UPTOWN Professional Jan 2, 2013

DKA Goes — and Stays — Green

By Alex Gale
DKA Architecture

Many businesses see being green as an optional luxury at best and an expensive burden at worst. But as the painfully drawn- out recovery from the Great Recession chugs slowly along, cautious firms are discovering that using less energy, reducing waste and repurposing used products simply makes business and eco sense.

Seattle-based DKA Architecture has known this for years. Serving nonprofits and the public sector, the community- focused firm learned the benefits of an environmentally friendly approach. “A lot of our clients really couldn’t afford to do much more than to take an old building and repurpose it,” says Donald I. King, who founded DKA 25 years ago.

This is primarily why the city of Seattle hired DKA for a groundbreaking 2000 to 2004 repurposing of an old Starbucks roasting factory into a state-of-the-art police support facility, one of the first LEED gold-certified renovations in Washington State. “The building still smelled of coffee,” King recalls. DKA turned the gallons of groundwater that seep onto the site, which is located in a tidal mudflat zone, from an expensive liability into a plus by creating a water reclamation system that flushes toilets, washes vehicles and waters plants, saving around 1 million gallons of water a year. DKA also recycled furnishing and woodwork left behind in the roasting factory, further bringing down the costs and environmental impact.

“We competed against some of the larger firms in Seattle for this account,” King says. “But we had this specialty because we’d previously done a lot of cheap, sustainable renovation work.” Yet another way that smart businesses are making green by being green.