Programs & Policies

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

Climate & Air

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.
Governs areas of Seattle that provide critical environmental functions.
Standards and restrictions for construction and development in designated flood hazard areas in the city.
Regulates shoreline development to protect ecosystems, encourage water-dependent uses and provide for maximum public use and enjoyment of the shorelines.
Governs the use and development of land in Seattle.
Regulates the energy-use features of new and remodeled buildings.
Regulating the number and amount of vegetation that may be removed from a property.
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.
Making walking, biking, and riding transit the go-to travel choices in Seattle.
Improving pedestrian safety and to encouraging more walking by creating an environment where people can walk safely and comfortably.
Designing streets for pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders, and persons of all abilities, while promoting safe operation for all users, including freight.
Guiding growth with a goal of fostering a healthy, vibrant and sustainable city for years to come.
Neighborhoods working with the City to develop a great vision for their community.
Programs connecting the community and the City in efforts to preserve and grow our urban forest.
Seattle Climate Action Plan puts Seattle on a path to carbon neutrality by 2050
Road transportation accounts for 40% of Seattle's greenhouse gas emissions. Seattle's transportation plans identify improvements that also reduce emissions.
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 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 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.
A long-term action plan to make Seattle the most walkable city in the nation.
Lays a foundation for making informed decisions to meet current and future needs benefiting the public and Seattle City Light customers.
Aiming for 20% energy savings in municipal buildings by 2020.
Explains how the City will engage its collective resources to respond to a major incident or disaster.
The plan identifies actions to take to reduce or eliminate the long-term risk to human life and property from natural hazards.

Buildings & Energy

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.
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’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.
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.
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.
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 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.
The City of Seattle has a number of policies and plans to make the City's buildings and operations cleaner, more efficient and greener. Includes sustainable purchasing, green fleets and pesticide reduction policies, as well as the latest sustainable building and energy efficiency policies.
Raising the bar for City construction and improvement projects and building performance.
Seattle's Energy Supply is Growing Greener. You can help!
An interdisciplinary public-private collaborative working to create a high-performance building district in downtown Seattle. The 2030 District uses the Architecture 2030 Challenge for Planning performance goals for energy, water, and transportation CO2 reductions.
The Seattle Department of Planning and Development offers expedited and facilitated permits for projects meeting advanced green building standards.
Capital GREEN outlines environmentally responsible strategies that apply toward City of Seattle capital projects.
Community Power Works helps residents upgrade their homes to save energy and money, while growing our local energy efficiency construction economy.
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.
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.
Comprehensive plan for conserving resources in City facilities.

Transportation & Land Use

The Land Use Code is developed by DPD planners to regulate the use of land in Seattle.
SDOT considers federal, state, regional, and local policies and regulations in all its action plans and projects, including Clean Air Act, Endangered Species Act, and State & National Environmental Policy Acts (SEPA & NEPA).
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.
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! is your one stop source for SDOT incentive programs, mobility apps and info about changing to walking, biking, using transit, and carpooling.
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.
Transportation planning is a vital element to ensure our neighborhoods have easy access for pedestrians, transit, bicyclists, trucks and cars.
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.
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.
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.


Establishing goals, creating a policy framework, and identifying planning, analysis and actions for the purpose of strengthening Seattle's food system sustainability and security.
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.
All food service businesses are required to provide alternatives to throw-away food service containers, cups and other products in all food service businesses
Information for residents who want to grow food in their planting strip.
Parks Urban Food System programs are a hub of activities that provide access to healthy food, opportunities for active recreation, and environmental awareness.
The City of Seattle funds or administers meal programs that benefit children, homeless youth and adults, and low-income individuals and families.
P-Patch Program is Seattle's community gardening programand is open to Seattle residents.
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.
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.
Guiding growth with a goal of fostering a healthy, vibrant and sustainable city for years to come.
Charting a path to Carbon Neutral by 2050.


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.
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.
Resources to help you reduce waste (eliminate junk mail, for example) and buy or donate used items.
The City of Seattle's commitment to promoting environmental stewardship and reducing greenhouse gas emissions when buying goods, materials, services, and capital improvements.
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.
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.


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.
Seattle will manage 700 million gallons of stormwater with green infrastructure by 2025.
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.
Mayor's 2013 executive order sets a goal for the City to increase green stormwater infrastructure (PDF).
Seattle Public Utilities' RainWise program provides resources, tools and incentives to help you manage stormwater at home, reduce flooding and protect Seattle's water.
City of Seattle’s commitment to take actions and promote partnerships that protect and improve our creeks, lakes, the Duwamish River and Puget Sound.
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.
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

Summary and links to information on regulations for street trees and trees on private property.
Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation has many programs designed to protect the environment, including sustainable building practices, education and outreach, and pesticide reduction.
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.
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.
Pesticides (weed and bug killers) can damage soil and plant health, poison wildlife like birds, bees and salmon, and harm our families' health. The City of Seattle works to reduce pesticide use in its land management practices and has programs to help residents learn the same natural gardening skills at home.
A long term vision for increasing tree canopy cover in Seattle.