Green Building

Green Building Standard

The green building standards, which save resources and promote renewable, clean energy, are required to gain additional height, floor area or density. Other requirements related to housing, transportation or open space may apply in addition to the green building standard depending on the zone. Meeting the Green Building Standard may also provide more benefits like faster permitting or other assistance as described by the Green Building Permit Incentives listed below.

Please refer to the Land Use Code, SMC 23.58D and Director’s Rule 20-2017 when you want to make a commitment to meet green building standard for your development. Additionally, you can reference our Green Building Standard summary to see how a project triggers the Green Building Standard and which zones include this option.

We're working on some proposed changes to our Green Building permit incentives. Take a look at the Proposed Changes section at the bottom of this page for more information.

Green Building Permit Incentives

Our Green Building Incentives provide assistance for your green building project by putting it ahead of others to help you meet the highest sustainability goals.

  • Priority Green Expedited: Available for all new construction projects. Gives you faster building permit review and processing for projects that meet green building requirements with a focus on energy, water, resource conservation and indoor air quality.
  • Priority Green Facilitated: A streamlined permitting process for master use permits in exchange for meeting the living building pilot or higher performing green building requirements.
  • Innovation Advisory Committee: This group of experts will review energy-efficient proposals not covered in the technical codes.
  • Living Building Pilot & 2030 Challenge Pilots: Allows you to request departures from the Seattle Land Use Code through Design Review and offers additional height and floor area incentives for projects attempting to meet the Living Building Challenge.
  • Residential Deconstruction: Deconstruction is taking apart a building in order to save the maximum amount of reusable building materials. If you are removing housing, a residential deconstruction permit may allow you to begin the process before a new building permit for the site is issued.

More Tools for Sustainable Development

City, state, and federal sources provide financial assistance for sustainable development projects being built in Seattle. Detailed information can be found at the following links:

Proposed Changes

We've started the process of updating our green building incentives related to the eligibility requirements. What we give you in exchange for meeting the eligibility requirements is not expected to change. They will be effective on February 1, 2021 when we implement the 2018 Seattle Construction Code. The Washington State and Seattle energy codes set the minimum requirements for building energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. Our green building incentives encourage energy savings and reduced greenhouse gas emissions beyond the code to support Seattle's transition to a clean energy future.


We will be collecting feedback and comments on our proposed incentives update in the fall and winter of 2020. A new Director's Rule for the Green Building Standard will be available in December or January. We will have a separate comment period for the Director's Rule. We look forward to your comments. Please email your comments to sciprioritygreen@seattle.gov, using the subject line "Incentives Update Comments". You can also sign up for the Green Building listserv, in the right-hand column of this webpage, for regular updates on these proposed changes and how to comment. 

All new buildings using the Green Building Standard (SMC 23.58D) must:

  • Use only electricity for space and water heating and cooking
  • Obtain a green building certification through an approved green building rating organization
  • Remove and properly dispose of any exterior non-load-bearing lead painted materials (typically siding) prior to demolition of structures built prior to 1978

All new buildings using Priority Green Expedited must:

  • Use only electricity for space and water heating and cooking
  • Obtain a green building certification through an approved green building rating organization or use the SDCI Alternative Path option for residential projects three stories or less in height
  • Remove and properly dispose of any exterior non-load-bearing lead painted materials (typically siding) prior to demolition of structures built prior to 1978
  • Meet additional criteria for size limits, embodied carbon, energy efficiency, refrigerant management, and indoor air quality