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King County Raises Green Building Standards Again

mrjcO’Brien & Company is thrilled to announce that in December of 2013, King County passed an updated version of their Green Building Ordinance!  This ordinance requires government new construction and major renovation projects to strive to achieve the highest certification available on applicable local and national green building standards.

“By embracing the highest green-building standards in the nation, we are taking action to meet our goal of cutting in half the climate impact of County operations,” said Executive Dow Constantine. “At the same time, we will save money on the energy needed to operate our facilities.”

The new policy is intended to help King County meet several long-term targets, including cutting the total greenhouse gas emissions from government operations in half by 2030.  Additionally, it will aid in reaching the target of reducing overall greenhouse gas emissions countywide by at least 80 percent by 2050. These targets, based on 2007 emissions levels, are lofty yet necessary.  The legislation requires that all King County government new construction and major renovation projects strive for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification or compliance with the County’s Sustainable Building Scorecard, if they can be met within certain cost constraints.

Other ordinance highlights include:

  • Ensuring responsible stewardship of public funds through life cycle cost analysis.
  • Building a culture of performance by establishing minimum performance requirements for energy, emissions, stormwater management, and construction and demolition materials diversion.
  • Including guidance for King County affordable housing projects to increase equitable access to improved public health, air quality, living and working environments, and walkable communities.
  • Encouraging innovation and supporting flexibility by adding alternative green building rating systems, including Built Green, the Evergreen Sustainable Development Standard, Salmon Safe and the Living Building Challenge.
  • Aligning and developing greener codes and permitting by:
      • Directing the Department of Planning Environmental Review to create a green building handbook for staff;
      • Participating in trainings on green building techniques and permitting procedures; and
      • Developing a Living Building Challenge Demonstration Ordinance.

O’Brien & Company contributed to this ordinance through our support of the King County GreenTools program.  Over the last year, our consultant team has helped organize stakeholder workshops, researched regional and national examples, helped analyze the impact of proposed components of the ordinance, and chronicled the integrated development process in a case study.  Many of our regional green building colleagues participated in the workshops or personally advocated for this ordinance, so this is great accomplishment for the PNW.  Congratulations!

Learn more about the King County Green Building program on the GreenTools website.

Photo is of the Maleng Regional Justice Center which is on track to earn LEED Platinum.

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