Programs & Policies

Click a topic below to see a list of the City's environmental initiatives for that area.

Climate & Air

Land Use Code
The Land Use Code amendment process is designed to ensure that changes to existing regulations benefit the public while meeting the City's design standards.
Environmentally Critical Areas Code
Governs areas of Seattle that provide critical environmental functions.
Floodplan Development Code
Standards and restrictions for construction and development in designated flood hazard areas in the city.
Shoreline Master Program
Regulates shoreline development to protect ecosystems, encourage water-dependent uses and provide for maximum public use and enjoyment of the shorelines.
Zoning Code
Governs the use and development of land in Seattle.
Energy Code
Regulates the energy-use features of new and remodeled buildings.
Tree Protection Code
Regulating the number and amount of vegetation that may be removed from a property.
Bicycle Program
Using our streets to provide safe, affordable travel choices and that encourage people to get out and enjoy their neighborhood on foot or by bike. In doing so, we reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve the health of or residents and make it comfortable for people of all abilities to move around.
Transit Program
Making walking, biking, and riding transit the go-to travel choices in Seattle.
Pedestrian Program
Improving pedestrian safety and to encouraging more walking by creating an environment where people can walk safely and comfortably.
Complete Streets
Designing streets for pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders, and persons of all abilities, while promoting safe operation for all users, including freight.
Seattle Comphrehensive Plan
Guiding growth with a goal of fostering a healthy, vibrant and sustainable city for years to come.
Neighborhood Planning
Neighborhoods working with the City to develop a great vision for their community.
Urban Forestry Program
Programs connecting the community and the City in efforts to preserve and grow our urban forest.
Climate Action Plan
Seattle Climate Action Plan puts Seattle on a path to carbon neutrality by 2050
Seattle Transportation Plans
Road transportation accounts for 40% of Seattle's greenhouse gas emissions. Seattle's transportation plans identify improvements that also reduce emissions.
City Light Integrated Resource Plan
Outlines how the utility will meet anticipated customer needs over the next 20 years. Seattle City Light has made a committment to meet future demand through conservation and renewables.
Urban Forest Stewardship Plan
Urban trees do more than beautify a community. Pollution reduction, soil stabilization, and heat island effect reduction are just a few of climate benefits trees provide.
Waste & Water Management Plans
Waste management impacts our greenhouse gas emissions and Seattle's approach to stormwater management is a critical component in how we are preparing for the impacts of climate change.
Pedestrian Master Plan
A long-term action plan to make Seattle the most walkable city in the nation.
SCL Strategic Plan
Lays a foundation for making informed decisions to meet current and future needs benefiting the public and Seattle City Light customers.
Resource Conservation Management Plan
Aiming for 20% energy savings in municipal buildings by 2020.
Disaster Readiness and Response Plan
Explains how the City will engage its collective resources to respond to a major incident or disaster.
All Hazards Mitigation Plan
The plan identifies actions to take to reduce or eliminate the long-term risk to human life and property from natural hazards.

Buildings & Energy

Energy Benchmarking and Reporting
Learn how to comply and find out how your building’s energy use compares to others in Seattle. Required annually for non-residential and multifamily buildings 20,000 sf or larger.
Construction & Demolition Waste
Seattle has recently adopted new recycling requirements for construction and demolition materials, and there are resources to help you comply, as well as information on how this can benefit your project.
Seattle Energy Code
Seattle’s commercial and residential energy codes are some of the most advanced in the country.They set a baseline for energy efficiency in new construction and substantial alterations.
Green Factor
Seattle’s Green Factor ordinance requires commercial projects to employ various strategies to increase horizontal and vertical green space. Strategies are weighted based on their benefit to the environment, the urban experience, and the public good.
Stormwater Code
The City of Seattle’s Stormwater Code requires projects to implement green stormwater infrastructure to the maximum extent feasible. GSI examples include permeable pavement, bioretention facilities, and green roofs.
Historic Preservation
Preserving Seattle’s existing building stock reduces embodied energy expenditures (energy associated with the extraction, refining, manufacturing and shipping of materials). In addition, it enhances a sense of place and can reinforce community fabric. Historic preservation regulations restrict what can be torn down, maintaining historic and notable elements of Seattle’s architectural legacy.
District Energy
District energy is one of the innovative policy areas the Office of Sustainability and Environment leads to find new ways to heat and cool neighboring buildings efficiently and capture wasted energy.
City Facilities
The City of Seattle is working hard to make municipally owned and operated buildings models of efficiency through implementation of the Sustainable Buildings and Sites Policy and the Resource Conservation Management Plan.
Sustainable Buildings & Sites
Raising the bar for City construction and improvement projects and building performance.
Renewable Energy
Seattle's Energy Supply is Growing Greener. You can help!
2030 District
High performance building district in downtown Seattle.
Green Permitting
The Seattle Department of Planning and Development offers expedited and facilitated permits for projects meeting advanced green building standards.
Capital Green Toolkit
Capital GREEN outlines environmentally responsible strategies that apply toward City of Seattle capital projects.
Community Power Works
Community Power Works helps residents upgrade their homes to save energy and money, while growing our local energy efficiency construction economy.
Green Building Task Force (Archived)
The year-long Green Building Task Force produced a report and policy recommendations that helped shape the identification and prioritization of Seattle’s current green building initiatives. Visit the archived site for background.
City Light Conservation Potential Assessment
Seattle City Light’s 2012 Conservation Potential Assessment analyzes Seattle’s current electricity use patterns and identifies energy savings potentials for the residential, commercial, and industrial sectors.
Resource Conservation Management
Comprehensive plan for conserving resources in City facilities.

Transportation & Land Use

Electric Vehicles
Promoting electric vehicles is an important part of the City’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gases from cars and trucks on Seattle’s roads, which make up 40 percent of our city-wide footprint and are the single largest source of emissions.
Pedestrian Program
The Seattle Department of Transportation's (SDOT) Pedestrian Program seeks to encourage more walking by creating an environment where pedestrians can walk safely and comfortably.
Way to Go, Seattle!
Way to Go, Seattle! is your one stop source for SDOT incentive programs, mobility apps and info about changing to walking, biking, using transit, and carpooling.
Neighborhood Greenways
Neighborhood Greenways provide people of all ages and abilities with comfortable and attractive places to walk, ride a bike, skate and run and connect people to parks, schools and local shops.
Neighborhood Planning
Transportation planning is a vital element to ensure our neighborhoods have easy access for pedestrians, transit, bicyclists, trucks and cars.
Bike Master Plan
The goal of this Department of Transportation plan is to triple the amount of bicycling in Seattle between 2007 and 2017, and to reduce the rate of bicycle collisions by one third during the same timeframe.
Ped Master Plan
A key element of the City's pedestrian program, the Pedestrian Master Plan is a long-term action plan to make Seattle the most walkable city in the nation.
Seattle's Comprehensive Plan
Our comprehensive plan, Toward a Sustainable Seattle, is a 20-year vision and roadmap for Seattle’s future and provides the framework for most of Seattle’s big-picture decisions on how to grow while preserving and improving our neighborhoods.


Food - Local Food Action Resolution
Establishing goals, creating a policy framework, and identifying planning, analysis and actions for the purpose of strengthening Seattle's food system sustainability and security.
Zero Waste Strategy
A suite of strategies designed to meet the goal of recycling 60 percent of waste produced in City by 2012 and 70 percent by 2025.
Food Packaging
All food service businesses are required to provide alternatives to throw-away food service containers, cups and other products in all food service businesses
Growing Food in Planting Strips
Information for residents who want to grow food in their planting strip.
Parks Urban Food Systems
Parks Urban Food System programs are a hub of activities that provide access to healthy food, opportunities for active recreation, and environmental awareness.
Human Services Food Programs
The City of Seattle funds or administers meal programs that benefit children, homeless youth and adults, and low-income individuals and families.
P-Patch Community Gardening
P-Patch Program is Seattle's community gardening programand is open to Seattle residents.
Food & Farms Roundtable
The Farms and Food Roundtable, jointly convened by the City of Seattle, King County, and Pike Place Market, identified key recommendations to preserve farmland and increase market and distribution opportunities for local small and mid-sized farmers in King County.
Food Action Plan
Seattle's vision for a healthy food system is guided by the Food Action Plan. Nearly all of the City's food initiatives originate from this Plan.
Seattle Comprehensive Plan
Guiding growth with a goal of fostering a healthy, vibrant and sustainable city for years to come.
Climate Action Plan
Charting a path to Carbon Neutral by 2050.


Food Service Packaging Requirement
Rule requires all food service businesses - restaurants, grocery stores, delis, coffee shops and institutional cafeterias - to replace all food service products designed for one-time use with products that are either compostable or recyclable.
Plastic Bag Ban
Prohibits all Seattle retail stores from providing customers with single-use plastic carryout (shopping) bags/
Recycling information in one handy place - for your home or apartment.
Reduce and Reuse
Resources to help you reduce waste (eliminate junk mail, for example) and buy or donate used items.
FAS Green Purchasing
The City of Seattle's commitment to promoting environmental stewardship and reducing greenhouse gas emissions when buying goods, materials, services, and capital improvements.
Salvage & Deconstruction
Deconstruction involves disassembly of a building by a crew of people. Items of value, such as doors and cabinets, can be kept intact and materials can be separated by heavy equipment and salvaged for reuse or recycling.
Solid Waste Plan - Seattle Public Utilities
The updated Solid Waste Management Plan describes how the City of Seattle will manage waste for the next 20 years, including recycling, composting and other zero waste strategies.


Stormwater Code Compliance
Our stormwater regulations protect people, property, and the environment from damage caused by stormwater runoff. Our stormwater codes also satisfy the City’s obligation to comply with our Municipal Stormwater Discharge National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit, issued by the Washington State Department of Ecology.
Green Stormwater Infrastructure
Seattle will manage 700 million gallons of stormwater with green infrastructure by 2025.
Shoreline Master Plan Update
The Shoreline Master Program (SMP) is mandated by the state Shoreline Management Act (SMA), created by citizen referendum in 1972, and includes the goals, policies, and regulations that govern land use and activities within the Seattle Shoreline District.
GSI Exec Order
Mayor's 2013 executive order sets a goal for the City to increase green stormwater infrastructure (PDF).
Residential RainWise Program
Seattle Public Utilities' RainWise program provides resources, tools and incentives to help you manage stormwater at home, reduce flooding and protect Seattle's water.
Restore Our Waters
City of Seattle’s commitment to take actions and promote partnerships that protect and improve our creeks, lakes, the Duwamish River and Puget Sound.
Sewage Overflow Prevention
The City's long-term plan and projects required to prevent sewer and stormwater overflows during heavy rain events. This work is led by Seattle Public Utilities, with the Office of Sustainability and Environment involved in developing citywide policies on green stormwater infrastructure as one element of overflow prevention.
Stormwater Management Plan
The City of Seattle Stormwater Management Plan was developed for compliance with the Ecology-issued 2012 NPDES Phase I Municipal Stormwater Permit.

Trees & Green Space

Tree Regulations
Summary and links to information on regulations for street trees and trees on private property.
Parks' Environmental Stewardship
Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation has many programs designed to protect the environment, including sustainable building practices, education and outreach, and pesticide reduction.
Street Tree Planting and Care
Department of Transportation page helps you select an appropriate tree and location in your right of way and follow the necessary processes for permitting and maintenance.
Trees for Neighborhoods
Single- and multi-family dwellings account for the largest portion of the city's land mass (67 percent) and therefore the biggest opportunity for planting new trees. This means many Seattle residents and building owners can make a huge difference in helping us reach Seattle's tree canopy goals. The City, through Seattle Public Utilities, offers an annual tree giveaway and training program.
Urban Forest Stewardship Plan
A long term vision for increasing tree canopy cover in Seattle.