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Environment | Energy

Seattle Takes the Lead on Green Buildings

The Vance building in downtown Seattle has committed to the 2030 District's energy reduction goals.

The Vance building in downtown Seattle has committed to the 2030 District's energy reduction goals.

Jonathan Rose Companies

SEATTLE, Wash. - At a launch ceremony this week, Mayor Mike McGinn called the Seattle 2030 District a strong contributor to the city’s economic development. “Where are the green jobs? You’re making them right here!”

Brian Geller, the executive director of Seattle 2030 District, says the city is going to become America’s first large-scale high performance building district and will set an example for other cities in the country.

2030 District is a public-private partnership between a wide range of stakeholders, including city, county, utilities, property owners and community groups. The partnership is responsible for millions of feet of commercial building space.

Property owners or managers sign a letter of commitment to jointly cut the amount of energy they use to half of the national average. They also agree to cut their water use to half of the average for commercial buildings in the city.

Vulcan Real Estate is one of the participants of 2030 District. The company owns over a billion dollars in property locally. Brandon Morgan, of Vulcan, says saving energy means saving money as energy prices go up. “Those prices ain’t coming down any time soon. It’s almost an imperative to do what you can to save energy.” Morgan went on to say that in the last two years the company saved 14 percent in energy but the cost of energy had gone up by 14 percent, a net savings.

For property owners, being energy efficient is hot. Morgan says tenants are already demanding green building measures. “Tenants may make their rental choices by whatever track records those buildings have in terms of energy use.” Morgan says, “High energy efficiency buildings – they’re going to be the most desirable.”

And the city wants to be seen as a desirable place to conduct business. Property owners can get rebates on certain energy conservation measures – up to 70 percent in some cases. Charlie Cunniff, of Seattle’s Office of Economic Development, says helping property owners get more efficient is good business for the city. “We, as a city, have made the decision to generate all our power through conservation.” Cunniff says, “We have actually realized that it’s cheaper for us to buy conservation than it is for us to buy a new power plant.”

The goals are voluntary. In the coming years Seattle 2030 District hopes to add more participants and set a model for other cities to follow.

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