Building For Life by Tom Reese

US photographer Tom Reese explores how human beings can improve buildings – our critical habitat – by seeking guidance from the natural world. There are now seven billion of us on earth, and as most will live in the world’s cities for the first time in human history, we have an urgent environmental need to construct and operate the places where we live and work in ways that are healthier and more sustainable.

Nature’s systems and designs offer us inspiration and hope, if we choose to pay attention. To make this visual connection, Reese has photographically documented what will be the greenest and most energy efficient commercial building in the world alongside some of the best systems and designs found in nature. Reese believes that most people share the need to have a connection to the natural world, and yet much of what we have built for ourselves seems to separate us from it.

Nature, over time, favours designs that are the most functional and that make the most efficient use of scarce resources. The new Bullitt Center building, in Seattle, Washington, US, shares these aspirations. This six-story office building will produce enough electricity and water to fulfill all of its own needs. It will heat and cool using highly efficient new systems. It will produce zero waste. Its materials are healthier too – free of the many toxic chemicals that are still commonly used in construction today. The building is designed to be beautiful and to encourage its tenants to develop habits that are more sustainable and ultimately more productive too.

The Bullitt Foundation has adopted an environmental philanthropy, in essence a mission to safeguard the natural environment and promote responsible human activities. The building has been planned as a living laboratory with environmental goals at the highest level ever set, testing many technologies and philosophies for the first time. Its challenge is to become the first building of its size to be officially designated a “Living Building” and therefore an example for the world.