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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.

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.