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Emerald Cities Seattle Supports Bold Policies on Climate Action

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Seattle has set a bold goal of carbon neutrality by 2050, along with a Climate Action Plan (CAP) that provides a pathway to get there.  According to the CAP, the current pace of energy efficiency upgrades in commercial buildings is too slow to allow the city to meet its carbon neutrality goal, despite strong technical expertise among contractors, available financing, promotion by the Seattle 2030 District and general support of all things green. 

The obstacles seem to be Seattle’s low energy costs, mild climate and hot real estate market -- despite reasonable paybacks on efficiency investments, building owners are not prioritizing this investment. 

Realizing that a combination of incentives, support programs and regulations will be necessary for Seattle to achieve its goals, Emerald Cities Seattle has convened a policy working group of sustainability leaders that includes building owners, contractors, utilities and community groups.  In conjunction with their own policy development activities, City staff have been at the table as well, gathering input from building energy efficiency stakeholders. 

EC Seattle Local Director Steve Gelb and EC Policy Intern Sarah Shadid, a student at the Evans School of Public Administration, are facilitating the working group.  Shadid has now written a white paper, based on a study of policy alternatives, identifying Seattle’s key obstacles to reaching the CAP goals and documenting U.S and global policies targeting such obstacles. 

The working group has brainstormed potential local policies and placed them on an implementation timeline and is now determining how the policies can work synergistically to support Seattle’s efficiency goals for commercial buildings. 

“The EC Seattle Local Council will present the policy recommendations resulting from the working group’s deliberations to the mayor, City Council and Office of Sustainability and Environment, utilizing its broad-based collaborative membership to drive bold action towards achieving Seattle’s vision for a carbon-neutral future,“ said Gelb.

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