West 8th Building

File Type: Free Content, Case study
Release Date: January 2010
Average Rating:       (0 Ratings)
West 8th building lobby

Fast Facts

Address: Seattle, Washington
Company/Developer: Touchstone Corporation
Project Specs: Speculative
Project Type: Office Building
Square Feet: 500,000

Project History: Recognizing that growth of downtown Seattle was progressing to the lesser developed area north of downtown, Touchstone conceived the West 8th project in pursuing an assemblage of three separate contiguous land parcels. The site was located in a transitioning area that was viewed as an area of growth surrounded by amenities and great transit access. As a corner site with low-rise development on three sides, Our vision was to create a sustainable, highly efficient office building to accommodate the city’s growth and provide life to the surrounding neighborhood with employment traffic and supporting retail. West 8th is 28 stories of Class A office space and comprised of approximately 473,000 square feet of office space, 13,000 square feet of retail space, and a 13,000-square-foot childcare facility.

Commitment to Sustainability

At Touchstone, we believe sustainable development is the key to long term prosperity for our business, community and society. We have a long track record of building high performance buildings.  Touchstone recognizes that sustainable development goes beyond a LEED certification: sustainability is about reducing pollutants and carbon footprint through new technologies, sensible and cost effective design, smart urban planning and through spaces that make users healthier and more productive. Many of our team members contribute directly to the goals and advancement of sustainability through sponsorships, organization efforts, speaking engagements, and publications. Touchstone is highly involved in policy work with respect to high performance buildings.

Green Features

Economic Analysis

  • West 8th was developed for approximately $150 million. The 20,000-square-foot floorplates are highly efficient and large for a CBD building. With minimal column obstructions, the floorplates are highly efficient for mid-sized to large tenants. These efficiencies improve communication and collaboration amongst employees, and tenants can plan for three to eight percent less square footage. This is a cost savings to the tenant and a competitive advantage to the landlord. The building’s systems, design and common areas provide for efficiencies that result in building operating costs that beat the market by $0.50-$0.75/sf. West 8th operates at approximately $9/sf. Assuming the standard high-rise office building operates at $13/sf, the building will recognize a savings of $2 million per year.
  • Touchstone recognized a large economic advantage by receiving its LEED Gold CS designation. Through a City of Seattle incentive, we achieved a bonus floor area ration (FAR) of .75 because of its LEED designation. On West 8th’s 34,285 sf lot, the base FAR was 5 and the maximum FAR was 10. In Seattle, you have to pay $22/sf to get the maximum FAR. With the LEED Silver designation, Touchstone received .75 FAR at $22/sf – a $565,702 recognized value.
West 8th building

Site Sustainability/Materials Use

  • Consistent with the goal of sustainable development, Touchstone employed various waste management and material use strategies. Seventy-five percent of the project’s waste was diverted from landfills, 20 percent of the materials used were recycled, and 20 percent of the materials used were sourced from regional suppliers.
  • Touchstone instituted a non-reflective white membrane roof and lighter concrete tiles on the deck to reduce the heat island effect in downtown and lessen the building’s thermal load.
  • Recycled over 82 percent of demolition and construction waste.
  • Thirty percent recycled content used in construction materials.
  • Fewer harmful greenhouse gas emissions.
  • We used low VOC paints, adhesives, coatings and sealants.
  • We created a non-toxic “green-housekeeping” program.
  • Indoor chemical pollutant source control.
  • We installed carbon monoxide sensitive garage fans for safety and energy savings.
  • Proximity to our region's best public transit is a major sustainability advantage. Light rail is nearby, the South Lake Union Streetcar runs alongside the building, and many bus routes are within one block. Additionally, tenants are able to conduct much of their business with other companies and public agencies on foot, and can choose to live within walking distance.
  • Parking options include space for automobiles, motorcycles and scooters on five underground levels with preference given to electric and low-emission vehicles. There are two above ground levels of short-term parking. There are 92 racks dedicated to safe, convenient bicycle storage, with showers and changing rooms.
  • Touchstone used the step-back area required by the city to include a 10,000-square-foot outdoor landscaped deck. It was designed to be private from the street level and away from the outside noise, yet low enough to minimize wind and cold during inclement weather. This garden terrace is a unique feature exclusive to West 8th tenants, with a water feature, trees, plantings and multiple seating configurations that seem miles away from the typical office environment. With its wireless connectivity and proximity to the building’s conference center, it provides a unique indoor-outdoor experience rarely found in an urban high-rise building.

Energy Efficiency

  • Using a baseline building average for electricity usage of 6,758,429 KWH at a charge of $365,097, West 8th expects to use 5,604,252 KWH at a charge of $305,013. The building’s savings over the ASHRAE 90.1-2004 baseline is over 15 percent.
  • West 8th optimized the glazing percentage on windows to maximize natural light and minimize energy losses. High (13') floor-to-floor heights, unobstructed views on three sides, and an optimized length to width ratio contribute to light penetration into the interior spaces. The building also makes extensive use of vision glass while still maintaining energy efficiency with the use of Solarban 70 glazing, which maximizes light penetration and minimizes heat gain. The result is energy-efficient space that allows daylight in 95 percent of the space and views for 90 percent of the space.
  • Additional floor-by-floor air handling units were used allowing tenants to condition their spaces individually. These also allow energy savings because fire/smoke dampers were not required in ductwork as it exits shafts. This can save approximately 10 percent of the fan energy used to push the air through the ductwork.
West 8th building public area

Water Efficiency

  • Water efficient landscaping resulted in a reduction of water usage by 50 percent. The total building water use reduction was 44 percent over a conventional building of its size. This not only saves on operational costs, but is also consistent with the Pacific Northwest salmon-safe culture.
  • Water saving fixtures were used throughout the building. Dual flush water-closets were used in both men’s and women’s toilet rooms, along with 1/8 GPF urinals and low flow battery operated self-generating lavatory faucets. These high-tech faucets have a small generator that uses the water flow of the faucet to generate power to charge the battery. Touchstone has previously used waterless urinals, but the fixtures caused a build-up of salt deposits which required higher maintenance. At West 8th we used the 1/8 GPF (one pint) urinals as they function more effectively and don’t have the costly maintenance of waterless urinals.


  • This project was remarkable for its construction superlatives.
  • The concrete core was built in as short as a 3-day cycle, the fastest cycle time in Seattle history and likely the fastest in U.S. history. A 5-7 day cycle is typical. This produced tremendous cost and schedule savings. Keys factors included strong training, preplanning, pre-assembly, and transportation sequencing.
  • The unitized exterior curtain wall was also installed with great speed – up to three floors per week!
  • During the foundation construction phase, the 5,800 cubic yard mat pour was among the largest in Seattle history. Workers poured 505 cubic yards per hour, peaking at 680 cubic yards per hour. The pour involved three batch plants and 72 trucks, and lasted over 23 hours.