A Look at the Greenest Buildings in America

Bill Starkey
4 min readJan 21, 2022

Green building is on the rise across the United States today, presenting companies with the opportunity to not only protect the environment, but achieve impressive cost savings at the same time. Incorporating environmental responsibility and energy efficiency at every stage of development, green building has soared in popularity as forward-thinking companies come to realize the benefits in terms of both positive publicity and cost efficiency.

In this article, we look at four of the most exciting green developments in the United States today.

Bullitt Center — Seattle

Certified the largest “Living Building” by the Living Building Challenge, this 52,000-square-foot office complex has established itself as the world’s greenest commercial building.

Opened on Earth Day, 2013, the Bullitt Center was designed by Miller Hull Partnership, the $30 million construction distinguishing itself from other sustainable projects through the inclusion of composting toilets, and the elimination of 350 common toxic chemicals, including mercury, lead, PVC, BPA, phthalates, and formaldehyde.

The facility operates within a strict water and energy budget to support self-sufficiency, having been designed to demonstrate that a carbon neutral office space can be both commercially viable and visually stunning.

New Orleans BioInnovation Center — New Orleans

Adopting elements of vernacular climate responsive strategies, including a rainwater collection facility, landscaped courtyard, sheltered porch, and slatted shutters, this award-winning building houses a private, not-for-profit business incubator dedicated to nurturing bioscience innovation throughout Louisiana.

The New Orleans BioInnovation Center was created with the mission of inspiring local innovators, providing them with access to premier facilities, customized commercial services, and a comprehensive support network, empowering them to create their own successful biotech businesses.

New Orleans’ first LEED Gold-certified laboratory building, the center features 66,000 square feet of state-of-the-art office, wet-lab, and conference space, providing the perfect environment for entrepreneurs to conceive and cultivate new bioscience ideas. Located in downtown New Orleans, the building was designed by Eskew+Dumez+Ripple, a local company, working in collaboration with NBBJ of Seattle.

Utilizing sustainable building technologies, the center features a range of amenities, including an interior atrium, beautifully landscaped interior courtyard, protected exterior balconies, and a large conferencing center equipped with state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment.

Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building — Portland, Oregon

Situated in the heart of Portland, this 18-story, 525,000-square-foot building is a base for 16 federal agencies, providing office space for more than 1,200 federal employees.

Originally constructed in 1974, the facility underwent a major overhaul between 2009 and 2014. Today, the Federal Building is a cornerstone of the General Services Administration’s green building portfolio, incorporating all-new electrical, plumbing, mechanical, and data systems designed to make it one of the country’s most energy efficient office buildings.

The result of a collaboration between Cutler Anderson Architects, SERA Architects, and Howard S. Wright Construction, the newly renovated Federal Building incorporates a range of sustainable, innovative, efficient technologies, including:

  • A 13,000-square-foot solar roof capable of producing enough energy to meet 3% of the building’s total annual electrical requirements.
  • Solar thermal panels providing 30% of the facility’s hot water.
  • Modernized, energy-generating elevators.
  • Shading devices incorporated on the south, east, and west facades capable of responding to sunny conditions; minimizing solar heat gain, and maximizing daylight during the summer months.
  • Energy efficient water fixtures that, in conjunction with rainwater reuse, reduce the building’s overall water consumption by up to 60% compared with typical office buildings.
  • A dedicated external air system providing 100% fresh air.
  • An energy efficient electric lighting system incorporating advanced controls that reduce light energy expenditure by 40% compared to Oregon code.

John and Frances Angelos Law Center — Baltimore

Forming part of the University of Baltimore, the John and Frances Angelos Law Center opened in 2014. Located at the intersection of Mt. Royal Avenue and North Charles Street, this transformative building is a major architectural landmark for central Baltimore.

Designed by Behnisch Architekten of Stuttgart, Germany, in partnership with Ayers/Saint/Gross, a Baltimore firm, the John and Frances Angelos Law Center was specially created to capture as much natural light as possible, while simultaneously reducing reliance on natural resources.

The center is one of the greenest buildings in Baltimore today, its heating and cooling systems incorporating state-of-the-art equipment to capture and reuse rainwater. In addition to its rainwater harvesting system, the building also incorporates several other remarkable features, including a green roof, sunken garden, and terraces featuring endemic and adapted plants; non-emergency lights that automatically turn off after business hours; and a dedicated air management system that maximizes the flow of clean air through classrooms, offices, and open spaces, reducing energy needs in high-use periods in good weather.

Incorporating 15 classrooms with advanced technology, a 300-seat event space and moot courtroom, 29 study spaces, and a 32,000-square-foot library, this groundbreaking facility has been recognized with several awards, including The Architect’s Newspaper’s Best of Design Award for Facades 2014; the American Council of Engineering Company’s Engineering Excellence Award, 2014; and the US Green Building Council Maryland’s Excellence in Sustainable Design Award, 2012.

Originally published at http://billstarkey.net on January 21, 2022.



Bill Starkey

A real estate professional in Montgomery, Texas, Bill Starkey spent more than 37 years as CEO of Starkey Construction, LLC.