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DDES walks the green building talk

Summary

More than just another regulatory agency: DDES walks the green building talk

Story

Taxpayer savings are just a few of the benefits for King County residents as a result of recent energy and sustainability improvements at the county's Department of Development and Environmental Services (DDES) building at 900 Oakesdale Ave. S.W. in Renton.

The facility recently made a number of upgrades to building operations and maintenance processes that helped earn a High Energy Star rating as set by the United States Green Building Council. The rating is the first step in the process for earning a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, which can be earned for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings. DDES is also testing a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle for field work.

Economic, Environmental, Social benefits

Improvements in energy performance are already being realized at the Renton facility, with the recent move to a four-day-per-week work schedule. The building's energy performance rating provided by Portfolio Manager, a joint program of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy has risen three points since December to its current level of 85. This rating indicates that the building performs better than 85 percent of all similar buildings nationwide.

DDES has set out to attain LEED-Silver certification for its ongoing operations at the Renton facility. The 74,280 square-foot building, with over 300 King County employees, is also home to a Department of Assessments field office and Community Environmental Health.

Over the next six to eight months, a team of stakeholders will make additional improvements in building maintenance policies and procedures with the goal of cutting costs and reducing the overall environmental impact of the building, and also providing a more comfortable and healthful indoor environment for employees and visitors. The certification builds on the green construction and building maintenance techniques promoted through the Department of Development and Environmental Services' (DDES) permit process - many of which have come to life in the agency's daily operations.

"We are realizing tangible environmental and economic benefits for the county through these projects," said DDES Deputy Director Joe Miles. "LEED certification for the DDES/Black River building is an example where 'green equals green,' meaning, doing the right thing environmentally will also save DDES taxpayer dollars in the form of reduced energy costs."

Hybrid-Electric Vehicles

In addition to the LEED-Silver certification efforts, Critical Areas field staff have also been testing a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle for field work. King County has converted four existing Toyota Priuses to Plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles as part of a joint research project with Idaho National Labs and three other regional agencies: the City of Seattle, the Port of Seattle, and the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency. The DDES Critical Areas Section is testing one of these four vehicles to assess their effectiveness for field work throughout unincorporated King County. This research will collect valuable performance data that will lead to better electric vehicle technology.

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) technology has the potential to dramatically reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions by moving vehicles away from gasoline and fossil fuels to cleaner alternative energy. The Puget Sound region is well suited to spearhead the use of electricity as a clean alternative energy source because much of the electricity produced in this region comes from hydropower.

"DDES is proud to test and demonstrate the newest technologies associated with environmental protection in the context of building and land use," said DDES Director Stephanie Warden. "Our use of the hybrid-electric vehicle in the field is providing very useful data that will eventually revolutionize the transportation industry and helps us better understand what residents face in working to reduce the environmental impacts of projects. This also relates to building and land use because materials must be moved over large distances to support the construction and development of all kinds."

Additional detail can be found in the current edition of the DDES Newsletter www.kingcounty.gov/property/permits/publications/QNews.aspx.

For additional information, please contact Paula Adams, Public Information and Records Officer, at paula.adams@kingcounty.gov or 206-296-6682.