Seattle to the World: Seattle's Sustainable Building Policy


Improving the Building Standard

The story:
In 2000, Mayor Nickels and the City Council approved Seattle's Sustainable Building Policy, which requires all new City-funded projects and renovations involving more than 5,000 square feet of occupied space to earn a rating of Silver or higher according to the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED rating system.

Now overseen by the Department of Planning and Development, the Sustainable Building Policy is one component of Seattle's larger Environmental Management Program.

The policy doesn't simply increases the number of city buildings that are designed and constructed with the latest sustainability advances in mind. It also provides visible working models of green building throughout the city and fuels growth in the local green building industry. In part because of supportive policies like this, Seattle boasts not only one of the highest concentrations of LEED facilities in the nation, but also one of the most developed regional hubs of green building innovation in the world. And the experience gained through building green civic facilities has increased the local store of knowledge on green building best practices, so that Seattle is now able to provide a toolkit for residents and private developers who want to follow their lead.

Below, you'll find some images of Seattle's LEED-certified civic buildings. For a full list, click here.

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Seattle City Hall


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Carkeek Park Environmental Learning Center


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Seattle Justice Center


Why it's Worldchanging:
Here at Worldchanging, we're inspired by the knowledge that the best designs for improving the human experience, environmental stewardship and other aspects of life here on Earth are cropping up every day, all over the globe. But knowing those solutions are out there is only the first step, and knowing accomplishes very little if we choose to take a passive stance toward implementation. By upgrading Seattle's building policy to reflect some of the best the green building knowledge that's available to us, legislators have automatically raised the standard of building for our city and prevented excuse-makers from continuing to use outdated models for our civic buildings. But even as we applaud the City of Seattle for its foresight in 2000, we'd like to note that LEED Silver is no longer the best we've got. The next step we'd like to see is a phase-out of energy-hogging, land-destroying building practices all over our city and our country as innovators in the building and urban planning realms continue to raise the green building bar.


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This post is part of the series, "Seattle to the World: 100 Best Innovations from the Emerald City."

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