Innovative Pilot Project Seeks to Grow a Forest More Resilient to Climate Change

An innovative pilot project will replant portions of logged land now owned by Seattle City Light to grow a new forest that could be more resilient to climate change.

Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust and its partners – City Light, Seattle Public Utilities and the Northwest Natural Resource Group — received a $140,000 grant to reforest portions of the Stossel Creek area in the Tolt watershed northeast of Carnation. The grant money is being provided by the Wildlife Conservation Society through its Climate Adaptation Fund, a program supported and established by a grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

“Stossel Creek presents a unique opportunity to test innovative, new habitat restoration methods designed to increase resiliency to climate change for Western Washington forests,” said Jon Hoekstra, executive director of the Greenway Trust.

A volunteer from Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust clearing invasive brush.

Trees on the 154-acre site were harvested by a private land company in 2012. Since then, the site has experienced new plant growth, but with few trees. Invasive species have taken hold in some areas. City Light purchased the land in 2015 as part of its Endangered Species Act Early Action Plan to conserve and enhance habitat for steelhead.

Crews and volunteers will reforest the site with native conifer species, such as Douglas Fir and Western redcedar. Instead of using only subvarieties that are native to Washington, this project also will include trees sourced from southwestern Oregon that are better adapted to warmer temperatures and drier summers.

“The climate of the Stossel Creek area is projected to be similar to southwest Oregon’s by the end of the 21st century,” explains Crystal Raymond, a climate adaptation specialist who helped secure the grant while she worked for City Light. “Therefore, the trees adapted to southwestern Oregon are expected to be better suited to the Stossel Creek site as the climate warms. By increasing the tree genetic and species diversity, the site’s resiliency to climate change will increase over time.”

Work to control invasive plant species and site preparation at Stossel Creek will begin this spring and planting new trees will begin in the fall. After planting, the team will have several opportunities to monitor success and share lessons learned from the project.

This pilot project will inform future climate-adapted restoration practices for lands owned by City Light, Seattle Public Utilities and other owners in the region. The long-term goal of the reforestation effort is to establish a diverse forest that will be adapted to the climate of the mid to late 21st century.

Recently, KING 5 visited the site to cover the project. Click here to watch the story featuring City Light’s Denise Krownbell.

Four Ways to Stay Cool This Fourth of July

There’s nothing better than Seattle in the summertime. But with temperatures approaching 80 degrees this Fourth of July, you may be looking for ways to beat the heat. Here are a few tips from the U.S. Department of Energy* on how to keep cool and conserve energy without breaking the bank! Check out this month’s issue of Light Reading for more innovative ways to conserve energy this summer from planting a tree to using your slow cooker. Click here to take a look!

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 City Light Named Environmental Champion for Fourth Consecutive Year

Each year, Market Strategies International runs the Utility Trusted Brand & Customer Engagement Survey (.pdf) for its Cogent Reports. The survey spans the markets of 131 residential electric, natural gas and electric/gas combination utilities across four regions: East, Midwest, South and West. For the fourth year in a row, the survey results led to City Light being named an Environmental Champion.

To be designated an Environmental Champion, a utility must facilitate consumption management, enable environmental causes, encourage environmentally friendly fleets and buildings, and generally show its customers a dedication to promoting clean energy. These traits comprise the survey’s Environmental Dedication Index. City Light was one of the highest-rated utilities in the study, scoring second in the West region on the survey index.

In 2005, Seattle City Light became the first electric utility in the nation to reach carbon neutral status. The utility is actively involved in protecting fish and wildlife, promotes renewable energy development and has the longest-running energy conservation program in the country.