Green Buildings Resolution

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Today, the Planning, Land Use and Sustainability Committee (PLUS) voted unanimously to recommend the full Council approve green building Resolution 31400, which I blogged about this past Earth Day. I sponsored the resolution and Councilmember Richard Conlin, who chairs the PLUS Committee, is co-sponsor. The full Council will vote Monday, June 3rd.

The City’s green building programs were a topic of discussion for me and other Councilmembers during a PLUS meeting last year on Ordinance 117516, which allows additional design departures under the Demonstration Program for Living Building Design.

Recycle BuildingLeading up to that meeting, concerns were raised by the Wallingford Community Council, the Bullitt Foundation, and Living Building Challenge representatives over a Skanska development that applied to be recognized as a Living Building.

The Committee heard public testimony, including comments from Wallingford Community Council President Lee Raaen and Vince Lyon, former Design Review Program Manager for the City’s Department of Planning and Development (DPD). The Committee discussion that followed raised questions on the City’s process for approving green building projects. In response to the testimony and the Committee discussion, I asked for a resolution calling on the City to clarify, update and enhance its Living Building Challenge and Seattle Deep Green pilot programs.

Resolution 31400 declares the City’s intent to continue promoting and encouraging the development of buildings that achieve the highest level of environmental sustainability by requesting updates and enhancements to its Living Building and Seattle Deep Green pilot programs and requesting the formation of a Green Building Technical Advisory Group to advise the City on sustainable building practices.

The resolution’s most important element is its request to the City’s DPD to form the standing Green Building Technical Advisory Group (originally, I’d proposed a Board). Its role is to advise the City on sustainable building practices; to screen proposals for eligibility; and to assist in developing new or updated sustainable building programs. My intent is to establish consistency in the review of our green building programs and green building applications through a dedicated panel of outside experts.

Advisory group members will have experience in LEED architecture, sustainable building practices, and building energy systems engineering, with one member belonging to a neighborhood community council. The group will meet as needed between now and the end of 2014, at which time DPD will report on the group’s performance and recommend improvements, if called for, as the group continues beyond 2014.

Our city has established itself as a leader in sustainable building since first adopting a Sustainable Building Policy in February of 2000. It has also implemented new programs, regulations, and incentives to encourage the private market to respond to the challenges of building a more sustainable city. An excellent example of how green a building can be is the Bullitt Foundation’s Bullitt Center on Capitol Hill, which calls itself the world’s greenest building, meeting all of the rigorous standards set by the Living Building Challenge.

I hope my resolution helps foster more such green buildings in Seattle.

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