Green Rainier Building features environmentally friendly design

March 9, 2009

By Jeff Richards

An architect’s drawing shows the planned garden growing on the roof of the Rainier Building to be built at 485 Rainier Blvd. Contributed

An architect’s drawing shows the planned garden growing on the roof of the Rainier Building to be built at 485 Rainier Blvd. Contributed

A man standing on the roof of a building is not an everyday sight. A man standing on the roof of a building holding a watering can, tending to plants is even more unusual.

 But while vegetation growing on the roof of a building may not be common, three local businesses hope to make the look a mainstay in Issaquah architecture.

Tom Sessions Insurance Agency, Taylor Engineering Consultants Inc. and Merrill Design Inc. have joined to invest in a new office building at 485 Rainier Blvd. N that will exhibit some of the newest efforts in environmentally friendly architectural design.Bill Taylor, of Taylor Engineering, said designing the building as the owner gave him the opportunity to do what he wanted and make it as environmentally aware as possible.

“When you’re working for others, there are other issues that come up, such as finances,” he said. “It certainly costs more, but we’re willing to pay that premium.”

The green roof itself has many environmental benefits, including the reduction of heating, the reduction of storm water runoff and the filtering of pollutants out of the air.

It will also give the building a look consistent with the surrounding architecture, an important aspect of the design, said Jim Merrill, of Merrill Design.

“We were very conscious about downtown Issaquah and how it functions aesthetically,” he said. “We wanted the building to fit in.”

The building’s roof will have trees, heather and stone walkways. Merrill said the business owners hope to eventually hold meetings there.

Another environmental benefit of the building’s design will be the use of permeable asphalt for the parking lot.

That type of asphalt allows the movement of water around the building, so it goes back into the earth rather than into storm drains along with the wash-off of vehicular-related pollutants.

“We like it, because it takes the rainfall and puts it in a more natural setting,” Taylor said. “It puts it in the soil, which soaks it up back into the water table.”

He said the design concept of the building is to soak up 100 percent of water runoff.

Merrill, who handled the bulk of the building’s design, said they originally hoped to attain a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design gold certification. 

LEED certification, given out by the U.S. Green Building Council since 1998, judges the environmental sustainability of building construction.

Ultimately, the certification cost too much for a small business such as Merrill’s and his partners, but he said they still plan to build to LEED standards.

He said they hope to break ground on the site in June, and from there, they have a seven-month construction schedule.

The three businessmen came together due to the lack of property for sale in Issaquah. Merrill and Tom Sessions were looking to buy the Rainier property at the same time, and a real estate agent suggested they partner. 

Taylor came on board later, and they were awarded their loan in October on a day when the stock market had fallen more than 800 points and the bank bailout was not yet finalized.

Despite the economic uncertainty, Merrill said they were unfazed in their pursuit of a new office space.

“I’m a firm believer in buy low, sell high and hold in the middle,” he said. “This building was us holding in the middle.”

All three businesses have been a part of the Issaquah community since their inception and none considered moving elsewhere, he said. 

Tom Sessions Insurance has been in Issaquah for 20 years; Taylor Engineering began in Issaquah in 1993; Merrill Design has been around since 1975, when it was called Merrill Construction.

This is the first building ownership of an office space for all three businesses.

“We’ve all been paying rent our entire business careers,” Merrill said. “We decided it was time to start paying rent to ourselves.”

Reach intern Jeff Richards at 392-6434, ext. 236, or Comment on this story at

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One Response to “Green Rainier Building features environmentally friendly design”

  1. Suet Long on April 16th, 2009 6:25 pm

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