Seattle-based design firm Weber Thompson has completed construction on Watershed, a mixed-use development that aggressively reduces its energy and water usage compared to conventional construction of the same size. Located in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, the inspiring project is one of a few pioneering buildings pursuing the city’s Living Building Pilot Program. The project will also be targeting the Materials, Place and Beauty petals toward Petal Certification from the International Living Future Institute’s Living Building Challenge.

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tree-lined walkway outside a glass building

Set at the intersection of Troll Avenue and 34th Street, the seven-story Watershed building comprises approximately 5,000 square feet of ground-floor retail as well as 67,000 square feet of office space above. In addition to offering mixed-use appeal, the building also takes on an educational role. It includes informative signage in the landscape to help the public learn about the importance of clean water in the region as well as a digital dashboard in the lobby that displays real-time building performance data. To achieve the standards of Seattle’s Living Building Pilot Program, Watershed is required to reduce energy use by 25% and water use by 75% compared to a baseline building.

Related: The net-zero Frick Environmental Center is officially one of the world’s greenest buildings

room with wood walls, concrete floors and metal stairs

Most impressively, Watershed features a comprehensive stormwater management plan that aims to capture and treat millions of gallons of runoff a year. Its cantilevered roof is engineered to capture 200,000 gallons of water a year that is used for on-site toilet flushing and irrigation. Stepped bio-retention planters also help retain and treat an additional 400,000 gallons of polluted stormwater runoff from the adjacent street and the Aurora Bridge annually prior to discharge in Lake Union. The building will eventually clean nearly 2 million gallons of toxic runoff from the Aurora Avenue Bridge annually as part of its three-phase Green Stormwater Infrastructure project.

rain gutter leading to lush garden beside a building

“Like every project we design, we’ve approached Watershed as an opportunity to create a building that positively impacts the broader community,” said Kristen Scott, architect and senior principal at Weber Thompson. “Watershed allows us to take what we’ve learned from some of our most ambitious sustainability projects to date and dig deeper to find new ways to showcase practical, achievable deep green design. Our goal is to inspire, through design, a stronger connection to place, community, and the environment around us.” The sustainable building also uses locally sourced materials, salvaged materials and state-of-the-art building energy controls and systems. 

+ Weber Thompson

Images via Weber Thompson