Water rules kink plans for world's greenest building

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by GARY CHITTIM / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @gchittimK5

KING5.com

Posted on October 7, 2011 at 7:32 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 7 at 7:41 PM

SEATTLE -- Constructing the world's greenest building in Seattle may have hit a snag.

Denis Hayes is used to a good fight. He has stood toe-to-toe against powerful companies and governments to defend environmental causes. Now the President and CEO of the Seattle-based Bullitt Foundation is fighting to defend an important feature of its new headquarters.

The foundation's new Cascadia Center is described as the greenest office building in the world. With its enormous array of solar panels and energy saving technology, it's expected to produce more energy than it consumes.

An underground composting system will capture waste from the building's bathrooms and convert it into nutrient rich top soil. The building's 50,000-gallon cistern will capture and treat all the building's storm water. But in that lies the problem.

The Bullitt Foundation wants to treat that rainwater and use it for the building's drinking water. But the National Safe Drinking Water Act, an act Hayes says he admires, requires all U.S. water supplies be treated with chlorine.

The Washington State Health Department told KING 5 News it must enforce that act and unfortunately, there does not appear to be any room for negotiation.

Hayes said the company is committed to not using chemicals, such as chlorine, in the building and is hoping to convince the government to permit the use of non-toxic purification methods like ozone or distillation.

If the drinking water plan fails, Hayes said it won't kill the project. However, he said if the nation is readying for a world with less water, the government should begin by allowing office buildings to capture and treat their own rain water.

The Cascadia Center is scheduled to be open in late 2012.

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