Update on Seattle’s Building Tune-Ups Policy

In Seattle’s ongoing commitment to foster energy efficiency, the City passed a Building Tune-Ups ordinance earlier this year. The Building Tune-Ups ordinance phases in a periodic (every 5 years) tune-up requirement for commercial buildings 50,000 square feet or larger, beginning in 2018.

Simple operational changes can yield big savings, and tune-ups are expected to generate 10-15% energy savings for a building, on average. The Tune-Up legislation is a key piece of Seattle’s Climate Action Plan, our roadmap to achieving carbon-neutrality, by helping ensure buildings don’t use energy and water wastefully. Reducing energy and water waste helps the City save resources and move toward its goals to reduce carbon pollution.

Tune-ups will optimize energy and water performance and encourage active management of Seattle’s commercial buildings. Tune-ups would identify and correct no- or low-cost improvements to building operations, focusing on measures that would pay back in 2-3 years. Alternative compliance pathways will take into account buildings that already conduct tune-ups or demonstrate high performance.

What’s Happening Now
City staff, with the help of a technical working group, are now working to develop the accompanying Director’s Rule that will further detail compliance specifications. The rule is being developed through the spring and is anticipated for adoption in late summer of 2016.

OSE is hosting a public meeting to seek input for the Director’s Rule on Wednesday, July 20th, 3-5 pm at the Smart Buildings Center, 1200 12th Avenue S. RSVP to: christie.baumel@seattle.gov

For more information, including dates and locations for future Building Tune-up meetings, visit http://www.seattle.gov/environment/buildings-and-energy/energy-policy, or email NextgenEE@seattle.gov.

On a related note, the Energy Benchmarking Program will be hosting a series of roundtable meetings to solicit feedback from stakeholders regarding the recent benchmarking transparency policy changes. Join a meeting to explore data visualization options, consider building performance metrics to be published and review proposed benchmarking rule changes. Click here for meeting dates and registration.


Paid Sustainability Internship Opportunity – Building Deconstruction

Maximizing the reuse and recycling of building materials is important in reducing our carbon footprint — help Seattle continue this effort.   The Seattle Department of Planning and Development is seeking a paid intern to assist in improving the incentives for the deconstruction of buildings.

The internship includes working with the Priority Green Program Manager to understand the state of the art in permitting incentives, performing research and outreach on regional and national deconstruction programs, interviewing permit applicants who have used the Seattle deconstruction incentive, and creating a report and recommendations on optimizing the incentive.

For more information see the job description and instructions for application. Applications are due August 19, 2014

Seattle Energy Code Bests National Standard

A strong energy code is one of Seattle’s key tools for achieving significant reductions in energy use in the building sector and reaching the city’s ambitious goal of carbon neutrality. Seattle has consistently had one of the most advanced codes in the country and the new 2012 Seattle Energy Code is no exception. That’s the finding of a recently released study comparing Seattle’s Energy Code (SEC) to a national energy standard.

The report, Comparison of the 2012 Seattle Energy Code with ASHRAE 90.1-2010, shows that new buildings in Seattle can be expected to use, on average, 11.3% less energy than buildings nationwide, and to save 9.3% in energy costs. The study compares the 2012 Seattle Energy Code to the latest ASHRAE (American Society of Heating Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers) energy standard for commercial buildings. ASHRAE 90.1-2010 is the basis for building energy codes nationwide and is the standard used by the US Green Building Council’s LEED green building rating system. The Seattle code was shown to be more effective at lowering a building’s energy use in almost every category studied.

“Seattle’s reputation for environmental leadership has grown in part because we hold ourselves accountable to a very high standard,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “We will continue to push ourselves to achieve high environmental outcomes that benefit all Seattle residents.”

Highlights from the report show that the Seattle Energy Code requires:

  • much higher minimum insulation and window efficiency
  • buildings to meet maximum air leakage levels
  • full commissioning—which ensures mechanical systems are operating as designed
  • hourly metering of all energy sources and major end uses

Building energy accounts for 21% of Seattle’s greenhouse gas emissions and 40% nationwide. Improved building design and construction practices in Seattle have led to significant reductions in energy waste locally, and these regulations are frequently incorporated into subsequent regional and national codes.

“One of the best opportunities to improve building energy performance and reduce greenhouse gas emissions is at the time of construction,” said Jill Simmons, Director of the Office of Sustainability & Environment. “Seattle’s strong energy code is a powerful tool to ensure that new buildings are designed to be energy efficient for decades to come.”

Diane Sugimura, Director of Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development, noted that “Seattle’s energy code not only supports our environmental goals, but it helps building owners and tenants save money and supports a growing market for green building and technology.”

City of Seattle releases progress report of key environmental goals

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray today released Moving the Needle, an environmental progress report that pulls together Seattle’s key environmental goals and reports on their progress and achievements.

“Seattle has been an environmental leader for years, with many laudable environmental goals throughout the city’s offices and departments. Until now, these have all been tracked separately,” said Murray. “Moving the Needle presents the key goals and metrics and paints a single picture of how we are doing on the environmental commitments we’ve made over the years.”

Moving the Needle reports on 35 goals across seven areas: buildings and energy; transportation and land use; food; waste; water; trees and green space; and climate change. This report provides a comprehensive look across environmental sectors, and demonstrates how the goals work together to create a bold environmental vision for the Emerald City.

View the report here.

“Informed by Moving the Needle, I look forward to working with the community to identify where we are strong, where we can do better, and where there are real opportunities for innovation,” said Murray. “In the coming months I will convene environmental leaders and community partners to ensure the city’s environmental priorities reflect a strong commitment to equity, race, and social justice and I plan to put forward an environmental action agenda by Earth Day 2015.”

Moving the Needle will be updated biennially to track progress over time. The report was developed by the City’s Office of Sustainability and Environment, which works with City departments, community organizations, nonprofits, residents, and businesses to help Seattle achieve its environmental goals.

– See more at: http://murray.seattle.gov/city-of-seattle-releases-progress-report-of-key-environmental-goals/#sthash.Ch67Rjov.PurSA5fi.dpuf

NW Green Home Tour, April 26

Free and fun for the whole family, the NW Green Home Tour 2014 is a self-guided tour featuring 35 healthy and green new homes and remodels in the Seattle area and beyond.

Get inspired by projects in all shades of green, from kitchen remodels to cutting-edge new homes. Learn how to go solar, conserve water, lower your energy bills, and create a healthy home environment.

In addition to the homes on the tour, 12 Sustainability Stops will offer healthy refreshments, demos, and giveaways.

Download the official tour map, which is also printed in the April edition of Natural Awakenings magazine.

Presented by the Northwest EcoBuilding Guild, Built Green, and Greenhome Solutions.

Green Home Tour Volunteers – Apply now if interested!