Living Building Pilot - Overview

What Is It?

1 Living Building Pilot Watershed photo by Weber ThompsonThe Living Building Pilot Program is part of the City of Seattle's Climate Strategies. It is needed to help us move beyond making incremental changes so we can fundamentally reshape our building and transportation systems for a fossil-free future. Seattle's buildings produce over one-third of our greenhouse gases. Reducing these building emissions are critical in achieving our goal to become a carbon neutral community by 2050.

The Living Building Pilot program provides your project  with additional height, and floor area ratio (FAR). It also allows your project to request additional departures from the Seattle Land Use Code through Design Review in exchange for meeting the Living Building Challenge (LBC).

The LBC is a rigorous green building certification program, administered by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI), that defines the most advanced measure of sustainability for buildings and landscapes. LBC's goal is to create buildings that:

  • Generate more energy than they use
  • Capture and treat all water on site
  • Are made using healthy materials

The LBC framework will help you create spaces that reconnect occupants with nature. LBC uses a flower as a symbol of efficiency and organizes the program into "petals." There are seven performance areas or petals; Place, Water, Energy, Health and Happiness, Materials, Equity, and Beauty.

Project Benefits:

Developers that are constructing new buildings or building additions that meet pilot program standards can get the following benefits:

  • Up to 25 percent more floor area
  • Up to 30 percent more floor area if saving an unreinforced masonry structure
  • 12.5 feet of additional height for residential construction or 15 feet of additional height for non-residential construction in zones with height limits of 85 feet or less
  • 25 feet of additional height for residential construction or 30 feet of additional height for non-residential construction in zones with height limits greater than 85
  • Additional design departures for the pilot programs as specified in Seattle Municipal Code 23.41.012D


Our pilot program will expire on December 31, 2030 or when 20 projects are enrolled. There are 13 currently enrolled. To qualify for this program, your project must:

Environmental Requirements

  • Achieve all twenty Imperatives for new buildings - LBC full certification, or
  • Achieve all Core Imperatives, in addition to all imperatives in either Water, Energy, or Materials Petal - Petal Certification, and:
    • Comply with the requirements of the Target Performance Path in Section C401.3 of the Seattle Energy Code and decrease the building performance factor by at least 25 percent below that defined in the Target Performance Path
    • Reduce potable water demand by using only non-potable water to meet demand for toilet and urinal flushing, irrigation, hose bib, cooling tower (make up water only), and water features, except to the extent other applicable local, state, or federal law requires the use of potable water

Construction and Inspections

Nathan Torgelson, Director
Address: 700 5th Ave, Suite 2000, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 34019, Seattle, WA, 98124-4019
Phone: (206) 684-8600
Phone Alt: Violation Complaint Line: (206) 615-0808
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SDCI issues land use, construction, and trade permits, conducts construction and housing-related inspections, ensures compliance with our codes, and regulates rental rules. SDCI is committed to an antiracist workplace and to addressing racism through our work in the community.