Case Studies

Bertschi School Living Science Building


The Bertschi School Living Science building, located in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood, is the first project in the world built to the Living Building Challenge (LBC) v2.0 criteria and in an urban setting. This elementary school wing, collaboratively designed with the students and completed in February 2011, follows LBC requirements that include 20 Imperatives. These Imperatives, which include net zero water, net zero energy and adherence to a materials Red List, must be proven over a one year period of occupancy. A 12-kilowatt PV system produces all of the electricity for the building and allows students to participate in real-time monitoring of the buildings energy use and photovoltaic production. All water needed for the building is collected and treated on site. This is done through a variety of methods including cisterns for storage, an interior green wall of tropical plants which treats grey water, and a composting toilet to treat black water. An ethnobotanical rain garden treats all storm water and provides food for the building. Students have crafted paints and paintbrushes from the garden plants and prepared salads and soups.

The most important aspect of the project is that all the sustainable features are visible and functional for students to learn ecological concepts that can become intrinsic values for future generations. The entire design team performed the project pro-bono for the non-profit school.

Bertschi School Living Science Building

Owner - Bertschi School
Architecture - KMD Architects
Structural Engineering - Quantum Consulting Engineers
Engineering Services / MEP - 2020 Engineering, Rushing
Contractors / Fabricators - Skanska USA Building