Driving Energy Efficiency in City Buildings

OSE and the City’s capital departments are working to shrink our energy use and reduce GHG emissions in City-owned facilities. Seattle’s Resource Conservation Management work is a fairly technical body of work but absolutely critical in terms of leading the way to meeting the Citywide goal for an 82% reduction in building-related GHG emissions by 2050. The aim of our Resource Conservation Management program is to ensure that our city-owned buildings are operating as efficiently as possible, with a near-term target to achieve a 20% reduction in energy use by 2020. Long-term this puts us on the path to significantly reducing the GHG emissions of the City-owned building portfolio.

OSE works across City departments to identify and implement priority energy efficiency projects that complement the efforts of individual departments and that accelerate progress toward greater effiency and reduced GHG emissions. This focused efficiency work means that we are on track towards meeting our 20% energy reduction goal. From 2008 through 2015 we have achieved a nearly 9% reduction in energy use across the City’s buildings, which corresponds to a 15% reduction in our building related carbon emissions in that same timeframe.

In 2017-2018, we will be continuing dedicated efforts to improve efficiency and reduce emissions through the following actions:

  • Building tune-ups: operational improvements for our largest buildings. This work is part of our commitment to complete mandated Building Tune-Ups in advance of the compliance deadlines for the private market. Those over 200,000 square feet are under way and due to be completed by October 2017.
  • Parking Garage LED lighting upgrades
  • Building Stairwell LED lighting upgrades
  • Advanced Rooftop Unit Control upgrades, and
  • Comprehensive energy upgrades at 10 individual buildings.

For more information about Seattle’s resource conservation management work, please contact Wes Hoppler, wes.hoppler@seattle.gov


Green Infrastructure Can Help Save Our Salmon


Salmon are a cornerstone of our cultural identity in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest. Salmon are vital to our economy, our environment and our sense of place. The health of our native salmon runs has been identified as an indicator of the overall health of Puget Sound and local streams. Scientists have been researching the connection between declining salmon populations and urban stormwater pollution. These scientists have discovered a major threat to the health of our salmon but they have also discovered a simple solution that mitigates the impacts 100% of the time.

As our human population grows, so does the magnitude of pollutants released into our waterways. Large quantities of contaminants such as metals, petroleum-derived compounds like oil, grease, vehicle exhaust, and detergents accumulate on our roadways and parking lots where there is no absorption. Every time it rains, these containments are washed directly into storm drains and into our creeks, lakes, the Duwamish River, and Puget Sound. Researchers have now found a direct link between polluted urban stormwater runoff and salmon mortality.

A recent straightforward study exposed salmon to stormwater runoff from a local highway.  In every case, the salmon died within 4 to 6 hours. The conclusion was clear: stormwater pollution is lethal to salmon. However, the study also tested a potential solution. When researchers first filtered the highway runoff through a column filled with a soil mixture and then exposed the salmon to this cleansed water, they survived 100% of the time.
Filtering water through a living, plant-soil system is the basis for green stormwater infrastructure (GSI). The City of Seattle has listened to the science and determined this is a direct influence we can have on Puget Sound. By using GSI we can help to improve water quality and prevent more contaminants from reaching our waterways. For this reason, we have set an ambitious goal to accelerate the use of green infrastructure in our city and are also supporting regional green infrastructure efforts.

The Washington Nature conservancy created a great short video highlighting this research. You can find the video at http://www.washingtonnature.org/cities/solvingstormwater

For more information on the research: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0045653514014805

For more info on what the City of Seattle is doing with GSI visit our webpage: http://www.seattle.gov/environment/water/green-stormwater-infrastructure