The design team has been tasked with looking beyond the usual sustainability goals established by national organizations (such as USGBC) to determine if the Stadium Place development can not only meet building excellence standards like LEEDS – Gold and Built Green certification, and move beyond and look at the project and its neighborhood in a more symbiotic relationship when considering sustainability. As a result, we are considering issues such as how can we generate energy onsite and share it with our neighbors, how can we produce food onsite that helps to lower the project’s and neighborhood’s overall carbon footprint, and how we can integrate our public spaces into our neighborhood to act as an additional resource for everyone?
The initiatives that have arisen from these questions are extremely challenging and, if we are successful, will push the expectations of the public for future urban residential projects to higher standards. In addition to the initiatives required to meet the LEED- GOLD standard for new residential construction (i.e. energy efficient design, materials and equipment) the design team is analyzing the following areas of interest-
The question we have posed to our design teams is what resources are available nearby that we might be able to avail ourselves of to create the necessary energy for the project and possibly share the resulting energy with our immediate neighbors. Currently we are exploring a few concepts-
- The possible expansion of Seattle’s only current district energy solution, Seattle Steam, to provide hot water to the project in order to provide all of our necessary heat. The current steam system that exists in Pioneer Square would be upgraded to a hot water based system that would be very similar to those you would find in Denmark or Sweden. The advantage of this system would be that it creates the energy by burning waste biomass or clean natural gas. With a project of our size we might serve as the catalyst for the required investment in new equipment such a system would require. Our current discussions with Seattle Steam Co and the City of Seattle have not proven fruitful as the cost to improve the necessary infrastructure are not economical at this time.
District Energy Design
- The ability to use a nearby resource to create our own energy for the project. We are adjacent to a large interceptor line that carries the city’s wastewater for treatment prior to it being released back into our environment. Given the location of the pipe immediately adjacent to the project, we are in discussions with the King County Wastewater Treatment Division about using this sewage as our source of energy, but rather than use the methane generated from the waste, we would use a gasification process to create hydrogen gas that would in turn be used to run a generator to create electricity. We would initially produce approximately 10 megawatts of electricity that would serve our project, but could be increased in future years to provide the necessary electricity for both public stadiums and feed excess power into Seattle City Light’s power grid. One of the most exciting features of this plan is using untreated wastewater for fuel (thereby reducing cost of treatment for taxpayers) and having the only generator byproduct be water vapor. No carbon emissions at all. In simple terms, “mining poop for clean power”. This concept currently is on hold pending resolution of technology challenges incurred by the provider. The project includes taps so we can add this process whenever the technology challenges are resolved in the future.
- Our neighbor, King Street Station, is installing geothermal wells to store and retain heat. How might we be able to tap into their geothermal reserves to either provide them with additional heat or use their stored energy for our project? Our decision was to go in another direction because of the distance from the wells to Phase 1 of the project.
District Heat Exchange System
- If we aren’t able to create a hydrogen based generator system, can we use the energy represented by the heat embodied within the wastewater to provide our project with heat? Or can we trap the methane gas created from this waste stream to power our boilers or an onsite electric generator? We have decided against using methane due to the ordor concerns we have, but continue to explore heat embodiment strategies for future phases.
The Fruits of Harvest
As the center of the city becomes more dense, we must address how our increased human footprint can be managed efficiently and with a low carbon result. Obviously being located adjacent to the regional transit hub is a great start for the project, but how can we push the envelope of ideas with our design? One concept the design team chose is to use the project’s public open spaces to raise agriculture for onsite consumption. The first micro “urban” farm in Seattle will produce fresh vegetables that will be used by the onsite restaurants or will be available to our residents. Current planning features the use of multiple large planting areas that can be utilized all year long thanks to an innovative, but inexpensive, portable greenhouse system. In addition, the farm will incorporate electronic art into its design so the residents and nearby stadium visitors will be able to enjoy an ever changing kaleidoscope of colors and shapes during the entire year. Pushing the idea envelope by combining urban agriculture with art.
Urban Farm, Havana Cuba
Patrick Blanc design, Halles Avignon, Cote d’ Azur, France
Patrick Blanc design, Caxia Forum, Madrid, Spain
Inspired by the great work created by Patrick Blanc in Europe, the design team is exploring how we can use the large four story wall on the south face of the podium to create a public space that can feature aroma’s, textures, and visual cues for everyone to enjoy. The challenges presented in our climate include finding plants to use that can provide the necessary components needed to create this “work of art” and withstand our weather patterns. Consideration is also being given to whether we can expand our urban farming initiative into this area to increase its productivity at some point in the future.
How can we build on the ideal location (a perfect 100 transit score) with innovative programs. Such as combining the availability of Zip Cars for longer trips with bicycles for nearby destinations, but do it in a way where these resources are shared and available 24/7/365. Or how can we use the east block commercial development in combination with the “over the tracks” area to increase opportunities to work nearby to capture and expand the vitality of the creative work force now in Pioneer Square.