Strategic Plan Score Card - Healthy Environment
Preserve open space and rural character while addressing climate change.
King County is committed to protecting the natural environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and energy use, and increasing the production and use of renewable energy.
King County works to reduce its energy use and greenhouse gas emissions from our buildings and facilities.
How much are we doing?
As part of its Strategic Climate Action Plan, King County set a goal to reduce energy usage in County-owned facilities by at least 7.5% by 2020 and 10% by 2025 (using 2014 as a starting point of 100%). Based on data from the SCAP Biennial Report released in 2017, we have been trending toward those values, with a 6.1% decrease since 2014.
Energy use reductions in county operations are being driven by behavior-based actions and investments in equipment. Retrofitting inefficient equipment, particularly high efficiency LED (light-emitting diode) lighting installations, is driving the majority of the change. Low- and no-cost behavioral savings are resulting from adjustments to operating schedules and improved maintenance and control of building systems. The county’s Fund to Reduce Energy Demand (FRED), an internal loan program established in 2014 to fund the upfront investment in efficiency projects, has cost effectively invested millions of dollars in dozens of efficiency and solar projects, and resulted in savings of hundreds of thousands of dollar per year for County divisions.Back to top
How well are we doing?
King County has made significant strides in reducing non-renewable energy use on an on-going basis. Moving forward, the county is continuing to aggressively make energy investments, although project cost-effectiveness is becoming more challenging. With comprehensive LED lighting projects wrapping up over the next couple of years, many future energy reduction opportunities will need to be focused on more complex and expensive heating system retrofits and replacements. King County has over half a megawatt of installed solar on its facilities, with an equal amount of solar capacity in planning or construction. King County also helped develop and made a commitment to enroll in Puget Sound Energy’s (PSE) Green Direct Program, which gives municipal and corporate customers in Washington State the chance to purchase electricity from new, in-state renewable energy sources. Renewable energy consumption in County-owned buildings and facilities did fall by 8% from 2014 to 2015, due in large part to changes in the electricity supply mix provided by utilities. Beginning in 2019, King County will be transitioning nearly all of its electricity use in PSE service territory to the new Green Direct wind and solar option and, as a result, is on track to surpass the 2020 renewable energy target above.Back to top
Is anyone better off?
Greenhouse gases are a major contributor in climate change, which affects the residents of King County in several different ways – increasing flood and wildfire risks, hotter summer temperatures, and dying salmon to name a few. It reduces the quality of life and is harmful to our natural environment.
King County is committed to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in government operations. Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from King County buildings and facilities were reduced by 9.6% between 2007 and 2017. The County recognizes that there is a lot more work to be done to achieve even greater reductions in our emissions and to better prepare for what climate change has in store. King County’s shift to Green Direct renewable electricity alone is projected to reduce its direct greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent.Back to top
- 2017 Strategic Climate Action Plan Biennial Report
- 2015 Strategic Climate Action Plan
- King County Carbon Neutral Implementation Plan
- Fund to Reduce Energy Demand Fact Sheet
- Puget Sound Energy Green Direct Program
The Land Conservation Initiative seeks to finish the job of protecting King County’s remaining and most vital greenspaces before they are lost to development or priced out of reach. Accelerating investments in land conservation will protect the livability, health, and ecological integrity for all King County’s residents.
Our healthy environment is maintained, in part, by upholding rural character by focusing new growth in urban areas; equally important is protecting productive farms, forests, healthy habitat, and parks & open spaces in dense urban areas.
Access to nature and open space is the foundation to quality of life, yet the region is changing and growing quickly. For this reason, King County has set an accelerated 30-year vision to protect its last remaining and most vital conservation lands before they are developed or priced out of reach, and to ensure that all the county’s residents have access to greenspace.
How much are we doing?
Executive Constantine launched the King County Land Conservation Initiative in 2018 with a commitment to protect 65,000 acres of land by 2030. County will focus on urban greenspaces in underserved areas, farmland, trails, river corridors and other natural lands for wildlife and recreation, and forestlands.
How well are we doing?
In 2019 – Year 1 of the Land Conservation Initiative – the County tripled the amount of funding, and hence are tripling the rate of land conservation across the 6 land categories. Furthermore, 7 projects were awarded match-free funding to increase access to urban greenspace in underserved Opportunity Areas. Current funding sources are expected to continue this accelerated rate for the next 3 to 4 years, after which new or increased funding will be needed to achieve the LCI’s 30-year vision.
To improve equitable access to greenspace, and ensure resources are going where needs are greatest, King County commissioned a 21-member Open Space Equity Cabinet to develop recommendations related to the County’s funding sources for parks and open space protection. In 2019 the King County Council passed legislation that codified the Equity Cabinet’s recommendations into the King County Code. The Open Space Equity Cabinet also proposed a new approach to community engagement around parks and open space; the Department of Natural Resources and Parks (DNRP) is now implementing the Equity Cabinet’s Community Engagement Action Plan.Back to top
Is anyone better off?
The County’s commitment to fix unequal access to open greenspace will impact roughly one quarter of residents – about 500,000 people – who currently do not live within ready access to a park, greenspace, or trails. This investment in open space infrastructure that is guided by the Open Space Equity Cabinet will help traditionally underserved neighborhoods have access to open space access that other communities enjoy and benefit from today. The map below will guide the acquisition of greenspace to enhance access for all. In 2019 five separate communities – Des Moines, South Park, Shoreline, Tukwila, and White Center –received match-free funding to acquire land to create new greenspace.Back to top
- King County Land Conservation Initiative
- Open Space Equity Cabinet
- 1 Million Trees Initiative
- Forest Carbon Program
- King County Executive Press Release
- Press Release: Ensuring all King County residents have access to open spaces