<< Chapter 22 |  Table of Contents |  Chapter 24 >>

Chapter twenty three: Green Practice

This chapter discusses how to make your living, workspace and art practice greener, healthier, and safer for you and the environment. Seattle is a national leader and innovator of "green" practice. Many local initiatives and programs are geared towards creating a greener and healthier Seattle. Some are community-driven or government-sponsored, while others are regional arms of national environmental initiatives. Square Feet Seattle only discusses programs that have a land and/or space-related focus.

This chapter highlights programs and projects that may be useful in securing funding or other assistance in the development of artists' spaces, incorporating green technology into spaces or in generating possible artistic collaborations.

In addition to reading the information presented in this chapter, review this chapter's Resource section, which provides extensive links to materials, resources and professionals to assist you in greening up your space and art practice

City Initiatives

The City of Seattle's Green Building Program cut its teeth on City-owned green facilities, starting in 2000. The program evolved in 2006 to include a greater focus on greening all of Seattle's built environment.

City Green Building, is a consolidated program now located within the Seattle Department of Planning and Development (DPD). This structure captures green building opportunities with more permitted construction projects and allows internal capacity and program development to support private sector green building efforts..

No project is too small
Whether you're working on a simple home remodel, a new apartment building or office tower, or a neighborhood pocket park, sustainable building can add value to your project.

The City Green Building web site is designed to help you with green building projects in these categories:

City Green Building services include:

  • Incentives - financial and code-based incentive packages for your project, and a referral service to utility conservation programs
  • Technical assistance - through the department's new green permitting programs design team coaching, assistance with code barriers, design charrettes, and integrated design process; referrals to resources on green building practices, materials, and technologies
  • Education - publications, green home remodel guides, workshops, lecture series, continuing education, and more; targeted to city staff, developers, design professionals, CEO's, building managers, homeowners, and real estate agents
  • Recognition - case studies to highlight successful projects and show others the how to's.

As a part of DPD, City Green Building has the opportunity to green permit review operations, address code barriers and develop incentive programs to make green building standard practice in Seattle. For more information, contact us. We look forward to hearing from you. Meet our team

Program History
For historical information on the Seattle Green Building Program, visit ourProgram History and City Projects webpages. Other background information includes a 5-year anniversary report and a 2007 annual report.

Other Initiatives

Other national initiatives to make Seattle greener:

Alliance for Healthy Homes
The Alliance for Healthy Homes (AHH) website offers an extensive resource section on a variety of space-related health issues. AHH focuses primarily on preventing environmental health hazards and finding solutions that are accessible and affordable to consumers. AHH also addresses environmental justice issues, and suggests comprehensive and holistic approaches to environmental health problems.

The Community Environmental Health Resource Center (CEHRC), a collaborative project between AHH and community organizations nationwide, helps community organizations to identify health hazards in homes and document substandard conditions.

To learn more about AHH, contact 202-543-1147. For more information about CEHRC, contact 202-543-1147 or visit their Website.

Center for Neighborhood Technology
The Center for Neighborhood Technology's (CNT) Website offers a variety of resources and information on green living, sustainable environments, traffic, building codes and more. CNT's primary goal is to build more livable, sustainable, and prosperous urban communities. To learn more about CNT, visit their Website or contact 773-278-4800.

Earthwatch - Seattle
Earthwatch offers volunteer participation in scientific field research projects throughout the world. In addition to travel, some projects have photography and illustration opportunities for which you may be paid.

Earthwatch is a local volunteer group that supports the Earthwatch Institute and sponsors several Seattle-area events each year. Earthwatch Institute offers a series of expeditions. To learn more visit the Website.

Environmental Justice Data
Environmental Justice Data (EJD) profiles the environmental condition of every community in the U.S. Profiles provide information on area health hazards, polluting facilities, and air and water quality, and identifies areas with disproportionate exposure to toxic chemical releases and cancer risks from hazardous air pollutants.

You can obtain a copy of your neighborhood's environmental justice analysis through the EJD website. EJD is a component of Scorecard: The Information Pollution Site.

Environmental Law and Policy Center
The Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC) Website provides information on a variety of environmental issues such as energy and transportation alternatives. A Chicago-based advocacy organization, the ELPC's primary goals are:

  1. To achieve cleaner energy resources and implement sustainable energy strategies
  2. Promote innovative and efficient transportation and land use approaches that produce cleaner air and more jobs; and
  3. Develop sound environmental management practices that conserve natural resources and improve the quality of life in our communities.

To learn more about ELPC, contact 312-673-6500, or visit their Website.

Additional Resources
There are many national and international efforts to address sustainability, environmental and green living issues. For more information about nonprofit organizations, visit Guide Star's Website, which provides information on various categories of nonprofits (i.e. artistic, environmental, political, etc.), contact information and web links

De-toxing Your Art

Green living is more than just a space issue: It is a lifestyle choice. Artists are often exposed to many hazardous and toxic materials. Minimizing your exposure and/or production of these substances is important, as it impacts both you and the environment.

Two ways to green up your artistic process:

  1. Choose equipment, materials, production methods and products wisely, and
  2. Participate in material reuse and recycling programs.

Many products and practices that are toxic to both you and the environment can be either substituted for less harmful materials and methods, or eliminated altogether. Even after you change materials, you must give yourself time to learn how to use the products.

Look into substitutions for:

  • Ceramic Substitutions
  • Drawing and Painting Substitutions
  • Fiber and Textile Substitutions
  • Graphic Art Substitutions
  • Metalworking Substitutions
  • Photography Substitutions
  • Printmaking Substitutions
  • Sculpture Substitutions
  • Woodworking Substitutions

The University of Illinois at Chicago's Health in the Arts' on-line library also offers information on safer art substitutes and artist health-related issues in general. The City of Tucson, Arizona's Health and Safety in the Arts Website features a database on safe handling and substitutions for art materials.

Besides incorporating eco-friendly equipment, materials and production processes into your practice, you can also participate in material exchange programs, which allow you to exchange and/or purchase materials that are considered by-products or waste from particular industries. For example, a textile production company might have excess fabric cuts it needs to sell, or a paper manufacturer may have misprinted stationery.

Look into Material Exchange Programs:

  • FreecycleSeattle Connects individuals who are throwing away goods with others who seek them. Provides opportunities to trade in a variety of goods such as furniture, clothing, appliances, computers and everything in between. To participate in the exchange, all items must remain free.

TIP: Review Chapter 22: Safe and Healthy Practices and Chapter 19: Utilities for information on how to properly dispose of hazardous art waste.

Best Practices

Consider how you can incorporate green technology and materials into your live and work areas. Green technology allows you to have an eco-friendly, low-toxin or non-toxic space, which means a healthier environment.

Many of the design techniques, material choices and green technologies discussed in this section can be adapted for a variety of spaces. As you begin using green design and materials in your space, review Chapter 21: Rehabbing Your Space for additional information on permit issues, space layout and design, hiring design professionals, and more. Also consider:

  • Products : When choosing products, utilize those obtained by sustainable methods (such as tree farm products) and/or contain recyclable elements. Using products that are locally produced also reduces the pollution created during transportation. Avoid products that use CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) or VOCs (volatile organic compounds) during their manufacture, installation, maintenance and demolition, and/or emit CFC and VOC gases. While CFC production has been banned in the U.S., some older buildings still have old refrigerators and freezers or other equipment that contains CFCs. VOC gases can cause headaches, nausea and irritation to your eyes and nasal passages. Paints, sealants, carpet, furniture and other products are now available that contain no- or low-VOCs. Most of these products will contain labels indicating if they are as no- or low-VOC. Use appliances, equipment and tools that are energy efficient and environmentally friendly.Energy Star , Waterwise, and GreenGuard are just a few of the companies that test products for energy efficiency, water usage, low-VOC, etc. These organizations offer listings of products that meet their requirements. View the Websites for additional information on guidelines and standards, as well as product lists.
  • Building Operation and Management: Look for ways to minimize energy use, such as combining heating and power systems. This process is known as cogeneration, and can lead to energy efficiency and lower heating and power costs. Also incorporate renewable energy systems and minimize unproductive and wasteful energy habits such as leaving on the lights and other equipment when not using them.

The technology and materials that are readily available in the metropolitan area, require a small to medium financial commitment and are considered beneficial to the environmental needs specific to the Seattle area.

You may face barriers in trying to go green, particularly in building code restrictions. For example, the Seattle Building Code does not allow for composting toilets or waterless urinals, and requires at least 1.6 gallons of water per flush. Another example involves requirements for ventilation systems. The Code stipulates that ventilation systems must be designed to accommodate the estimated maximum occupancy load of a space.
So, what does this mean? Essentially, don't give up on trying to incorporate environmentally safe practices into your space because of a few hurdles. Be flexible with your design needs, and make sure that the practice you want still meets the City zoning and building code requirements. This might require working with an architect or other design professional to adequately incorporate green and sustainable technologies and practices into your space.
In addition to the information contained in this chapter, review the American Society of Interior Designers Sustainable Design Resource Center (DRS), which contains articles, case studies and resources on sustainable design. The site also offers directories of green design and building professionals, and of products.


American Society of Interior Designers (ASID)
Offers a product and resource directory.

American Solar Energy Society
Advances the use of solar energy to benefit people and the environment.

Building Green
Offers a detailed listing of more than 1,800 environmentally building products, with descriptions, manufacturer information, and links to additional resources.

Center for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technology (CREST)
Information regarding sustainable living and design, including green products and practices, environmental planning, and case studies.

City Green Building

The website includes sustainable design resources, incentives, and examples of best practices.

Community Energy Cooperative
Nonprofit membership organization helping consumers and communities obtain information and services they need to control energy costs.

Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)
Independent federal regulatory agency that conducts research, develops product standards, orders recalls, and provides information to the public about a variety of consumer products.

DOE: Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Network (EREN)
Provides access to hundreds of web sites and thousands of online documents on energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Earth 911
Offers extensive resources about recycling. (Also, see SPU website.)

Energy and Environmental Building Association
Promotes energy-efficient, environmentally responsible buildings.

Energy Star
Provides information and listings of energy-efficient and environmentally friendly equipment such as washers and dryers.

Environmental Assessment Association (EAA)
An international organization dedicated to providing members with information and education in the environmental industry relating to environmental inspections, testing, and other areas.

Environmental Building News
Articles, reviews and news stories on energy and resource building practices and healthy buildings.

Environmental Design and Construction Magazine
Articles, news stories, reviews and technical documents on green building and remodeling.

Environmental Health Information Services (EHIS)
Posts the website of Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP), a peer-reviewed journal dedicated to the discussion of the effects of the environment on human health.

Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC)
A Midwest public interest environmental advocacy organization working to achieve cleaner energy resources and implement sustainable energy strategies.

Environmental Scorecard
Source for accessing local environmental information, including pollution. Profiles 6,800 chemicals, making it easy to find out where they are used and how hazardous they are.

Florida Green Building Coalition
Nonprofit dedicated to improving the built environment.

Florida Solar Energy Center
A research institute for the University of Florida.

Forest Certification Resource Center
Comprehensive resource on forest management and product certification.

Forest Stewardship Council
Changes the dialogue on and practice of sustainable forestry worldwide.

Global Green
Offers extensive articles and information about green building.

Green Blue
A catalyst to transform the production of goods.

Green Projects Specifications
CSI MasterFormat explains and identifies areas to incorporate environmental specifications into a project.

Green Roofs
Website on vegetative roofs. Topics include an introduction to eco-roofs, their history, technical information, plant lists, and case studies.

Green Seal
Strives to achieve a healthier and cleaner environment by promoting eco-friendly products and services, resource and habitat conservation, and minimization of global warming and ozone depletion.

King County's green building program.

Offers extensive resources and information on sustainable building and design, including several source books and directories.

GreenGuard Environmental Institute
Certifies low-emitting interior products.

GreenGuard Product Guide
Offers a guide for selecting low-emitting products and materials.

Online resource for green and sustainable building materials and furnishings.

Hardwood Information Center
Offers information and resources about U.S. hardwoods and hardwood products, including information on green and sustainable building products.

Indoor Environment Program
Conducts research to reduce the energy used for thermal conditioning, distribute ventilation air in buildings, and provide good indoor air quality.

Indoor Environmental Quality (CDC/NIOSH)
Resources, documents and topics on workplace IAQ.

International Solar Energy Society (ISES)
UN-accredited NGO present in more than 50 countries.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)
The complete framework for assessing building performance and meeting sustainability goals. Also, review LEED for Commercial Interiors.

Lighting Design Lab
This is a Seattle City Light education and demonstration facility with resources on energy efficient electric lighting.

Minnesota Sustainable Building Guidelines
Multipurpose design tool focused on sustainable building design issues.

NYCOSH: "The Clipping File"
More than 150 links to news items about safety and health, arranged by topic and chronologically within a topic. Topics include asbestos, cancer, reproductive hazards and much, much more.

Searchable database of green building products, with a broad selection of books and publications on green building.

Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing (PATH)
Dedicated to accelerating the development and use of technologies that radically improve the quality, durability, efficiency, performance, and affordability of America's housing.

PVC Alternatives Database
This Greenpeace database, designed for do-it-yourselfers and professional builders, offers information and resources on available alternatives to PVCs.

Quick Guide to Green TI's

City Green Building's sustainable tenant improvement guides.

Resource Venture http://www.resourceventure.org/
A Seattle Public Utilities service that provides outreach, education and technial assistance to help businesses conserve resources, reduce or prevent pollution and become more sustainable.

Saving Water Partnership
A website to help conserve water at home and at work.

Scientific Certification Systems
Established in 1984 as the nation's first third-party certifier for testing pesticide residues in fresh produce. The company has evolved to become a certifier of multiple facets of the food industry and of environmentally sound management.

Second Use
An eco-friendly used building materials store.

Through independent auditing, certification and the promotion of certified forest products, SmartWood improves forest management by providing economic incentives to businesses that practice responsible forestry.

Smoke Tube
MSA's ventilation smoke tube kits are for use where controlled generation of visible smoke is desired in order to determine the velocity of slow-moving air currents and establish their direction and flow patterns in shafts, mines and tunnels.

Solar Energy Industries Association
Information on contractors, incentives for buying solar, and policy initiatives.

Solar Energy International
Provides education and technical assistance through on-site workshops and online courses.

Solar Energy Topics
Solar Energy 101 from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Information on recycling and salvage / deconstruction case studies.

Tips for Daylighting
California Institute for Energy Efficiency and U.S. Department of Energy Website that presents guidelines for daylighting, quick references for designers, rules-of-thumb, and how-to's.

U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC)
Coalition promoting environmentally responsible buildings.

Urban Land Institute (ULI)
Provides reasonable leadership in the use of land to enhance the total environment.

Water and Energy
A northwest-based resource on implementing energy technologies and practices.

Water and Waste Water
Information on water recycling and reuse. Has an extensive resource list on water and wastewater.

Water Wiser
Offers extensive information, articles and links on water efficiency, irrigation, grey water harvesting, etc.

Waterless Urinals
The title says it all!

Xeriscape: Greenbuilder.com
Xeriscaping is a landscaping method that conserves water and protects the environment.

Information on a form of landscape design that minimizes the use of water and chemicals in the designing of landscapes.

<< Chapter 22 |  Table of Contents |  Chapter 24 >>