Seattle

United States
Mayor Jenny A. Durkan, Elected 2017

Case Studies

The City of Seattle aims to attain carbon neutrality by 2050, and plans to reduce both commercial building energy use by 10% and residential building energy use by 20% by 2030. To support these targets and its Climate Action Plan, the City adopted the Seattle Building Energy Benchmarking and Reporting Program in January 2010, directly drawing on the expertise of cities pursuing similar policies, such as New York City, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. 

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A partnership between the Port of Seattle, two major cruise lines (Princess Cruises and Holland America Line) regulators and industry has resulted in important emissions reductions while vessels berth. Simply by “plugging in” to the city grid and turning off their engines, participating vessels are cutting annual CO2 emissions by up to 29% annually, with financial savings of up to 26% per call. This simple practice has great scope for expansion.

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The Seattle Justice Centre is 14-story building housing Seattle's municipal courts and police headquarters in a dense urban setting. Seattle mastered its design challenge to create distinct and unique identities for both the courts and the police headquarters within one sustainable building. It has unique features including: naturally vented "double skin" façade that allows light but minimizes heat, and a "green" roof with drought-resistant and low-maintenance plants that remove solar heat, stores rainwater and filters pollutants out of the air while returning some oxygen to the atmosphere. It cuts 816 tons of CO2 annually and $32,600 in avoided mitigation savings. Utility savings from reduced energy and water use total $113,4000 per year.

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Seattle seized the opportunity to improve sustainability during a time of unprecedented capital improvement that began in the late ‘90s. It did this by first requiring all new City buildings over 5,000 square feet to meet new LEED™ (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) building ratings that measure the sustainability of buildings, and by providing financial, height and density bonuses for private projects meeting LEED™. Subsequent initiatives have included priority permitting, energy benchmarking and an updated policy for City buildings. As a result it now has one of the highest concentrations of sustainable buildings in the country and a powerful sustainable building industry.

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