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Natural Resources and Parks

King County, Washington

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DNRP
Dec. 9, 2013

Updated King County green building policy tops in nation for facility sustainability, performance

New policy guides construction and renovation projects to ensure County’s continued leadership in resource use, conservation

All King County government construction and major renovation projects must strive to achieve the top national green construction rating under an ordinance proposed by King County Executive Dow Constantine and unanimously approved today by the Metropolitan King County Council.

“By embracing the highest green-building standards in the nation, we are taking action to meet our goal of cutting in half the climate impact of County operations,” said Executive Constantine. “At the same time, we will save money on the energy needed to operate our facilities.”

“Building green has great potential to enhance environmental sustainability. With buildings contributing nearly 40 percent of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions and a substantial share of our natural resource consumption, we simply must change how we build and operate our facilities,” said Councilmember Larry Phillips, Chair of the Transportation, Economy and Environment Committee and sponsor of the legislation. “King County’s commitment to green buildings balances two kinds of green, protecting both the environment and tax dollars, by ensuring project costs aren’t substantially increased in order to meet environmental building standards.”

The new green building ordinance advances and improves the County’s green building and sustainable development policy for County-owned operations.

Ordinance highlights include:

    • Requiring all King County government construction and major renovation projects to strive for the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum designation.
    • Improving value and longevity of public infrastructure by ensuring the design, construction, maintenance and operation of any capital project is consistent with the latest green building and sustainable development practices.
    • Ensuring responsible stewardship of public funds through life cycle cost analysis.
    • Building a culture of performance by establishing minimum performance requirements for energy, emissions, stormwater management, and construction and demolition materials diversion.
    • Including green building for King County affordable housing projects that increase equitable access to improved public health, air quality, living and working environments, and walkable communities.
    • Encouraging innovation and supporting flexibility by adding alternative green building rating systems, including Built Green, Evergreen Sustainable Development Standard, Salmon Safe and Living Building Challenge.
    • Supporting voluntary green building efforts in the region.

The legislation adopted by the County Council requires that King County building projects comply with environmental standards if they can be achieved within certain cost constraints.

Updating the County’s green building policies was identified as a priority action in the King County’s Strategic Climate Action Plan adopted last year.

The newly adopted policy will help King County meet several long-term targets, including cutting in half the total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from government operations by 2030, compared to a 2007 baseline, by 50 percent; and reducing by at least 80 percent the overall GHG emissions countywide by 2050, compared to 2007 levels.

Growth in the building industry’s green sector is undeniable – from 2 percent of the market in 2005 to 44 percent today. The green building industry supports or creates nearly eight million jobs nationally and contributes $554 billion annually to the U.S. economy.