Build Green for a Streamlined Permit Review

City Cabins – Martha Rose Construction. Photo by Modern Productions.

The City of Seattle offers many green building incentives to help meet Seattle’s Climate Action Plan and move towards a carbon-neutral community by 2050. The Climate Action Plan identifies buildings, road transportation (passenger and freight vehicles), and solid waste as key contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. Buildings are responsible for 33 percent of Seattle’s greenhouse gas emissions. The City is aiming to reduce building-related emissions by 39 percent by 2030 and 82 percent by 2050.

Seattle’s Priority Green Expedited incentive is one City of Seattle program intended to reduce building energy use by at least 20 percent. Our permitting incentive provides faster construction permit processing in exchange for building green. Priority Green projects also benefit from a single point of contact to call when you need help, or when you want to know the status of your permit.

Stack House Apartments and Supply Laundry Building – Vulcan Real Estate. Photo by Vulcan Real Estate.

You can save time during the entire permit cycle through our faster processing and review of your green building permit. Our goal is to shorten our initial plan review by at least 4 weeks for projects subject to the Seattle Residential Code (2 weeks for projects subject to the Seattle Building Code). We beat our goal in 2015. Most Priority Green initial plan reviews were completed 6 weeks faster than projects not in the program (3 weeks faster for projects subject to the Seattle Building Code). Check out our current Priority Green performance for yourself.

You can use one of several green building ratings for your eligible new construction project, including, Built Green, LEED, Living Building Challenge, or Passive House. Seattle DCI also offers an Alternative Path for small residential projects. Staff verifies green building thresholds are met under the Alternative Path option. To qualify for the Priority Green Expedited benefits, your project must achieve at least Built Green 4 star, LEED gold with a minimum number of energy points, or meet one of the other green rating options. Energy reduction, water conservation, waste reduction and healthy indoor air quality are required prerequisites for any project in our program.

You can maximize the value of Priority Green Expedited by submitting complete plans, quickly and comprehensively responding to corrections requests, and reducing the number of corrected plan review cycles. Each round of corrections adds time to the permit cycle and devalues the huge time savings gained during our initial plan review.

The Priority Green Expedited program was originally launched in 2009. Since then, we have processed over 700 building permit applications, which is about a 20 percent participation rate.

Seattle City Light offers Built Green incentives, and our land use code incentives for green building align well with Priority Green. You can leverage these opportunities to strengthen your green building portfolio.

For more information, contact:

Jess Harris
(206) 684-7744

Seattle Priority Green—Program Updates & Open House

The Priority Green program is a voluntary green building permit incentive that was established by DPD in 2009-10. The incentive program encourages project teams to reach for a higher level of sustainability in exchange for an expedited permit process. To date, over 400 projects have pursued ratings for Built Green 4 or 5 star, LEED Gold or Platinum, or DPDs Alternative Path, and have benefited from expedited permit review through our Priority Green Expedited program. About 20% of all applications for new construction, with complex reviews, are participating in Priority Green Expedited.

We’ve made some recent requirement changes, and we’re proposing some new requirements. We’re hosting a Priority Green open house to get your feedback:


Monday, April 27,
10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Seattle Municipal Tower
700 5th Ave.
Room 1610

Last year we revised our Priority Green requirements to keep a step ahead of the codes for energy efficiency and sustainability measures. We updated prerequisites for energy efficiency, water conservation, waste reduction, indoor air quality, and stormwater management. We want to hear from you on how these newer requirements are working, and to collaborate with you on how to improve future applications.

In May, we will consider an addition to our Priority Green submittal requirements. We have always recommended that applicants enroll their project with Built Green prior to permit submittal, and now we plan to require it. Likewise, for LEED projects, we will require applicants to register their projects with LEED before applying for a building permit. By requiring enrollment or registration we will:

  • Ensure early communication between the builder or developer and the rating organization
  • Ensure that the correct checklist or version is being used
  • Allow DPD a way to track, and for the rating organization to anticipate, project certification

We want to hear your comments on this new requirement. We also anticipate other minor refinements to the program on which we’ll ask for your feedback.

Our Priority Green open house will have staff from;

  • DPD Priority Green
  • Seattle Public Utilities Solid Waste Division
  • King County Green Tools powered by King County Solid Waste Division
  • Seattle City Light Energy Conservation
  • Built Green

Can’t make the open house? We will post the open house material on our Priority Green website in late April. You will be able to view the material, and then email your comments to