Senate Bill 5854

One of the most encouraging things to come out of this year’s legislative session is the passing and signing into law of Senate Bill 5854, aka the Washington State Reducing Climate Pollution in the Built Environment ordinance which went into effect July 26th.

The bill’s first sentence establishes the high priority of energy conservation. “The legislature finds that energy efficiency is the cheapest, quickest, and cleanest way to meet rising energy needs, confront climate change, and boost our economy.” Continue reading “Senate Bill 5854”

Low-impact presenting

Our principal Catherine Benotto AIA, ASLA, LEED AP has been busy. In addition to her project load, overseeing Weber Thompson’s community/urban design/landscape groups and sustainable resource team, volunteering on the Seattle Planning Commission, developing the Washington regional credits in the USGBC’s LEED Neighborhood Development program and the construction of her own green home, she has been one of the featured speakers in the Low Impact Development (LID) Technical Workshop Series presented by Washington State University’s Pierce County Extension program and the Puget Sound Water Partnership.

These workshops took place in Sequim, Bellingham, Lacey and Seattle and covered a wide range of Low Impact topics including Bioretention, Site Planning, Green Roofs, and Permeable Paving. Catherine presented on Site Analysis and Low Impact Planning of communities, describing a holistic and integrated design process that aims to reduce overall environmental impacts.

Participants gave great feedback on the workshops with 94% rating them as good or excellent. Over 1,100 people attended the workshops. Of that 58 have gone on to achieve the LID certificate, with another 75 in the process for testing for certificates.

The LID certificate is supported by WSU Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, WSU Extension and the Puget Sound Partnership. WSU is hoping to put on another series as soon as they can put funding together. If you are interested, visit WSU LID Workshop for updates.

The survey results are in

After spending a year working in The Terry Thomas, our staff was asked to participate in a third party initiated survey (anonymous) regarding their environment, comfort level and how our new offices function. We are pleased to hear all the positive comments from our staff, and to see that most of the negative comments are in regards to systems that we have been fine tuning or replacing. These mainly run to the dampers opening on cold days in response to the CO2 levels, waterless urinals and the glare on computer screens due to all the windows. What is encouraging to see is the high sense of community and collaboration in our new offices as compared to our old space, and that on the whole the smaller work stations with communal/common layout space and storage areas overall works well for everyone.

Here is a summarized version of the survey. Continue reading “The survey results are in”

Summer school at Weber Thompson

It is always a little quieter around here in the summer as people take vacations. But this summer the activity level has risen as we are hosting six students and their professor from the Washington State University School of Architecture and Construction Management Summer Studio.

The Seattle Summer Studio program is a six week course intended to immerse students in cultures not readily available to them back in school. By way of design challenges, the students are pushed to explore a weave of issues, first as related to architecture and urban design, and second to professional practice.

“The opportunity to have practice and the academy interact in this way is invaluable to the students, while infusing the latest innovative thinking from the classroom into the firm,” says Wolf Saar AIA, LEED AP, a firm Principal and a member of the Professional Advisory Board to WSU. Continue reading “Summer school at Weber Thompson”

One year and lots of savings later

It has been over 15 months here at The Terry Thomas, and while we know the building is working great, it is nice to finally have real numbers.

The big news is our cost for energy usage — it is really low! Compared to the average national cost of $1.65 per square foot, according to the EPA’s National Action Plan for Energy Efficiency for office buildings, The Terry Thomas is running at $0.58 to $0.60 per square foot. For those of you who build (or renovate) and hold buildings, this is a great case study for long-term savings.

The other good news here is that our original modeling suggested that we would cut our energy use 30%-40%. As it turns out, the first year numbers indicate that we have reduced our energy consumption 41.88% for the whole building and 49.14% for Weber Thompson’s offices compared to the national average. As we continue to fine tune the systems and fill up the entire building, we anticipate that these numbers will continue to improve.

Data Collection

Here is a brief overview of the analysis and numbers:

We spent the first few months commissioning and working out the details for this building, so our data collection didn’t start until June 2008, and goes through June 2009.

The data is analyzed in two different ways:
• Based on the entire building excluding unheated, sub grade parking square footage. With assistance
from Stantec Engineering, projections had to be made for energy usage for the few spaces that do not have tenants.
• The second set of numbers is for Weber Thompson’s offices only (LEED Platinum certified) located on levels two and three.

1) Whole Building         Amount Used       
Electricity:                  21.80 kBtu/sf/yr (47% of total energy usage)
Natural Gas:              24.58 kBtu/sf/yr (53% of total energy usage)
     Total:                          46.38 kBtu/sf/yr

2) Levels 2 and 3         Amount Used
Electricity:                 21.87 kBtu/sf/yr (54% of total energy usage)
Natural Gas:             18.76 kBtu/sf/yr (46% of total energy usage)
    Total:                         40.63 kBtu/sf/yr

Based on the EPA’s National Action Plan for Energy Efficiency for office buildings, the average annual energy intensity for office buildings across the United States is 79.8 kBtu per square foot.

As part of this we got the post-occupancy survey back on the building. We will summarize and post the survey next week.

As always, if you are interested in a tour, or want to talk about how we designed a building with such great energy saving results, feel free to give us a holler at (206) 344-5700.

Continue reading “One year and lots of savings later”

What’s next?

Awards, inquiries, tours, and comments keep rolling in. Each award is individually an honor to receive – few more so that The Terry Thomas’s recent recognition as a winner in AIA Seattle’s annual What Makes it Green Award for 2009. These recent awards are especially rewarding as we now have the data to back up the pronouncements/projections we have been making about the building – energy and water saved, IAQ comfort enjoyed and operating costs lowered.

One year lessons learned along with one year data on the performance of the building to come…
When we started the design process over four years ago, we were looking for a sustainable, market based reality to the design, a for profit solution. Building on the lessons learned from this endeavor, we are applying our knowledge to projects with different programs, goals and visions.

Our newest foray into green building design is a 180 unit mixed use HUD financed residential project and another small commercial building. While we are early in the process on both, we are investigating the application of geothermal heating, passive cooling (of course!) and 100% on site rainwater infiltration and collection. We will keep you updated.

This week: an award along with validation

The Terry Thomas has been selected as one of the Top Ten sustainable architecture projects in the country by AIA and its Committee on the Environment (COTE)! This national program showcases projects that are “ the result of a thoroughly integrated approach to architecture, natural systems and technology”. We couldn’t be prouder to be selected for an award that looks at building performance as well as aesthetics.Click hereto visit the AIA website and find out more detailed information.

The COTE award comes on the heels of receiving the LEED-CI Platinum Certification for our offices — whooo hooo! Visit our website to read more about this rare honor. We also just received our first look at post-occupancy energy evaluations. Let’s look at a few of those numbers:

Between June 2008 and April 2009, our office space and associated common area used just over 40 kbtu/sf; in comparison, a typical office building uses about 80kbtu/sf. This includes all our electricity and natural gas usage in 18,000sf of office space plus our pro-rata share of the common areas and parking levels. Projecting our baseline usage over the remaining unleased office space in the building (any takers out there??) shows us on track to meet or beat this number through June (the official end of our first year numbers). Given that our energy modeling projected a modest 30% savings, we are thrilled!

It looks like the balancing game of using lots of glass for natural daylighting to reduce electrical lighting loads and adding operable windows and louvers to eliminate air conditioning has paid off. Check back this summer for a more detailed look at the first year numbers.

For additional press coverage on The Terry Thomas and Weber Thompson’s office, click here:

KPLU 88.5

The Daily Journal of Commerce
Weber Thompson Press Releases

For additional information regarding leasing opportunities, email:


It doesn’t matter how many advanced sustainable strategies you have in your building, if it is contributing to sprawl, it is not sustainable. To be sustainable, start with placing the building in a compact, mixed use, walkable and transit-friendly location. These are some of the goals behind LEED for Neighborhood Development, the USGBC’s Pilot program for communities, a new metric for measuring Smart Growth and Environmentally Responsible Development.

Weber Thompson is working on three of the 238 projects accepted into the pilot program. One of these is our own neighborhood. The City of Seattle engaged us to help evaluate how the South Lake Union Urban Center, performs against LEED-ND. While most of the 238 Pilot Program’s applicants are new developments by a private developer, the South Lake Union neighborhood is fairly unique in that it is City sponsored, is based on the City plan and is being implemented by multiple developers.While it gave us the opportunity to evaluate the applicability of LEED-ND in a highly-urbanized, already-developed area, it is also giving the City of Seattle information necessary to guide future neighborhood and City policies. Our other LEED ND project, Sweetwater in Hailey, Idaho, gives us the opportunity to test the program application in a small town and compare the differences between the two vastly different types of locations.

We are in the final stages of certification for both projects and will keep you posted on results. You can also hear more at our presentation during the 2009 Washington Association of Landscape Architects Conference “Engaging Change: A Greener Perspective” on Friday April 3, 2009 at the Seattle Center.


After four years of hard work, fantastic design, minute attention to light candles, air flow and waterless urinals, The Terry Thomas is officially a LEED Gold certified building!!

We are all so excited to learn that our certification came through. It could only have happened through the dedication and hard work of our Weber Thompson Project Team and Consultants. We want to take a minute to thank our team:

 Weber Thompson – Architect, Sustainable Certification
•    Scott Thompson, AIA, LEED AP – Principal in Charge of Design, Core and Shell
•    Peter David Greaves AIA, LEED AP – Principal in Charge of Design, WT Tenant Improvements
•    Elzbieta Zielinska, LEED AP – Project Manager
•    Gabe Hanson, LEED AP – Designer
•    Mina Ghanaie, LEED AP – Job Captain
•    Heidi Fahy, NCIDQ, LEED AP – Project Manager, WT Tenant Improvements
Rafn Company – General Contractor
Stantec – Mechanical Engineering
DCI Engineers – Civil and Structural Engineering
First Western Development Services – Owner and Developer 

Now that the Core and Shell has achieved LEED Gold certification, we can submit the documentation for the Weber Thompson Tenant Improvement which is pursuing LEED-CI Platinum. We anticipate this certification in approximately 6-8 weeks. After that, look to this blog for a download on what credits we pursued and didn’t achieve and how the certification process went for us overall.

In the meantime, we will be peppering this blog with upcoming news on Weber Thompson’s different sustainability efforts including LEED-ND for South Lake Union, Weber Thompson’s greening operations efforts and LEED EBOM.