Seattle could become the stateside Hammarby. Future cities expert Vairavamoorthy and others have described Seattle as a water policy and technology incubator.
For decades Seattle Public Utilities has been modeling its water system 50 to 60 years out into the future to try to understand the impact of population growth and climate change on the city’s ability to deliver water to residents, industry, other regional water supply systems, and aquatic species, including salmon, explains Ron Rochon, a partner at Seattle-based architecture firm the Miller Hull Partnership and a former member of the utilities’ advisory council.
“The utility is a recognized leader in water conservation strategies, and is a model not only for other water systems nationally, but globally,” says Rochon. They have steadily reduced demand while population in the Puget Sound region has increased, to the point where total consumption has been steady for years, and there is no foreseeable need to develop new water sources before 2050, he adds.
The Utilities are also a leader in innovation, particularly regarding stormwater management and wastewater treatment, Rochon says.
Miller Hull is working on the city’s, and one of the country’s, first living office and commercial buildings. The Cascadia Center for Design & Construction will send reclaimed wastewater back into the ground surrounding the building and try to emulate the predevelopment hydrology of the site.
The Bullitt Foundation, which supports sustainable design, will have its offices in the Cascadia Center. According to Bullitt’s website, the building aims to acheive the goals of the Living Building Challenge, which calls for 100 percent on-site renewable energy generation and 100 percent of the building’s water needs provided by rainwater harvesting.
If the pilot project goes well, this innovative approach could be used by other commercial buildings in the city.