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Sustainable building

Envision, then build

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Sustainable building

Green Community Initiative
Access low-interest financing for projects that conserve energy, water, and promote environmental sustainability.  Applications accepted now..

Green tools
Comprehensive resources to help professional builders recycle, reduce waste, save money, and get recognition for embracing sustainable building practices in King County.

Leaf iconNative plant resources for the Pacific Northwest
Find out how to use and where to order native plants that are adapted to thrive in our area. Landscape designs using native plants are beautiful, resist diseases and pests, create habitat for native wildlife and help reduce water consumption, saving homeowners money.

Green building and low impact development - incentives and building permits
Permit process, cost-share and fee discount Incentives for builders and developers who apply sustainable development techniques in King County's jurisdiction.

Low impact development (LID) - external link, Puget Sound Partnership
Learn how to contribute to a clean Puget Sound and healthy local streams by applying scientific best practices to retrofitting existing developed areas and building new.

What do I do with...?
Find recycling and disposal options for common materials including construction leftovers, demolition debris, landscaping waste, and appliances. The site incorporates the Reusable building materials exchange which enables builders and homeowners to get and give project surplus as an alternative to buying and then disposing of it as trash.

Resource recovery
Overview of King County's work to recover resources from waste as part of clean water processing.

  • Biosolids compost
    A high-quality soil amendment, extracted from wastewater, for use in landscaping projects. The biosolids site provides examples of use and scientific references.
  • Reclaimed water
    Purified water from the wastewater stream available for reuse in non-potable applications such as irrigation and industrial processes.

Sustainability features at Brightwater Education and Community Center
New facility and surrounding park located near Bothell and Woodinville, available to showcase sustainable building with indoor or outdoor events.

DNRP Performance Measures, King County, Washington DNRP KingStat
Look up the current status of the environment in King County, Washington, learn how King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks works to improve environmental indicators, learn how you can help, and review the department's performance measures.

Climate change infographic: what related impacts are happening in our region?
See the full infographic to learn more about King County's efforts to confront climate change

King County climate change response

Local governments and sustainability: examples from King County, Washington (Chinese)
Local Governments and Sustainability: Examples from King County, Washington
(Acrobat pdf)
Presentation by Bob Burns, deputy director of King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks at the China-US Professional Workshop on Regional Sustainable Development (external link), University of Washington in Seattle.

Low-impact development for roads
Example project for "green building" in the county's transporation infrastructure, incorporating features such as porous concrete sidewalks and a bioretention facility/rain garden.

King County - Seattle brownfields program
Provides assistance to small businesses and property owners for the assessment, cleanup and redevelopment of environmentally contaminated land in King County and the City of Seattle.

King County water supply
Find out about King County water supply planning, how King County intends to increase the region's water supply by reclaiming water from wastewater for non-drinking purposes such as industrial processes and irrigation, and how King County conserves water as part of its operations.

Transfer of development rights program
Learn how individuals can buy and sell residential development rights to preserve public benefits-- for example farms, forestlands, open space, regional trails and designated urban separator lands and habitat for threatened or endangered species. Owners benefit financially through the transfer of development rights to more appropriate areas while the public benefits through permanent preservation of these lands.

Resource protection incentives
Apply for tax reductions in rural King County in exchange for practices that benefit public interests. Includes the public benefit rating system (or PBRS) and timber land program.

King County surface water design manual
Supporting documents and software to help engineers design storm drainage systems that cleanse stormwater and reduce flooding problems for downstream neighbors. Architectural tips to help design attractive stormwater ponds can be found by reading the Integrated Pond.

Stormwater pollution prevention manual
Look up best practices to apply on business and multifamily lands to help control stormwater pollution, to avoid fouling lakes, streams and Puget Sound.

Puget Sound shoreline stewardship guidebook
Provides info and contacts for owners of beach and bluff shorelines to learn about natural shoreline protection, manage runoff, use native plants, control aggressive non-native plants, and maintain septic systems.

Surface water management fee discounts and cost-sharing program
Reduce your SWM fee by applying sustainable building practices that reduce and cleanse your stormwater.

Rural stewardship planning
Rural homeowners in King County can receive free technical assistance with site design and property management practices to achieve more flexibility in development and resource protection on their property.

King County building permits
Find information about building permits and environmental review for developers working on building projects in King County, provided by the Department of Permits and Environmental Review (formerly Dept. of Development and Environmental Services).

Critical areas, clearing, grading and stormwater ordinances
Codes adopted in October 2005 to protect the county's unincorporated critical areas, steep slopes and wetlands from problems associated with new development.

Erosion control for construction sites
This page provides information for about how to comply with construction codes and prevent runoff at construction sites during the wet season, from the Dept of Development and Environmental Services.

Erosion and sediment control standards
Appendix D of the King County Surface Water Design Manual. 1 MB Adobe Acrobat file.

History of King County's regional wastewater treatment utility
Read how our region worked to keep our lakes and Puget Sound clean and healthy, including the early days of sewage treatment and disposal in King County, the birth of Metro and development of regional facilities to process the waste produced by our metropolitan area.

Lower Boise Creek Habitat Restoration Project
Overview of a LEED platinum rated project to remove contamination and restore a creek to create salmon spawning habitat near Enumclaw.

King County Comprehensive Plan
Read the policies that guide King County land use and development regulations, and regional services such as transit, sewers, parks, trails and open space.

Shoreline Management Program
Learn about King County's program to protect shorelines, promote public access, and establish land use priorities for shorelines of Puget Sound, large rivers and lakes.

Wetland information
Comprehensive resources related to wetlands in King County including info on the importance of wetlands, map resources, development regulations, and programs.

Flood buyout and home elevation program
This page answers frequently asked questions about King County's program to buy out flood-prone houses and provide homeowner assistance in having homes elevated. The page also provides information about related programs that can help homeowners affected by flooding.

Sustainability-related organizations


Sustainable Building Practices

Sustainable or green building practices cover all aspects of building, including:

  • land preparation
  • materials selection
  • life-cycle of the building (construction, operation and maintenance, demolition)

Sustainable building includes such practices as

  • redevelopment of inefficiently designed or environmentally damaged sites
  • job-site recycling of construction materials
  • native vegetation landscapes
  • stream and wetland protection and restoration
  • natural drainage
  • energy and water efficiency
  • low toxicity materials
  • use of recycled materials
  • reduced use of land and materials
  • design for re-use
  • revitalization of decayed areas to improve residents' quality of life

Related information

Related agencies

News and announcements

Jan. 23, 2015
Installing energy-efficient lighting at treatment plant to save King County $33,000 each year

Jan. 15, 2015
External article, Mercer Island Reporter
PSE offers $500 rebate for EV chargers

Jan. 8, 2015
King County, cities sign ambitious agreements to cut greenhouse gas emissions and confront climate change

Jan. 8, 2015
External report, KPLU
Coalition of King County Cities Adopt Formal Goals In Climate Pact audio

Dec. 17, 2014
Local elected leaders welcome Governor's climate proposal

Dec. 17, 2014
External Article, Crosscut
Inslee wants to limit carbon emissions, help with budget challenges

Dec. 16, 2014
Executive welcomes Governor's transportation plan to increase mobility across the state

Dec. 8, 2014
Councilmembers: EPA’s Duwamish Cleanup Plan continues effort to revitalize the “lifeblood” of Seattle

Dec. 3, 2014
External opinion, Seattle Times
Guest: Why the EPA’s plan is the best way forward for the Duwamish River

Dec. 2, 2014
External article, Seattle Times
Mammoth $342 million cleanup ahead for fouled Duwamish River

Nov. 26, 2014
Executive Constantine nominated for Sustainable Leadership Award 

Sep. 12, 2014
Executive's budget to call for accelerating energy efficiency projects throughout King County

Sep. 9, 2014
Executive Constantine joins 65 elected leaders to call for a statewide clean fuels standard

Sep. 8, 2014
Executive Constantine, Mayor Murray announce Green/Duwamish Watershed Strategy

Sep. 7, 2014
External article, Seattle Times
Revised 2nd Avenue bike lane signals change for drivers, riders

Sep. 7, 2014
External article, Seattle Times
As wind power surges, opposition grows

Sep. 6, 2014
External article, Seattle Times
Power clashes cloud solar’s future in Washington

Aug. 20, 2014
Metro will use a federal grant to test battery-powered, zero-emission buses
Ten years after first hybrid buses, Metro delivers an even more energy-efficient fleet

Jul. 30, 2014
Ridership for Metro's RapidRide surges again, up nearly 40 percent

Jul. 30, 2014
External report, KPLU
Inslee Touring Washington Sites That Show Costs Of Climate Change audio

Jul. 24, 2014
Traffic delays and infrastructure costs identified in new study bolster opposition to coal train exports

Jul. 23, 2014
Regional leaders unite in call to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in King County
Targeting 80 percent reduction of countywide emissions by 2050

Jul. 11, 2014
External report, KUOW
New Polling Shows Support In Northwest For Limits On Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Jul. 10, 2014
Executive Constantine supports comprehensive approach to improving water quality

Jul. 2, 2014
External article, Governing
Climate Change Is Happening, and Cities Need to Pay Attention Now

Jun. 24, 2014
External article, Climate Solutions
50x30 Carbon Reduction: Ambitious but Achievable

Jun. 23, 2014
Building a farm-to-plate pipeline will better connect local farmers and communities

Jun. 2, 2014
Executive Constantine applauds President Obama's EPA rule to cut carbon emissions from nation's power plants
Clean energy to get boost with new standards for coal-fired and other energy plants

May 15, 2014
External report, NPR
Across The U.S., Bicycle Commuting Picks Up Speed

May 13, 2014
External article, Seattle Times
NASA spots 'unstoppable' Antarctic ice sheet melt

May 12, 2014
External article, Seattle Weekly
How Climate Change Is Impacting the Northwest, and How Seattle Is Fighting Back

May 2, 2014
External article, Living Green
Being in Nature Makes Us Healthier and Happier

Apr. 1, 2014
2013 DNRP annual report now available: ‘Environmental Stewardship in King County’

Mar. 4, 2014
External article, Seattle Times
Developers envision downtown gondola taking passengers to waterfront

Mar. 4, 2014
GoGreen Seattle: Going beyond business and sustainability as usual
2014 Keynotes Feature King County Executive Dow Constantine, Tesla Co-Founder Kimbal Musk and Darigold CEO Jim Wegner

Feb. 10, 2014
Building equity and confronting climate change frame Executive Constantine’s second-term agenda
Great generational challenges of our time

State of the County 2014

External maps, Berkeley University
Carbon Footprint Maps

Energy Efficiency and Looking Ahead video
Executive Constantine talks about climate change, renewable energy, coal trains and green economic development in King County

2013 King County Accomplishments 

» Archived news and announcements