Sustainable building in King County, Washington
Green Community Initiative
Access low-interest financing for projects that conserve energy, water, and promote environmental sustainability. Applications accepted now.
Comprehensive resources to help professional builders recycle, reduce waste, save money, and get recognition for embracing sustainable building practices in King County.
- Green building documents
- Find a variety of green building studies and reference materials to help stimulate and ground creativity.
- Green building standards: LEED
Look up how to apply the LEED Green Building Rating System with current King County building codes. Provided to help owners, architects, designers, contractors, project managers or building professionals develop green buildings in King County.
- Do-it-yourself home energy audit (PDF, 3.66 MB)
A step-by-step guide for identifying and improving your home's energy efficiency.
- Rural Green Building (PDF, 505 KB)
Ideas to consider when building, landscaping, and installing or repairing septic systems in rural areas.
- Eco-cool remodeling tool
Click on a multimedia house to find remodeling ideas and resources to minimize your home's ecological footprint while saving money long-term.
- King County Sustainable Cities
Toolkit for city and county governments building for the long-term.
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.
Native 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.
- Northwest native plant guide
Browse photos of northwest native plants, refer to planting plan ideas and reduce the work of ordering native plants (and potential for mistakes) by building your plant list online.
- Puget Sound Rain Gardens (external link)
Rain gardens filter pollution from stormwater and support unusual native plants, and WSU has set a goal for register 12,000 rain gardens in the Puget Sound basin:
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.
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.
What do I do with...?
Find recycling and disposal options for common materials including construction leftovers, demolition debris, landscaping waste, and appliances.
Overview of King County's work to recover resources from waste as part of clean water processing.
- Garden compost
Overview of GroCo, a high-quality soil amendment including scientific analysis and where to find it.
- 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.
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.
- Annual Growth Report
Report about actual growth in King County based on projects and permits.
Safe Energy Leadership Alliance (SELA)
Coalition of local, state and tribal leaders working to raise awareness about safety risks from oil and coal transportation.
- 2015 King County Strategic Climate Action Plan
Five-year blueprint for King County action to confront climate change.
- Greenhouse Gas Emissions in King County
2012 report quantifies emissions for the King County region including governments, residents and business and presents results from two different but complementary inventories of GHG emissions.
- 2008 Greenhouse Gas Emissions in King County
Rollup report of emissions from the entire King County community including government, residents and business. Published December, 2011.
- 2010 Annual Report of King County’s Climate Change, Energy, Green Building and Environmental Purchasing Programs
- 2010 King County Energy Plan
- King County climate change plan (Acrobat pdf)
How King County seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, adapt to projected climate change impacts, and embed mitigation and adaptation into county policy decisions. The plan incorporates issues, goals and actions related to land use, building design, energy, and other aspects of sustainable building.
- King County Cities Climate Collaboration
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.
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 to protect unincorporated King County residents from critical areas, steep slopes and wetlands and to protect these sensitive areas from damage.
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.
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.
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.
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
News and announcements
Nov. 11, 2017
External article, The News Tribune
Company wants to dig 90,000 tons of coal per year at currently idled King County mine
Oct. 27, 2017
King County Parks Plog
Going beyond carbon neutral: new solar panels installed in our parks
Oct. 20, 2017
External article, Seattle Times
Report: Rising sea levels could flood 1 in 200 Seattle-area homes by end of century
Sep. 18, 2017
External article, Seattle Times
Gov. Jay Inslee on East Coast to talk climate change: ‘States are leading the way’