Living Building and 2030 Challenge Pilots Effective August 1

Seattle’s buildings produce about one-third of our greenhouse gases. Reducing these emissions are critical in achieving our goal to become a carbon-neutral community by 2050. To help achieve that goal, SDCI’s updated Living Building Pilot and new 2030 Challenge Pilot go into effect on August 1. The Living Building Pilot can be used for new and existing buildings. The 2030 Challenge Pilot is focused on development that includes existing buildings.

Mayor Durkan signed legislation that created the 2030 Challenge Existing Building Pilot Program and updated the Living Building Pilot Program on July 2, 2018. After signing the legislation, Mayor Durkan released the following statement:

“Seattle has always invented the future and the creation of this new pilot further establishes us as a leader combating the negative impacts of climate change. Our city doesn’t have the luxury of entertaining climate change denial. With building energy as a leading cause of pollution, our City can remain on the leading edge of construction and operation of buildings that meet the highest green standards while fostering a healthy environment.”

Developers that are constructing new buildings or building additions that meet the program standards can get the following benefits:

  • Up to 25 percent more floor area
  • Up to 30 percent more floor area if saving an unreinforced masonry structure
  • 5 feet of additional height for residential construction or 15 feet of additional height for non-residential construction in zones with height limits of 85 feet or less
  • 25 feet of additional height for residential construction or 30 feet of additional height for non-residential construction in zones with height limits greater than 85
  • Additional design departures for the pilot programs as specified in SMC 23.41.012D


Both pilots are performance-based; developers are required to conduct post-occupancy monitoring to show that the environmental goals have been met.   The green building program standards that are the basis of these pilots focus on different aspects of the environment, but both require a minimum energy reduction of 25 percent.  Both pilots require developers to participate in the Design Review Program so the project is a better fit with neighborhoods.

The 2030 Challenge Pilot:

  • Allows up to 20 projects that include renovation and preservation of portions of an existing building
  • Requires projects to be located within an urban center, excluding any lots located in the Shoreline District or within the International Special Review District
  • Requires specific standards for energy, water, and transportation efficiency
  • Prohibits the use of on-site combustion of fossil fuel for space and water heating


The Living Building Pilot:

  • Allows up to 17 projects (three projects have already submitted MUP applications)
  • Applies citywide, excluding any lots located in the Shoreline District.
  • Requires specific standards for energy and water efficiency, and requires either full Living Building Certification or Petal Certification
  • Prohibits the use of on-site combustion of fossil fuel for space and water heating.


More information can be found on our Priority Green webpage.   If you are interested in participating in these programs, please request green building information on your land use pre-submittal application.

Any questions may be directed to:

Jess Harris
Green Building Program Manager

City Council to Review Proposed Changes to the Living Building and Seattle Deep Green Pilot Program

Mayor Ed Murray delivered proposed changes for the Living Building and Seattle Deep Green Pilot Program to the City Council for consideration. At this time, the proposed changes eliminate the Deep Green option to focus the pilot program on Living Buildings. Meanwhile, DPD will continue to develop recommendations for updated new Seattle Deep Green option.  We are working with a Technical Advisory Group to develop our recommendations.

The Living Building and Seattle Deep Green Pilot Program facilitates the development of innovative deep green buildings to:

  • Reduce environmental impacts
  • Test new technologies
  • Serve as a model for development throughout the region and country

The Pilot Program allows developers to request departures from the Land Use Code through Design Review in recognition that the Living Building Challenge™ and the Seattle Deep Green program require the highest levels of sustainability.

In summary, the proposed changes would:

  • Eliminate the existing Seattle Deep Green option (to allow the City and the Living Building and Deep Green Technical Advisory Group time to fully evaluate and develop a new pilot program for Deep Green)
  • Revise the minimum standards of the program related to energy use to align with the new Seattle Energy Code
  • Require an independent report to verify compliance
  • Modify or remove some available departures
  • Increase the maximum penalty for projects failing to demonstrate full compliance with the standards from 5 percent to 10 percent of the construction costs

The City Council will review the proposed new rules. A briefing and public hearing at the Council’s Planning Land Use and Sustainability (PLUS) Committee is scheduled for July 1, 2014.  New rules could be adopted in July-August of 2014. For more information, visit our Living Building Pilot Update website, or contact:

Aly Pennucci, Senior Planner
(206) 386-9132