Skip to main content
  • Story
  • Sustainability

Good to Be Green: Our Progressive Building Philosophy

Seattle-based Vulcan is the engine behind philanthropist and Microsoft cofounder Paul G. Allen’s network of organizations and initiatives. Empowered by Paul’s vision to make a positive difference in the world, we work to be catalysts for change. We share a commitment to improving our planet through philanthropy, inspirational experiences, and scientific and technological breakthroughs.

Vulcan Real Estate is constantly working to improve the planet through our leadership in sustainable, green building practices. From our inception, we have been committed to building lasting value through the development of places that are socially, economically and environmentally progressive.

Building Green

Our commitment to sustainability starts with a focus on developing in urban areas, where there is existing infrastructure and a desire for dense development, thus eliminating sprawl and preserving green space.

Vulcan’s thoughtful redevelopment of its 60-acre portfolio in South Lake Union (SLU) is a case study for sustainability done right. SLU became the first LEED certified Neighborhood Development Plan in Washington State, largely due to Vulcan’s green development practices that include 25 LEED certified buildings and $30 million invested to date in environmental remediation to clean up more than 35 acres within the former industrial neighborhood. Vulcan also preserved five historic structures and completed one adaptive reuse project, in addition to creating green streets, green roofs, and employing innovative energy and water reduction strategies.

The Swale on Yale runs alongside Yale and Pontius and filters rainwater runoff from Capitol Hill

Seeing an opportunity to make an even bigger impact on Seattle, Vulcan Real Estate became a founding member of Seattle 2030 District, a public-private collaboration of building owners, designers, NGO’s, and local government entities working to significantly reduce building energy use, water use, and carbon emissions in downtown Seattle on a district-wide basis by the year 2030.

Saving Salmon

In 2017 Vulcan became the world’s first Salmon-Safe accredited developer, with the mission to build environmentally innovative projects that help restore our urban watersheds so salmon can thrive.  Salmon depend on clean water for their survival, so when Vulcan plans and constructs a new project, we do whatever we can to minimize and control runoff to make the world a better place — especially for those whose world is nothing but water. To qualify for certification, each project is required to meet the Salmon-Safe development principles of protecting habitat and water quality during construction, incorporating strategies that treat storm water and provide ecologically functioning habitat, as well as a commitment to water conservation methods.

Vulcan has eleven Salmon-Safe-certified projects including high-profile campuses for Google and Facebook and several more are on the horizon.

Did You Know?

Vulcan Real Estate is the world’s first Salmon-Safe accredited developer.

Swale on Yale

The innovative Swale on Yale was created through a joint venture partnership between Vulcan and Seattle Public Utilities to treat storm water before it reaches Lake Union – which is part of the region’s new Salmon migration corridor. The $10 million project reduces the amount of pollution flowing into Lake Union by incorporating a natural drainage system of four biofiltration swales set along two Vulcan-developed blocks in South Lake Union at Yale and Pontius Avenues North.
The Swale is designed to capture and filter 190 million gallons of storm water that previously flowed untreated from Capitol Hill, directly into Lake Union. Today, as the water flows through one of the four vegetated swales, it releases solids such as heavy metals, oil and grease, bacteria, fertilizers, and pesticides. The filtered water is then conveyed back to the storm drain for discharge into Lake Union.

Mixed-Use + Multi-Modal

Recognizing that the influx of real estate, employment and people would put further strain on regional traffic, Vulcan took a bold approach supporting the first line of the Seattle Streetcar system. The Streetcar not only serves as a circulator throughout the mixed-use neighborhood, it also connects workers and residents to light rail which serves the entire region. 

Vulcan remains committed to finding better ways to do business through advancing our technologies to constantly improving our practices because we understand the way we do business impacts the land and the lives of the people around us.

Related Stories