Seattle has long been regarded as a leader in sustainable design initiatives in the built environment—with programs like LEED, Living Building Challenge, Salmon-Safe and Net Zero Energy having gained traction and recognition over the last few years in particular—and as of early July, the city has a new Pilot Program officially in the works.
On July 2nd, Mayor Jenny Durkan signed legislation approving the 2030 Challenge Pilot Program, a new land use initiative to incentivize developers to make their renovations of existing buildings more energy efficient.
The 2030 Challenge Pilot program encourages the construction of buildings that meet the highest green standards and environmental quality: the pilot program provides up to two additional floors and a 25 percent floor area ratio bonus (30 percent for unreinforced masonry buildings) for developers if their projects meet the performance goals of the 2030 Challenge for Planning, which is an internationally-recognized standard for decarbonizing the built environment. The Challenge for Planning calls for a 70 percent reduction in energy usage, a 50 percent improvement in water management and a 50 percent decrease in transportation emissions, according to the 2030 District’s web site.
One of the major goals of the pilot program is to open the lines of communication between project developers and the rest of the AEC community in terms of considerations around how to renovate existing buildings, according to Susan Wickwire, executive director of the Seattle 2030 District, a public-private organization who worked with the city to develop the pilot program. “What the Pilot brings to the conversation is consideration…maybe, the developer would have first thought to demolish the building and then build from the ground up. But [with the program], they might [decide] to put more height onto the building and recoup some of the investment,” she said. “So I think there can be different conversations with the developers. We’re working with the architecture firms, GCs and land use attorneys who talk with developers to start with an awareness effort to have this as one option on the table.”