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Posts from the ‘Energy’ Category

Seattle’s energy disclosure deadline looms

Phase one of the City’s energy disclosure ordinance is in full effect, and its October 3 deadline is right around the corner. In tracking this program over the past months and year, I’ve seen a handful of issues arise, some of which could limit the program’s overall effectiveness. I think that a solution that allows the market to utilize transparent energy metrics is a big piece of the energy efficiency puzzle, so let’s make this thing truly work!

So what’s happening out there?

  • Not all building owners have received their letter from the City (for phase one, only buildings over 50,000 sf must report). We kind of knew this would happen at some level … City and County records are not perfect and mail gets lost in the shuffle. In addition, property details are not always correct, leading to some confusion and subsequent troubleshooting.
  • Additionally, phase two buildings (over 10,000 sf) won’t receive their letters until November, for an April 2012 deadline. Overall, we need more people talking about the ordinance and its likely effects. I’m reaching out to media colleagues, allied organizations, and building owners to spread the word.
  • The City’s enforcement plan is non-existent to date. This is a big one. Owners need to know that compliance is not optional. And penalties need to be clear in order for a mandate like this to be effective. One of the first questions owners ask me is, “What happens if I don’t comply?” City program managers have promised more information online soon, which should help, but the clock is ticking.
  • Along with City action, we need more market enforcers. I’m hoping to encourage real estate agents to start requesting energy performance reports from buildings that they are hoping to lease or purchase. This is one primary aim of the ordinance—to use energy metrics in real estate transactions—and in part, the market can provide a self-policing service. But again, more knowledgeable players are needed. More market requests = more benchmarking = more compliance = higher energy performance over time.

As always, collaboration is key. Groups like the Seattle 2030 District are bringing together building owners and other stakeholders to share ideas. And I’ve been teaming with other small firms to help building owners streamline the compliance process and think about longer-term energy opportunities. So if you’ve come this far, give us a call (617.851.6742) or e-mail to discuss compliance details and energy savings potential.

Seattle 2030 District continues launch at Greendrinks

The Seattle 2030 District was the featured organization at Greendrinks last night and we unveiled this video. Several founding members are featured and tell the story of our unique group. Keep an eye out for Jared and his bike …

Seattle 2030 District splashes on to sustainability scene

More than a year ago, we joined a casual group of colleagues dedicated to aggressive reductions in energy, water and transportation impacts from buildings in downtown Seattle. Together, we’ve been a persistent and collaborative bunch of property owners and managers, utilities, public agencies, non-profits, ESCOs, designers and engineers, and other consultants. In addition to tackling these challenges together, we saw an opportunity to showcase Seattle as a leader and attract the best businesses to our city and high performance district.

Now today things are much more official as the Seattle 2030 District launches with a fresh website and a high-profile announcement at the CGI America conference in Chicago. President Clinton and DOE Secretary Stephen Chu announced Seattle and its 2030 District as one of three place-based allies for President Obama’s Better Buildings Challenge as part of CGI America’s closing plenary. Mayor Mike McGinn scored a stage appearance to represent us … did he bike to work today??

So who’s leading the charge? In short, smart, passionate folks. Brian Geller, formerly an architect with ZGF and Weber Thompson, had the original vision and is serving as Executive Director. In addition to several leaders within the City of Seattle (namely Peter Dobrovolny at DPD and Charlie Cunniff at OED), Vincent Martinez of Architecture 2030 is a key part of the leadership. Grants from EPA and the Bullitt Foundation are helping to power this early phase, but the real on-the ground work is being led by private industry, especially property owners and managers that are focused on a more sustainable built environment. Local leaders in this group include Unico, Wright Runstad, Clise, Hines, Kidder Matthews, CBRE, and Vulcan.

A big part of the effort is an agreed set of goals and metrics. And to support these, we are configuring an exciting information system, which will be provided by Lucid Design Group.

The launch fun isn’t done, though. We’ve got a Seattle Greendrinks event on July 12 and a more formal launch event planned for September 8. Stay tuned for more…

 

10 Conference intrigues

A small gathering of smart people in one of the most gorgeous places I know. Tough to beat. And to think I could only stay for about 24 hours. The 10 Conference is in its first year and brought together a stellar lineup in Leavenworth, WA at the Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort. Here’s a quick spin through the talks I most enjoyed. First, I made some bets that I have eaten more Theo Chocolate than everybody in the room except one man. Andy McShea gave us a wonderful tour through the essence of Theo Chocolate and the chocolate industry at large. Like so many things, I really appreciate the quality involved—be it the close-knit farmer relationships, organic ingredients, manufacturing process, or fair trade aspects. I’m more happy than ever to cheer for Theo with my dollars and savor their products. Oh, and a brief chemistry lesson the wonders of theobromine went straight to my undergraduate science heart.

Speaking of products, Leo Bonanni (above) showcased his team’s mapping of where products come from. Sourcemap is an exciting venture that works closely with organizations that make all sorts of products. While consumer transparency is important, Leo also talked a lot about how Sourcemap is helping organizations learn more about their own products! Maybe it helps them choose future suppliers. Perhaps the placement of a distribution center can be smartly place. Whatever the case, we need the genius of Sourcemap to raise our collective awareness.

My final favorite was Pablos Holman, who is part of Intellectual Ventures, which is partly funded by Bill Gates and has notably spun off Terrapower. Holman spent a few minutes detailing the nuclear company’s focus on using up existing nuclear waste with a fraction of the enriched fuel currently used. On a simple level, that means carbon-free energy and less radioactive waste. I’m sure there are still plenty of issues, but I’m cautiously optimistic. After Holman’s entertaining introduction, where he demonstrated several easy hacks on consumer security (mostly digital), he walked through many inventions coming out of his lab. How about a laser that kills malaria-carrying mosquitos? Pretty badass. Or a giant hose that floats into the stratosphere spraying sulfur dioxide to help deflect UV rays and decrease global warming? The modeled effect on Arctic ice melt, for instance, is appealing, but it’s a ways off and Holman didn’t say much about the acid rain trade-off. Anyways, keep tabs on this Bellevue crew.