Buildings & Energy

Leading with conservation and renewable energy

By a variety of metrics, Seattle is a national leader in energy conservation, green energy production, and sustainable building. For example, Seattle is in the top 10 cities with the most LEED and Energy Star certified buildings-holding its place alongside much more populous cities (e.g., New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago). The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy ranks Seattle 5th in the nation for policies and programs advancing energy efficiency. Seattle City Light, our publicly owned electric utility, is "the nation's greenest utility." 

How we build and operate buildings and landscapes impacts the climate, the planet's water and other natural resources, occupant health and an owner's pocketbook.  Sustainable building is one of many terms given to a suite of approaches and strategies employed to improve a building's environmental performance and provide health and financial benefits to owners and occupants.

The Office of Sustainability and Environment works with multiple City departments to develop policy and implement initiatives that promote sustainable development and resource efficiency. Green building code requirements and permitting incentives are facilitated through the Department of Planning and Development. Seattle City Light and Seattle Public Utilities offer incentives and assistance to help homeowners, developers, and building owners to conserve energy and water. See the Buildings + Energy Incentives section for a comprehensive list. 

OSE Key Initiatives

The Office of Sustainability and Environment plays a role in the following initiatives. See the Programs & Policies page of this section for all the Building & Energy related work the City is engaged in.

Community Power Works helps residents upgrade their homes to save energy and money, while growing our local energy efficiency construction economy.
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.
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.

Moving the Needle Building Energy overview

Below is a summary of the Buildings & Energy strategies, goals and progress to date from the City's environmental progress report, Moving the Needle. Visit the Moving the Needle page for more information, download the full report, or check out the report's Buildings & Energy section for infographics and more.  

The City is committed to meeting future energy needs through conservation and renewables as well as protecting our important energy resources for today's generation and the next. Our strategies include:

  1. Energy Conservation

    Energy conservation is our first priority for meeting electricity needs.

  2. Green Buildings

    Seattle is one of the top green building markets in the nation.

  3. Renewable Energy

    Seattle is well-positioned to meet future energy needs with low carbon sources.

Energy Conservation 105,200 Megawatt hours of electricity saved annually 121,290 Megawatt hours saved in 2013
Reduce home energy use by 20% and commercial energy use by 10% by 2030 (2008 baseline) 3% reduction in home energy use; 2% reduction in commercial energy use between 2008 and 2012
20% energy savings in City facilities by 2020 (2008 baseline) 4% savings since 2008
Green Buildings Increase the number & level of green certified buildings 179% increase in LEED and 40% increase in Built Green buildings (with a greater percentage certified at higher levels) between 2008 and 2013
Renewable Energy Acquire 15% of electricity from new renewable sources by 2020 Almost 5% of new renewable energy sources acquired in 2012
Increase solar energy production in the community 38% increase in solar capacity since 2008