Local Government Leading: City of Seattle

Welcome to the first installment of the Local Government Leading Beat Blog series, where we spotlight Better Buildings local government partners recognized as winners of Bloomberg Philanthropies' American Cities Climate Challenge. We start our series with the City of Seattle, Washington.

Bloomberg Philanthropies emphasized that Seattle’s Climate Action Plan was one of the top factors in their decision to select the city as a winner of the Climate Challenge. The Plan, adopted in June 2013, focuses on reducing emissions and supporting vibrant neighborhoods, economic prosperity, and social equity. The Plan identifies key areas with the greatest need of impact: building energy and waste, road transportation, and increasing Seattle’s community resilience to natural disasters and environmental change.

As a winner of the Climate Challenge, Seattle will receive technical assistance and support valued at up to $2.5 million. The city will put its prize into action with plans to further improve building energy efficiency and reduce emissions from the transit sector. Bloomberg Philanthropies will work with the city through its acceleration program to accomplish the following actions by 2020:

  • Catalyze building efficiency and sustainability by expanding financing and incentives
  • Create green jobs through an innovative pilot program with Seattle colleges
  • Incentivize public transit, bikes, and walking through new programs
  • Implement strategies based on the Seattle Department of Transportation congestion pricing study
     

Seattle is also an active and valued participant in the Better Buildings Challenge, leading by example and reducing energy use in municipal buildings 13% from a 2011 baseline towards a goal of 20% by 2020.

These energy savings have resulted from a range of activities, including facility audits to identify opportunities for improvement, tuning controls, and making capital improvements such as LED lighting retrofits and high-efficiency HVAC upgrades.

The city is also a founding member of the Seattle 2030 District – a public-private collaborative, high-performance building district that works to reduce energy use, generate local economic activity, and pave the way towards a sustainable future.

Both municipal and private building owners participate in the city’s benchmarking and transparency ordinance, which requires certain buildings to report their energy use publicly. More recently, a building tune-up ordinance was enacted to help building owners identify opportunities for improved operational efficiency and implement low- and no-cost fixes. These improvements reduce building energy use 10-15% on average.

Through all of these efforts, Seattle brings together its citizens and businesses to push the envelope on saving energy and improving the built environment.