its sole source of irrigation. All irrigation needs are met by collected rainwater – saving 70,000 gallons of city drinking water per year. Greenfire’s solar hot water system produces 70% of domestic hot water in the apartment building. A 10-kilowatt solar PV system reduces purchased electrical energy by as much as 5% annually. Guided by the Living Building Challenge, and using the Architecture 2030 Challenge as an energy benchmark, Greenfire embraced simple, elegant solutions in seven performance areas: site, water, energy, health, materials, equity and beauty.