Seattle is implementing a series of regulations, benchmarks, and codes targeting greenhouse gas emissions from the buildings sector, including an open-source platform for energy performance.

The Challenge

Buildings are the second-largest source of carbon emissions in Seattle, primarily due to the use of natural gas for heating and cooling. Reducing building emissions is critical to meeting the city's ambitious climate goals.

The Solution

Seattle's recently adopted package of four NextGen efficiency programs will reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in new and existing buildings via a coordinated suite of strategies, including regulations, technical and financial assistance, and building performance data. For new buildings, the Seattle Energy Code builds upon national policy guidelines and sets the bar higher for energy efficiency standards. For existing buildings, owners are required to publicly publish energy performance figures annually, creating awareness and a competitive environment for energy efficiency in the private sector. On top of this, every five years, buildings are required to tune up energy and water operations to make further efficiency improvements. These policy tools are expected to ratchet up emissions savings in a sector notoriously difficult to impact, in order to achieve climate neutrality by 2050.

Environmental Benefits – The building tune-up program reduces energy consumption and reliance on fossil fuels, which lowers associated life-cycle impacts on ecosystems and health. It also reduces water consumption, which is important for a water-scarce city like Seattle.

Economic Benefits – Energy savings from the programs are expected to save approximately $44 million per year on utility bills.

About Cities100

Presented by C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40), Sustainia and Realdania – Cities100 2017 showcases leading solutions to urban climate challenges in five sectors: Energy, Waste, Adaptation, Mitigation and Transportation.

Available online and in print, Cities100 provides stakeholders an accessible format to explore achievable solutions for climate action in cities, and will be a useful tool for relevant groups ranging from impact investors and development organizations, to mayors and city governments. You can access the full Cities100 2017 publication online here.

  • Economic
  • Environmental
Emissions Reduction
81,000 metric tons of CO2 equivalent saved from buildings via NextGen program
Share article

More Case Studies