Seattle Policy News
City Council Passes EC Seattle-Backed Energy Efficiency Ordinances, Resolution
EC Seattle has stepped up its work to accelerate efficiency upgrades in commercial buildings and meet the aggressive goals in Seattle’s Climate Action Plan. This intensified effort includes development of the Emerald Plan, which calls for implementation, over time, of building performance standards for existing buildings. Developed in accordance with ECC’s multi-stakeholder model, the Emerald Plan incorporates concepts generated by a group of building owners, codes specialists, utility leaders and energy service providers.
Over the past two years, efforts by EC Seattle and its members have included key support for the city’s Office of Sustainability and for passage of ordinances providing the public with access to energy benchmarking data reported under Seattle’s landmark benchmarking ordinance. Also, to drive improved building performance, EC Seattle supported an ordinance requiring all buildings over 50,000 square feet to engage in a “building tune-up” every five years to ensure that they are operating at optimal performance levels.
Despite passage of these measures, EC Seattle and its partners concluded that it was important to lay the foundation for stronger actions that would likely be necessary in the future. So, working with Seattle City Councilmember Mike O’Brien, EC Seattle authored – and council adopted – Resolution 31714 that aligns the Emerald Plan with the tune-up ordinance, reaffirms Seattle's commitment to the Climate Action Plan and sets expectations for increasing commercial building energy efficiency through the year 2035.
The resolution also requests a report from the Office of Sustainability and Environment (OSE) no later than December 31, 2020, on the energy savings resulting from efficiency tune-ups. If OSE finds that Seattle has not reduced carbon emissions from the commercial building sector by 27 percent compared with 2008 base year levels, the City Council would request OSE to set efficiency targets, policies and regulations for all commercial buildings over 50,000 square feet. These policies would encompass prescriptive measures or performance measures that begin in 2024, increasing through 2035.
The council has also responded to EC Seattle’s emphasis on equity, recognizing that projects supported with city funds should, to the extent possible and in proportion to the level of the city’s contribution, incorporate equity-enhancing requirements for contractors, owners and/or property managers. The council also recognized that the EC Seattle-supported Community High Road Agreement adopted for Seattle’s Residential Retrofit programs is a model for other equity-enhancing agreements.
EC Seattle Creates Real Green Career Opportunities,
Helps Launch Washington Building Engineers Consortium
Joining forces to advance and diversify the building engineering field, EC Seattle and the Construction Center of Excellence have formed the Washington Building Engineers Consortium (WBEC). The consortium came out of EC Seattle’s two years of work with Seattle City Light (SCL) to increase the diversity of the energy efficiency workforce.
As part of that work, SCL sponsored a study by the Seattle Jobs Initiative to determine the current baseline for both energy efficiency construction jobs and building operations jobs. The study was particularly revealing in the area of building operations, which offers strong salary and career opportunities. However, demand for building engineers was far outstripping supply, and the workforce was disproportionately white and older than the population at large.
Among the attendees at WBEC’s November 9 launch event were 35 senior building engineers. The event culminated with significant interest in and commitment to building a career pipeline that will recruit and offer training to residents of underserved communities – work that continues into 2017 and beyond.