Living Building Project Update - Accomplishments

Project Outcomes

The Living Building Pilot Program was created in 2009 to promote the development of buildings that achieve the highest known environmental standards for construction and performance. In an effort to improve the program’s effectiveness, the Seattle City Council modified the legislation based on lessons learned and program user feedback. In 2013 Council directed DPD (SDCI’s predecessor) to:

  • Establish a technical advisory group (TAG) to advise the City on sustainable building practices and provide recommendations for making the Program more attractive. The work of the TAG was completed at the end of 2014.
  • Develop options to improve the program. Phase I legislation (Ordinance 124535) that eliminated the Seattle Deep Green option was adopted in July 2014.
  • Evaluate whether to revise or replace the program. In 2016, Council approved legislation (Ordinance 125163) to again modify the program’s requirements based on input from the TAG.

Highlights of the approved ordinance include:

  • Allowing additional development capacity outright (rather than as a design review departure)
  • Modifying the program requirements so that penalties only apply if the project does not achieve, at minimum, Living Building Challenge Petal recognition and specified energy and water requirements
  • Reducing the maximum penalty amount to five percent of a project’s construction value
  • Simplifying the minimum water requirements to require that no potable water can be used for non-potable purposes
  • Linking the pilot program directly to the International Living Futures Institute’s Living Building Challenge certification program

Key Milestones

  • 2014-2015
    We worked with the appointed technical advisory group to develop recommendations for improving the Living Building Pilot program.
  • September / October 2016
    The Living Building Pilot legislation was adopted by City Council on October 3, 2016, and signed by Mayor Edward Murray on October 7, 2016.  

Project Purpose

The overall purpose of the Living Building Pilot Program is to encourage the development of extremely high-performing buildings that can reduce environmental impacts, test new technologies, and serve as models for building design and operation both regionally and nationwide in order to translate innovation into common practice. 


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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.