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Archive for the ‘Building Envelope’ Category

At PROSOCO, we don’t often talk about how we’ve long been a leader in making resilient, high-performing products that leave a minimal impact on the environment. But late last week, wescs received recognition for some of our efforts that we’re particularly proud of. Four of our high-performance coating and sealant products have been certified by SCS Global Services as conformant with the SCS Indoor Advantage Gold™ standard, one of the most stringent qualifiers of indoor air quality in the industry.

Three of those products reside in the PROSOCO R-GUARD® family of products, which are formulated to prevent unwanted movement of water and air through building envelopes:

And a product in our Consolideck® line of high-performance products for sustainable concrete floors was also certified with the SCS Indoor Advantage Gold standard:

These four newly certified products represent just the latest in a long list of PROSOCO products that have earned this certification over the past six years. Read the entire list of third-party certifications for R-GUARD and Consolideck®.

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Seattle's Bullitt Center

Seattle’s Bullitt Center, opening day on Earth Day, April 22, 2013. Photo by John Young

As Earth Day approaches this year, I’m reminded of one of the biggest stories that captured the industry’s attention last year at this time — the ribbon-cutting and grand opening of Seattle’s Bullitt Center. Though I wasn’t personally on staff at PROSOCO back then (I’m a newbie with about 4 months under my belt), the Bullitt Center is a common thread I’ve seen in PROSOCO’s project profiles online, on this blog and in countless industry publications.

For good reason. Anyone involved in this high-profile, high-performance project should be shouting about it from solar-paneled rooftops. Deemed the “world’s greenest commercial building,” the project started off with (and attained) a very ambitious goal — net-zero and Passive House levels of energy efficiency. Design firm Miller Hull Partnership, general contractor Schuchart Corp., and developer Point 32 also called for all products to be free of ingredients found on the Living Building Challenge’s Red List.

PROSOCO is proud of the fact that our own R-GUARD and Consolideck® products helped the Bullitt Center achieve that extreme standard and become an industry icon of energy performance. The R-GUARD FastFlash® system of fluid-applied airtight and waterproof barrier products was used on the building envelope, while our Consolideck® concrete flooring products LS/CS® and LSGuard® were used on about 90% of the center’s concrete floors.

A couple of weeks ago, I checked in with Keith Miller of Final Concrete, whose company was contracted to finish the center’s concrete floors. Keith actually recommended using Consolideck LS/CS® and LSGuard® to the general contractor because he had worked with those products before and knew how effective they were.

“(The general contractor) wanted the best-performing product that we had worked with, and it was a no-brainer,” Miller said.

He added that he had learned about the products’ environmental benefits from other jobs like Kohl’s, and that he “just really enjoyed using the product.”

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Congratulations to Weiss Building & Development LLC, which came in first place at the Department of Energy’s Challenge Home Builder Awards in the systems builder category. The winning project was a house in River Forest, Ill., which was built to the requirements of the Passive House Institute as well as the DOE’s Challenge Home program.

Four PROSOCO R-GUARD® products helped deliver the energy efficiency that the DOE award aims to recognize – FastFlash®, AirDam, Spray Wrap and Joint & Seam Filler.

Passive House Consultant Tom Bassett-Dilley and Eric Barton of concrete contractor Biltmore Insulated Concrete also made this project possible.

Learn more about the PROSOCO line of R-GUARD® products used on this award-winning home:

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Bullitt Center

Seattle’s Bullitt Center
Photo by John Young

We’re always paying attention to what industry publications are saying about PROSOCO and its products that improve the appearance and performance of sustainable buildings.

But when we receive recognition from a consumer website as well-read and far-reaching as the Huffington Post, well, it really makes our day. It’s encouraging to see our message go beyond the construction industry. Especially when it’s about a project that’s as near and dear to us as Seattle’s Bullitt Center.

The article, written by Lynne Peeples and published in the site’s “green” section, talks about how the commercial building was constructed using exactly zero of more than 360 identified elements and compounds that are believed to be potentially toxic to humans. Given that Americans today spend about 90 percent of their time indoors, it’s becoming more and more important that buildings are made using green materials, the article states.

PROSOCO is specifically named near the end of the article:

“The researchers even worked with one manufacturer, PROSOCO, to reformulate its ‘liquid-applied air and water barrier’ without phthalates.”

The product referenced – PROSOCO’s R-GUARD® FastFlash® air and water barrier system — helped the Bullitt Center become net-zero energy-efficient, one of the facets of the Living Building Challenge.

Watch: Learn more about our phthalate-free FastFlash® product »

PROSOCO’s Consolideck® LS/CS® and Consolideck® LSGuard® products also comply with the Living Building Challenge requirements and were used on the center’s concrete floors.

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Karuna House

Photo courtesy of Hammer & Hand

It began with a goal so ambitious, it had never before been achieved.

The Karuna House in Yamhill County, Ore., designed by Holst Architecture and built by Hammer & Hand, aimed to earn three green building certifications, each demanding in its own right — Passive House (PHIUS+), Minergie-P-ECO and LEED for Homes Platinum.

With the help of PROSOCO’s R-GUARD® air and waterproof barrier products, the Karuna House has now received all three certifications and been dubbed the “world’s greenest” house.

The R-GUARD® FastFlash® system provided many elements the energy-efficient, high-performance project required – an airtight, watertight and vapor-permeable wall assembly.

According to our Aug. 15, 2012, update on the project, FastFlash® offered additional bonuses that no other product could, like its ability to go on damp surfaces, a key in the Pacific Northwest’s notoriously rainy clime, and its vapor permeability, which “lets those damp surfaces dry out, even after being coated with FastFlash® products.”

With a margin for error of virtually nil in the house’s air barrier, Hammer & Hand also applied PROSOCO’s R-GUARD® Cat 5 liquid-applied membrane everywhere, from the roof and parapets to the undersides of cantilevered decks.

For more on the construction of the Karuna House, check out this series of videos from Hammer & Hand on installing the PROSOCO R-GUARD® air and waterproof barrier system.

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With the kind permission of RCI, the international association of building envelope consultants, I’m republishing this article authored by Paul Grahovac, PROSOCO’s Building Envelope Group Technical Director. The story originally appeared in the April edition of RCI’s technical journal Interface.

Genesis Of A Waterproof Flashing System For A Damp Climate tells the story of contractors who refused to settle for industry-standard building-envelope products that routinely failed in the challenging Pacific Northwest environment.

End-note references are noted in parentheses in the text.

This rotted plywood from a vapor-impermeable peel and stick that trapped moisture is typical of what repair contractor Tatley-Grund, Seattle, finds in water-damaged buildings. They found it counter-productive to repair problems like this with the same methods that they felt caused the damage to begin with. Photo courtesy of BEI, LLC

This rotted plywood from a vapor-impermeable peel and stick that trapped moisture is typical of what repair contractor Tatley-Grund, Seattle, finds in water-damaged buildings. They found it counter-productive to repair problems like this with the same methods that they felt caused the damage to begin with. Photo courtesy of BEI, LLC

Genesis Of A Waterproof Flashing System For A Damp Climate
By Paul Grahovac
The answers to common construction problems are out there.

Tatley-Grund, Seattle, Washington., a contracting firm specializing in whole-building repair of water-damaged multi-story structures, often sees failed peel-and-stick flashing membranes on rough openings.

During forensic investigations of buildings suffering water intrusion problems in the Pacific Northwest, principals Stacey Grund and Ron Tatley have documented repeated cases of adhesion failure that let water into the building envelope.

“We’ve removed the cladding and seen the membranes peeled away and curled up,” Grund says. “We’ve seen where contractors have had to staple the membrane to the sheathing because it wouldn’t adhere to a wet surface.”

The majority of the firm’s work is on buildings less than five years old; far too young, Grund says, to need this kind of repair.

He has testified as an expert witness in over 85 lawsuits concerning these failures.

Part of the reason for the stream of building envelope failures rests with the unique climate of the Pacific Northwest, Grund says. Though the area gets less rain than is commonly believed, it has a high percentage of cool, wet days. That means not enough wet/dry cycles, which takes a toll on building envelopes.

Only 3 years old, this Seattle apartment complex had its cladding removed, windows replaced, repairs made to rough openings and sheathing, and cladding replaced at a cost of $14 million, after its traditional air and water barrier products failed. This type of failure was the genesis of STPE air and water barrier products, since the contractor didn’t want to make repairs with the same techniques that failed in the first place. Tatley-Grund photo.

Only 3 years old, this Seattle apartment complex had its cladding removed, windows replaced, repairs made to rough openings and sheathing, and cladding replaced at a cost of $14 million, after its traditional air and water barrier products failed. This type of failure was the genesis of STPE air and water barrier products, since the contractor didn’t want to make repairs with the same techniques that failed in the first place. Tatley-Grund photo.

Current methods also must shoulder some responsibility.

ASTM E 2112 – 07 Standard Practice for Installation of Exterior Windows, Doors and Skylights requires 21 steps to properly flash a rough opening, creating, by some counts(1), 74 interfaces between membranes and sheathing. In a multi-story building with 300 windows, for example, that’s 22,200 opportunities for air and water to leak through.

And in real-world circumstances — in a repetitious 21-step procedure repeated dozens of times a day — it’s possible for even the most dedicated, competent installer to miss a step. Unfortunately, that one missed step can, and often does compromise an entire wall assembly when it permits water intrusion.

It’s no wonder that the U.S Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Building Assessment Survey and Evaluation (BASE ) study of 100 randomly selected U.S. office buildings found 43% of the buildings had current water leaks, and 85% had experienced previous water leaks.(2)

In their own work in the late 1990s, the partners concluded it was counter-productive to repair water-damaged buildings using the same methods that appeared to fail in the first place.

Being contractors, they wanted a rough-opening flashing system that could meet the needs of their clients and the demands of the real world — especially the extra damp Pacific Northwest.

They wanted something simple to install, that could tie into existing air, water and vapor barrier systems, and that they could guarantee to their clients would not delaminate, rip or otherwise fail for the designed life of the building. Unfortunately, nothing like that existed.

That didn’t stop them. They began with a wish list. Tatley-Grund’s ideal flashing system must:

• Bond to damp surfaces, since dampness is a fact of life in the Pacific Northwest
• Be immediately waterproof in case of rain
• Be fluid-applied to avoid “build up” that could affect how well the window fits into the rough opening
• Adhere permanently and without a primer
• Not shrink
• Be VOC-compliant, low-odor, and environmentally friendly
• Be opaque when target thickness is achieved so the installer knows when the right amount is applied
• Withstand exposure to weather for up to six months in case of construction delays
• Be compatible with most paints
• Be vapor-permeable
• Have few and easy application steps
• Be easily repaired
• Self-seal around fasteners

Tatley led the search. For four years he tried and discarded urethanes, acrylics and silicones.

In 2004, after repeated unsuccessful tries with their existing products, a silicone sealant manufacturer pointed to Tom Schneider, an expert in polymer chemistry.

Schneider told the partners that with some work, a modified silyl (MS) polymer resin known as silyl-terminated polyether (STPE) might work for their purpose.

Guided by the wish list, the Seattle contractors and the chemist worked together to harness the substance for flashing rough openings.

It turned out to be well-suited to the task. The result, an STPE-based fluid-applied flashing system meeting every checkpoint of the Tatley-Grund wish-list, has been in continuous use, for both repair and new construction since 2005.

Since then, the company has found the STPE resin versatile enough to be the base for a gun-and-spread joint and seam filler, and a roller-applied primary air and waterproof barrier.

Architectural Record magazine recognized the STPE-based flashing system in the publication’s list of top waterproofing products of 2010.(3)

STPE Chemistry

STPE-based products are the leading construction sealants in Europe and Asia – including Japan where STPE was developed in 1978.

In their raw state, STPEs are clear resins. At the molecular level, STPE consists of a polyether “backbone,” with methoxysilyl chains on either end.

With moisture and the proper catalyst, those chains condense together creating weather-repellant durable silyl bonds to hold the high-performance membrane together, Schneider explained.

This results in several of the properties Grund and Tatley sought for their wet locale, such as being instantly waterproof on application, being useable on damp substrates, and at the same time, curing even faster in case of contact with water, such as rain.

Those weren’t the only reasons Schneider thought STPEs were good candidates for Tatley and Grund’s flashing system.

Edward M. Petrie, author of McGraw-Hill’s Handbook of Adhesives and Sealants, wrote a paper4 on silyl-modified polymer technology for The Adhesives and Sealant Council. In it, he compared MS polymers such as STPEs with urethane and silicone sealants. He used a table to show how MS polymers out-perform the others across a range of factors.

Petrie noted a major MS polymer drawback; strength-loss over long periods of UV exposure.

STPE-based rough-opening flashing and primary air and water barriers could be compromised in case of lengthy exposure during construction delays. That was one of several issues Schneider knew he’d have to address.

From resin to reality
The hardest part about going from the raw material to the finished product, Schneider said, was that there was no one to ask when he had questions. The overseas manufacturer of the raw material was tight-lipped, and few in the U.S. had heard of STPEs.

He started with what the resins already had that corresponded to the wish list: they were flexible, durable, and resistant to heat, cold, water and chemicals.

They were solvent-free. They could self-seal around and to fasteners. They had excellent adhesion on a wide range of substrates, and so could tie in to existing barrier systems. They were vapor permeable and had a suitable cure rate.

Unfortunately, the available STPE resins all varied in viscosity, flexibility and strength, Schneider said. None was exactly right. He mixed and matched until he had a blend the contractors liked.

Alone in the laboratory, Schneider worked to create from the STPE resin a product with all the properties called for by Tatley and Grund’s wish list. He experimented with UV inhibitors, treated pigments for impact-resistance, increased vapor-permeability and flow characteristics, anti-microbials and plasticizers.

Time after time he’d take his latest batch to Seattle for the crews to try out, and time after time he returned to the lab to try again.

It was only a matter of time. That time turned out to be 2005.

Flashing rough openings
In its 2005 debut, here’s how that first alternative to peel and stick membranes worked.

1. The waterproof flashing membrane, which they named Wet-Flash PM 7000, is gunned out of a cartridge and over the entire inside surface of the rough opening, 12 mils thick and 4 – 6 inches out onto the sheathing or CMU wall around the rough opening.

– An applicator demonstrates the relative simplicity of waterproofing a rough opening with the STPE-based flashing system. Photo courtesy BEI, LLC

– An applicator demonstrates the relative simplicity of waterproofing a rough opening with the STPE-based flashing system. Photo courtesy BEI, LLC

2. A pre-creased textile counterflashing is adhered to the bottom of the rough opening, folded over the sill and pressed into the flashing material.

3. After a 15- to 30-minute cure-time, the window goes in.

For flanged windows, the PM 7000 applies over the flanges except for drainage weeps left in the sill area.

That’s simpler than the 21-step ASTM E 2112 – 07 method.

Tatley – Grund’s method also solved “build-up.” In splicing and wrapping corners of rough openings with peel and stick, Grund said, installers sometimes find they’ve built up the surface an extra quarter to three-eighths of an inch. In those cases, windows have to be jammed in, which can damage the peel and stick and compromise the rough opening’s water-tight integrity.

“That’s one reason we wanted a fluid-applied solution,” he said.

Field performance
The first field trials of the fluid-applied STPE flashing system took place on several window-replacement projects in early 2005.

While the formulation lived up to most expectations, Schneider said it required adjustments for viscosity (needed to be thinner), cure-time (it was drying too fast) and color. Applicator feedback indicated changing the color from gray to red would make it easier to inspect the flashing for correct thickness.

A further refinement added fiber to the resin to reduce “drippiness.”

One of those early projects took place in 2005 at Renaissance Condominiums in Seattle. In 2009, Tatley-Grund returned to the Renaissance Condominiums with independent inspectors from OAC, Seattle, a full-service architecture, construction support and forensic engineering firm.

The visit’s purpose was to inspect a representative sample of the building to gauge how well the STPE-based flashing had protected the rough opening and surrounding sheathing over the years.

With owner permission, the investigators removed about 50 square feet of Hardy Board siding and weather-resistive barrier on the building’s exterior to reveal the sheathing and rough opening. From inside the building, they cut an opening beneath the window so they could inspect the wall cavity.

The inspection addressed the south and west corners of the building, since those are the elevations most exposed to Seattle’s wind and rain patterns, according to OAC’s report.

The report states the inspectors found Tatley-Grund’s flashing system in good repair, functioning as intended, and all inspected surfaces dry and in good condition.

Tatley-Grund plans to re-inspect in 2015.

Since Schneider’s first successful batch of STPE flashing material was applied on rough openings in 2005, he has helped Tatley-Grund pioneer other STPE-based products and procedures to make their repairs to water-damaged buildings more effective.

They include a joint and seam filler, and a roller-applied primary air barrier.

Testing
Tatley-Grund’s STPE system passed ASTM E 2357-05, Standard Test Method for Determining Air Leakage of Air Barrier Assemblies. In this test, the joint and seam filler, original flashing and primary air barrier products — all derived from the STPE base resins, — were tested at 75 pascals of pressure, corresponding to a 25 mph wind.

The system also passed the International Code Council Evaluation Service – Acceptance Criteria 212 for water-resistive barriers. The water-resistive test requires the coating to perform at least as well as asphalt-impregnated building paper.

Since climatic conditions in the Pacific Northwest routinely exceed the preceding test requirements, Tatley and Grund built their own test chamber in which they could subject mock-ups to more stringent weather simulations.

Ron Tatley makes some adjustments to the Design Verification Test Chamber he developed to test the air- and water-tight integrity of wall assembly mock-ups. PROSOCO photo

Ron Tatley makes some adjustments to the Design Verification Test Chamber he developed to test the air- and water-tight integrity of wall assembly mock-ups. PROSOCO photo

Testing assemblies rather than single products is important, they reasoned, since it doesn’t matter if an individual component can pass a test, if the assembly fails.

Tatley built what was basically a giant metal box about 10 feet high, 30 feet around and weighing around 12,000 pounds.

Wall-assembly mock-ups fit airtight into the open side of the box. The exterior side of the mock-up faces into the box, where there are nozzles to simulate rain, and fans to build air pressure. The interior side of the mock-up faces out, so inspectors can see where water is forced through.

Water almost always comes through, Grund says, because they usually test to failure. It’s good to know exactly how much stress an assembly can take, he says.

An inspector points to where air pressure simulating wind-driven rain has forced a leak in a wall assembly mock-up during testing in the Design Verification Test Chamber. PROSOCO photo

An inspector points to where air pressure simulating wind-driven rain has forced a leak in a wall assembly mock-up during testing in the Design Verification Test Chamber. PROSOCO photo

The Design Verification Test Chamber also features sensors and gauges to accurately measure that stress, which, Grund says, can be ratcheted up to Category 5 hurricane levels.

They’ve used the chamber to demonstrate the STPE system’s ability to withstand hours of water spray-driven at 2,880 pascals of pressure and racking movement corresponding to the 155-mph wind-driven rain of a Category 5 hurricane.

Air leakage testing
In chamber tests similar to ASTM E 2357 air barrier assembly testing, but using a smaller mock-up, Tatley, Grund and Schneider found their STPE system limited air leakage to 0.17 air changes per hour (ACH). That exceeds the 0.6-ACH passive house air leakage standard. It far exceeds the 5.0 ACH Energy Star standard for Climate Zones 3 and 4.

The results are supported by recent project testing at the Karuna(5) Passive House, under construction in Yamhill County, Oregon, where a partially installed STPE air-barrier system achieved .42 ACH in blower-door testing.

An installer seals a rough opening with an STPE-based flashing at an under-construction passive house in Yamhill County, Ore. The builders chose the fluid-applied flashing because of demonstrated performance in stopping air leaks through the building envelope. Photo courtesy Hammer and Hand

An installer seals a rough opening with an STPE-based flashing at an under-construction passive house in Yamhill County, Ore. The builders chose the fluid-applied flashing because of demonstrated performance in stopping air leaks through the building envelope. Photo courtesy Hammer and Hand

Compatibility
Adhesion to a wide range of surfaces, including damp ones was important, Grund said, since repairs require the flashing to tie into existing air-, water- and vapor-barrier systems. However, Grund noted that adhesion alone is not sufficient for long-term compatibility.

“For example, we’ve seen sealants with excellent adhesion on peel and sticks over the short term,” he said. “In the long term, some sealants block off-gassing from peel and sticks, resulting in discoloration and damage.

“If you don’t know from experience and/or prior testing whether two products will be compatible it’s best to test,” he said.

“We’ve found heat-testing and accelerated weathering testing are good predictors of long-term compatibility,” Grund added.

Environmental
As sealants and adhesives, STPEs have long been known for environmental friendliness, another item on the Tatley-Grund list. They contain no solvents or isocyanates(6), common to many sealants.

An STPE-based air and water barrier system derived from Schneider’s formula was recently installed on the under-construction Bullitt Center in Seattle. The Bullitt Center is being constructed according to the requirements of the Living Building Challenge(7). When completed*, it will stake a claim to being the greenest office building in the world(8).

This architectural rendering shows the net-zero Bullitt Center, Seattle. The Bullitt Center has an environmentally friendly STPE-based air and waterproof flashing system to help it meet the stringent energy conservation standards required to be certified as a “Living Building.” Rendering courtesy of Miller-Hull Partnership

This architectural rendering shows the net-zero Bullitt Center, Seattle. The Bullitt Center has an environmentally friendly STPE-based air and waterproof flashing system to help it meet the stringent energy conservation standards required to be certified as a “Living Building.” Rendering courtesy of Miller-Hull Partnership

Builders chose the STPE system first for its demonstrated ability to hold air leakage to Passive House and Net-Zero levels. They also chose it because it didn’t have any ingredients from the Living Building Challenge’s “Red List” of environmentally harmful substances.

Conclusions
In the end, this is not the story of a “miracle product,” but simply of existing chemistry being applied to and solving known problems.

“Although daunting to consider and potentially expensive on the front-end, long-term solutions to difficult problems are achievable,” Grund says. “As was the case with Tatley-Grund over 10 years ago, the existing materials the market offered were insufficient. We took it upon ourselves to develop and make our own material/system.

“That resulted in a much better finished product for our customers, and reduced risk and higher profitability for the company.”
###

References
(1) Rethinking the way we build, David W. Boyer, SWRI Applicator Magazine, Summer 2011, pp. 6-11
(2) Baseline information on 100 randomly selected office buildings in the United States (base): gross building characteristics, Proceedings of Healthy Buildings 2000, Vol. 1, pp. 151-156, http://www.epa.gov
(3) Architectural Record, December 2010, Product Reports-Thermal & Moisture Protection
(4) MS Polymers in “Hybrid” Sealants, Edward M. Petrie, The Adhesives and Sealant Council.
(5) Field Notes blog post, Aug. 3, 2012, HammerAndHand.com and Green Journey blog post, Aug. 15, 2012, greenpiece1.wordpress.com
(6) Isocyanates are the raw materials that make up all polyurethane products. They include compounds classified as potential human carcinogens. Isocyanates, http://www.osha.gov
(7) More information on the Living Building Challenge, arguably one of the world’s most stringent environmental standards, can be found online at living-future.org
(8) The greenest commercial building in the world, http://bullittcenter.org/

*The Bullitt Center celebrated its grand opening on Earth Day, April 22,

About the author:

Paul Grahovac

Paul Grahovac

Paul Grahovac works for PROSOCO, Lawrence, Kan., as the company’s Building Envelope Group Technical Director with 17 years experience in the building products industry. His professional activities include: LEED AP, International Code Council, Air Barrier Association of America Technical, Flashing, and Whole-Building Testing Committees, National Concrete Masonry Association’s Air Barrier Task Force, ASTM Committees on building performance / vapor permeability / window installation, RCI, ASHRAE, and the following National Institute of Building Sciences Councils: Building Enclosure Technology and Environmental Council (BETEC Building Enclosure Integration Committee) and the Council on Finance, Insurance and Real Estate.

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View from the 6th and top floor of Seattle's Bullitt Center. John Young photo

View from the 6th and top floor of Seattle’s Bullitt Center. John Young photo

PROSOCO’s videographer John Young took his camera to Seattle last month for the Earth Day grand opening of the Bullitt Center, regarded by many as the greenest commercial building on earth.

John went out there because PROSOCO supplied the Bullitt Center’s R-GUARD FastFlash Air & Waterproof Barrier system. That system stops air and water leaks through the building envelope at a level that helps the Bullitt Center meet the Net Zero energy efficiency and environmental responsibility requirements needed for certification as a Living Building.

The day after Earth Day, John did video interviews with two of the men who played pivotal roles in getting the Bullitt Center built — Denis Hayes, president and CEO of the Bullitt Foundation, as well as a founder of Earth Day; and Joe David, project associate and sustainability program manager with Seattle real estate company Point 32.

Here’s John’s report.

Report on the Bullitt Center
by John Young, PROSOCO

It has been all over the news (New York Times, Time, NPR, Popular Mechanics), so you might already know this, but the Bullitt Center is a pretty unique building. It is being touted as the greenest commercial building on the planet, and rightfully so. All the energy the building needs comes from its solar panels. All the water it needs comes from rainwater collected and recycled on site. It is designed to last 250 years and none of the products used to build the building contain toxins (materials or chemicals on the Living Building Challenge’s Red List)

Suffice to say, a building like this is going to have a pretty unique story of how it came to be. That was the story we wanted to capture when we set out for Seattle for the Grand Opening of the Bullitt Center last month.

Fittingly, the Grand Opening ceremony took place on Earth Day April 22. The crowds were big and the enthusiasm was high, but for me the highlight for me was the next day. That was when we got the chance to sit down and interview some key people involved in the Bullitt Center construction.

At 9:30am, the day after Earth Day, we had an on-camera interview with Denis Hayes, who in 1970 was coordinator of the first ever Earth Day. What was striking is that for Denis and for the others involved, the Bullitt Center very much represents a turning point in the construction industry.

PROSOCO’s involvement in this project is a pretty interesting part of this story, and one you will probably be hearing us tell quite a bit. Joe David, Project Associate for Point 32, was given the difficult task of finding products that were able to achieve the Bullitt Center’s tough performance goals while also being Red List compliant. That is where PROSOCO’s FastFlash products come into the story.

We found a lot of great people and great stories at the Bullitt Center. Over the next few months we will be putting all of the video footage together to tell the story of the Bullitt Center, what it means for today’s construction industry and what it means for the future of the industry.


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