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Posts from the ‘News’ 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…


LEED success in Everett

Good news to report at Silliker + Partners. We recently finished helping a small Everett HVAC company certify their building under LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance!

Evergreen State Heat & AC wanted to put their building through the wringer and get to know the LEED system first-hand, in hopes of helping their clients pursue similar goals. That’s me (Jared) on the right with CEO Russ Kimball, who led the effort. Russ also studied for, and passed, the LEED exam while we did all the documentation on his building. The project is now the first EB O&M certified building in Snohomish County. We finished with 42 points, although improving to Silver certification (50 points) is fully within reach when we re-certify in the coming 5 years.

I’ll write a more nerdy post soon on some specifics of the project, but despite being a small, simple building, we faced our fair share of issues with the LEED system. Most notably, the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) is massively backlogged. We first submitted in November 2010, and got final approval in late April (that’s longhand for ‘not fast’). More interesting, however, are all the details that come up once you’re deep into LEED’s requirements. This, of course, happens on large projects as well, but the take home message is that the credit language can seem halfway easy until you try to fill out the online forms for a real project. Some of this is important to maintain program rigor. Other parts are just plain silly. To give you a taste of the latter, we lost an easy point because of this language (within IEQc3.4, Sustainable Cleaning Equipment):

“vacuum cleaners are certified by the Carpet and Rug Institute “Green Label” Testing Program for vacuum cleaners and operate with a sound level of less than 70dBA”

We mistakenly thought that the CRI label included sound parameters. Untrue! The CRI folks barely knew what I was talking about, and no sound information could be found for the CRI-labeled vacuum we purchased prior to learning of this nuance. Thus, no point for us! Our fault in the end, but still silly.

On the plus side, the overall rigor of the program makes sure a building owner is truly running a tight ship. I’m convinced that merely following LEED’s framework, but not certifying a project doesn’t hold water. The end result will, on average, be less awesome.