Programs & Initiatives

Building Energy Efficiency Policy:  Emerald Cities Seattle is leading a multi-stakeholder group to explore policy opportunities to advance energy efficiency in commercial buildings to support the City’s Climate Action Plan.  Surveying national and international policy models and combining best practices with the outstanding leaders in the private and public sectors in Seattle we have created the Emerald Plan that will be a win for our economy, our environment and our community and put us on a path to become a carbon neutral city by 2050. You can view the entire Emerald Plan here.


RENEW/Multi-family Housing : The RENEW Program will expand energy and water conservation in affordable multi-­‐family housing for the benefit of the building owners and tenants, create quality jobs with workforce standards, and provide career opportunities for underserved communities.  The program will target the 20 non-profit owners of over 200 buildings in the city of Seattle and additional buildings in the metro region as the program develops.  The program has key elements that set it apart from other current efforts to enable sustainability retrofits in the affordable housing market. The program will educate affordable housing building owners about efficiency opportunities setting the stage for engagement in efficiency projects.  Program will provide a building retrofit coach supporting benchmarking, assessments, project development, and monitoring and verification and financing coach to bring new finance options to building owners and assist with selection and attainment of financing for projects.  The program will work with the entire portfolio of each building owner and bundle projects in lots of 4-6 buildings in order to gain efficiencies.


Advancing Workforce Standards and Development with Sustainability: The City of Seattle's Office of Sustainability and Environment advanced Seattle's Climate Action Plan with a City Council resolution toward a carbon-neutral Seattle. Emerald Cities Seattle successfully added language to the resolution to ensure a job-creation approach toward achievement of the environmental goals.  Currently Emerald Cities Seattle is working with Seattle City Light to explore the potential to add a community benefits program connected to some of the incentives they provide to the commercial market.  


Multi-Family Building Research: Emerald Cities Seattle worked with Enterprise Community Partners and Got Green to research opportunities for upgrading Seattle’s multi-family housing stock. Almost 40% of Seattle residents live in multi-family buildings that are typically the last to receive energy efficiency upgrades and many of these residents are of moderate means. This building sector presents a challenge to upgrade due to the split between who pays for the upgrade and who benefits from the reduced energy use. Adding to this are complex finance and tax requirements and competition in the rental marketplace. Emerald Cities Seattle is committed to making sure that all segments of our society benefit from the energy efficiency and will work with our partners to create efficiency in multi-family buildings. The current Affordable Housing Sustainability Program is a pilot for upgrades in all multi-family buildings. 


The Washington Athletic Club was the first large-scale project completed by the MacDonald Miller, CPW and Emerald Cities partnership. Utilizing financing from MacDonald Miller Facilities Solutions and on-bill repayment through Seattle Steam, upgrades to the WAC are paid for through utility savings. 


Large Commercial Building Energy Efficiency Model: Emerald Cities Seattle, in partnership with Community Power Works (City of Seattle), the Seattle 2030 District, MacDonald Miller Facilities Solutions, and Seattle Steam, supported retrofits in large commercial buildings supported by financing structure based on an Energy Services Contract model. The projects were financed by MacDonald Miller Facility Solutions (support from major grants) with no out of pocket expense or capital investment by building owners. Guaranteed energy savings, typically 20-60% is used to offset energy service charges on the Seattle Steam utility bill. Wasted energy is being used to invest in a sustainable Seattle. Projects implemented in 2013 included major retrofits at the Renaissance Hotel, Lake Union Building, Pacific Science Center, Seattle University and Seattle City Light Service Centers.


Community Workforce Agreement: Working with the Seattle King County Building and Construction Trades Council, MacDonald Miller Facilities Solutions, Seattle Steam and the City of Seattle, Emerald Cities Seattle led the creation of a Community Workforce Agreement (CWA) that guarantees workforce and community standards for projects supported by Community Power Works (City of Seattle) funding. Workers are assured of family wages with benefits along with opportunities for apprentices new to the building trades. Provisions for using minority and women owned enterprises as well as hiring graduates of pre-apprenticeship programs that promote opportunities for women and minorities are also part of the agreement. Emerald Cities Seattle tracked and monitored the compliance of this agreement as projects were developed.  



Steve Gelb: Regional Director, North West
220 2nd Ave. | S. #214 | Seattle, WA 98104
E | C 206 713-0952 


About Steve

Steve began his career in the outdoor industry where he held leadership positions in business development and directed product development teams at Eddie Bauer and JanSport. He redirected his career to help improve the environment and make our society more equitable by helping to found SustainableWorks, a residential energy efficiency program in Washington State, and served as its Executive Director for three years. While there, he helped pioneer a community based model with a one-stop-shop that retrofitted over 500 homes. SustainableWorks pioneered High Road Workforce Standards in the residential energy efficiency sector. With Emerald Cities Seattle he has partnered with the City of Seattle on a High Road Agreement for residential contractors and a Community Workforce Agreement for commercial contractors that insures quality jobs and opportunities for the apprentices and those under-represented in the construction workforce. Steve holds a BA in Government from Cornell University.  


Rosalund Jenkins: Econmic Inclusion Manager, North West
220 2nd Ave. | S. #214 | Seattle, WA 98104
E |

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