Signaling an important vision for Seattle, President Obama has selected the city as a launchpad for his Better Buildings Challenge. Los Angeles, Atlanta and Seattle are the first three focus areas for the program that aims to shed 20% of building energy use by 2020.
According to the Seattle PI, the city will join forces with a number of local businesses to promote energy efficiency in the city’s buildings. A group of civic leaders, working with federal officials, helped to form the Seattle 2030 District.
The District contains a fairly important group of commercial landlords and managers, including CB Richard Ellis, City of Seattle, Clise Properties, Hines, Kidder Mathews, King County, Pan Pacific Hotel, Unico Properties, LLC, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Vulcan, Westin Hotel, and Wright Runstad. Check out their website to see a map of downtown spaces that will be cooperating.
After sparking the thought of creating a high-efficiency building district in downtown Seattle in 2009, the small group bloomed into 40 partners by 2011. The District received a Climate Showcase Communities Grant from the US Environmental Protection Agency to seed the organization. The District has also found funding from a $20 million Better Buildings grant from the US Department of Energy.
But what type of reductions are we talking? What type of building standards do we expect new and existing buildings to meet?
According to the website, the District is requiring that existing buildings attain a 10% reduction in energy and water use by 2015; the number goes to 50% by 2030. New buildings are immediately obligated to reduce energy consumption by 60%, going carbon neutral by 2030. Lofty goals, but there appears to be no mandate in place for how these goals are attained. How do we produce energy? What types of resources are used? Is there a local focus?
It will be interesting to see whether the District intends to mandate a specific building process. As we all know, the building process and energy production each generate a lot of environmental concerns. Whether the District will select an existing building standard, generate their own or simply demand that the end-game be met, is anyone’s guess. But, its nice to see Seattle become a focal point for smart building.