Creating a Roadmap to Becoming a 100% Renewable Energy and Carbon Neutral City

OSE is embarking on funded 100% Renewable Cities Project, a three-year effort to develop equity-centered climate strategies with members of the Environmental Justice Committee and the community. OSE is partnering with Puget Sound Sage, SDOT and City Light in this work. Actions will focus on reducing climate emissions by transitioning to fossil fuel-free heating & hot water, increasing efficiency, electrifying transportation & reducing VMT, and expanding solar and other renewables. A potential initial priority for the group is developing a residential roadmap to achieve carbon neutrality in residential buildings by 2050.

With a generous grant from the Kresge Foundation, Puget Sound Sage is partnering with the City to work with the community to co-create a roadmap to become a 100% renewable energy and carbon neutral city. The City/Community collaboration will work to 1) embed equity in the policies and programs developed to implement the Mayor’s climate agenda and 2) design a roadmap to fully transition Seattle to an equitable, renewable, and carbon-neutral energy future.

Mayor Durkan recently released an updated Climate Action Strategy, a suite of actions designed to significantly reduce GHG emissions from the buildings and transportation sectors, Seattle’s largest sources of emissions. The overarching strategy is to transition these sectors to Seattle City Light’s clean and carbon neutral electricity. The Equity and Environment Agenda includes a suite of process and outcome recommendations to embed equity in the city’s environmental work and creates the foundation for advancing equity through climate action.

Fresh Bucks helping Casa Latina clients eat healthier

Clients at Casa Latina recently had front row seats to a live cooking class as they learned about healthy, affordable meals on a budget. And now, buying fruits and vegetables to make healthy meals for their families just got easier thanks to a partnership between Casa Latina and the Fresh Bucks program.

The Fresh Bucks program is working with Casa Latina to provide Fresh Bucks vouchers for Casa Latina clients to buy high-quality, local produce from any of the 33 farmers markets or six neighborhood grocery stores participating in the Fresh Bucks program in Seattle and King County.

Casa Latina, an immigrant worker rights organization, empowers low-wage Latino immigrants with knowledge and resources to achieve their goals. Araceli Hernandez, Director of Day Worker Center at Casa Latina says, “Our clients face a number of barriers when it comes to accessing federal resources and we work to identify and address gaps— such as food insecurity—that are disproportionally affecting our community. Partnering with the Fresh Bucks program gives our clients the ability to choose healthy foods, regardless of income.”

This year, Fresh Bucks is serving more shoppers by expanding the program from EBT/SNAP (food stamp) recipients to also providing the benefit to families who may not meet the federal requirements for food assistance programs, but still face hardships when it comes covering their food expenses. This expansion is made possible through funding from the City of Seattle Sweetened Beverage Tax.

“This program allows me to stretch my dollar,” said a program participant. “Buying fresh fruits and vegetables can be expensive, but with this support, I can now regularly visit the farmers market to get my produce, and the kids love going too. I want to teach them what I’ve learned about cooking with fresh ingredients.”

Shoppers can use Fresh Bucks at 33 farmers markets in Seattle and King County, as well as six, ethnic grocery stores open year-round. To find participating locations or to find out more about the Fresh Bucks program, visit the Fresh Bucks website.

Got Oil? Now’s the Best Time to Ditch It

If you’re still heating your home with oil, the City of Seattle is offering an instant rebate up to $2,000 right now through the end of 2018 to switch to an energy-efficient heat pump. Here are several reasons why now is the best time to make the switch:

  1. Heat pumps provide year-round comfort, which includes air-conditioning. And, since you need to heat your home in the winter anyway, why not invest in a system that provides air-conditioning too? No more sleepless nights this summer!
  2. Heating oil is not friendly to the environment. Burning fossil fuels emits carbon pollution which contributes to global warming.  In addition, underground oil tanks leak over time and can contaminate soil and groundwater.
  3. Seattle’s electricity is local and clean. Did you know that Seattle City Light provides carbon neutral electricity?
  4. Heating oil is expensive. Oil prices are volatile and you’re likely to pay a full heating season’s worth of oil all at one time. Heat pumps save about 50% of your heating costs.
  5. The heating season is the busiest season for contractors – by installing a heat pump in the off-season you have more time to get additional bids and to coordinate your project – plus you’ll be well prepared when winter arrives.
  6. Once you have switch to clean electricity to heat and cool your home, you’ll be eligible for Seattle City Light’s insulation and window rebates.

For more information about the City of Seattle’s Oil Conversion Rebate Program visit www.NoMoreOilHeat.com or contact Christine Bunch, Christine.bunch@seattle.gov, 206-615-1633

Seattle is now home to TWO LEED Platinum Fire Stations

Photo: Nic Lehoux, DJC.com

Seattle’s Seattle Fire Station 32, located in the West Seattle Junction, opened in early November 2017 and was recently been certified by the U.S. Green Building Council as LEED Platinum. This prestigious distinction demonstrates the best-in-class achievement of sustainable design and construction practices for the 21,534 square foot facility.

The old Station 32 (located in the same location), was approximately 40 years old and needed replacement. The building systems were old, and the station offered inadequate space for modern apparatus and staffing levels. The station was also out of regulatory compliance in many areas, and was structurally substandard for seismic survivability.

Given the old station’s condition and the capacity of the station to play a more central role in West Seattle, the Station was completely rebuilt at the existing location. As part of the rebuild, Station 32 received major improvements and became the lead station for Battalion 7, which covers all of West Seattle, southwest Seattle, Harbor Island and the industrial areas lining both sides of the Duwamish River.

The Fire Station 32 project incorporated sustainable features such as solar hot water systems, photovoltaic arrays, green roof, water-efficient landscaping, energy-efficient LED lighting systems, energy-efficient HVAC systems, recycled building material use, low volatile organic compound (VOC) building material use, natural daylighting of common spaces and individual thermal controls of sleeping areas.

The station’s design was led by architectural firm of Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, and the station was built by general contractor, Howard S. Wright. With the designation of LEED Platinum, Seattle Fire Station 32 joins Seattle Fire Station 20 (West Queen Anne) as two of the only three fire stations currently in the state with LEED Platinum status.

Seattle announces multiple wins in building energy efficiency

New website to track building energy use, energy efficiency improvements in City buildings, and new ENERGY STAR ranking

Today the City of Seattle announced three notable achievements that underscore the City’s progress and commitment to reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in Seattle’s largest buildings. Buildings account for 33% of Seattle’s greenhouse gas emissions and Seattle’s ongoing efforts in this area are critical to meeting our climate goal of becoming a carbon neutral city by 2050.

“During this time when our federal government is actively working to block meaningful climate action, staying focused on aggressively pursuing climate solutions is critical,” said Jessica Finn Coven, Director of the Seattle Office of Sustainability and Environment. “While we are fortunate to have a carbon neutral electric utility, the key to achieving our building energy climate goals will always be rooted in efficiency. Seattle has been a leader in building energy for years and we will continue to lay down a path for other cities to follow.”

The Office of Sustainability and Environment (OSE) released details on the energy use in 2016 of over 3,330 commercial and multifamily buildings, including 85 City-owned buildings in a new data visualization website. Collected as part of Seattle’s Energy Benchmarking Program, the information—including annual energy used per square foot, ENERGY STAR scores, and greenhouse gas emissions—is easily understandable and allows people to see how much energy a specific building uses (its “building performance”) as well as compare it to similar buildings. More detailed building performance data for both 2015 and 2016 is available for download through the City of Seattle’s Open Data portal.

Transparent, accessible data about individual buildings are key tools in driving greater awareness about how much energy buildings use which helps create long-term market demand for energy efficient buildings and protects tenant interests.

“Having this data available and accessible is a prime example of where the market is headed,” said Cliff Majersik, Executive Director for the Institute for Market Transformation. “We know building performance, specifically energy efficiency, is becoming more important to prospective tenants and buyers. Seattle’s tool is especially compelling because it reports on greenhouse gas emissions, identifies potential savings opportunities, and allows users to drill down on a specific building, not just a building type.”

As part of the City’s Resource Conservation Program for municipal buildings, the City of Seattle is tracking and reporting energy use on all its buildings 10,000 sq.ft. or larger, as well as all public service facilities—community centers, libraries, fire stations, and police stations—regardless of size. A recent Seattle report shows energy use in City buildings decreased by 3.7% between 2015 and 2016 which brings the total energy reduction for City-owned buildings to 12% since 2008. This places the City on track to achieve its 20% energy reduction by 2020 goal. Seattle recently established a new target of an overall 40 percent energy and carbon emissions reduction by 2025.

“Given that most of the buildings that will shape Seattle in 2050 have already been built, improving the performance of our existing buildings is fundamentally important,” said Fred Podesta, Director of the Seattle Department of Finance and Administrative Services. “By improving as much of our municipal stock as possible, the City is realizing both significant environmental and economic benefits and setting a great example in the community.”

Seattle’s efforts in driving building energy efficiency show results in national rankings. Seattle climbed two spots over 2016 in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) list of U.S. metropolitan areas with the most ENERGY STAR certified buildings. In 2017, 164 Seattle area buildings, representing over 40 million sq. ft. earned the ENERGY STAR. This was a 22% increase over 2016, leading to a 38% increase in cost savings.

To qualify for the ENERGY STAR, a building must earn a 1 – 100 ENERGY STAR score of 75 or higher, indicating that it is more energy efficient than 75 percent of similar buildings nationwide. ­Is your building a Certified ENERGY STAR building? Visit  www.seattle.gov/energybenchmarkingmap and look for the ENERGY STAR logo on the building’s report view.

Data Visualizations Website Images for use:
Dashboard Snapshot
Building Pop-Up Snapshot
Energy Use Intensity (EUI) graph