City of Seattle
Office of the Mayor
For Immediate Release
June 30, 2011
Contact: Aaron Pickus
Tel: (206) 233-2650
Seattle selected as an early partner for President Obama’s Better Buildings Challenge
City of Seattle joins local businesses to form unique public-private partnership to increase energy efficiency of commercial buildings
SEATTLE - Mayor Mike McGinn joined former President Bill Clinton and U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu in Chicago today for the announcement that Seattle is one of three cities selected to be an early partner in President Obama’s Better Buildings Challenge. The Better Buildings Challenge aims to increase the energy efficiency of commercial buildings in the United States 20 percent by 2020.
Seattle’s connection to the Better Buildings Challenge began in February when the Mayor announced in the State of the City address that Seattle would accept the President’s challenge to increase energy efficiency in commercial buildings by 20 percent. Since then, a group of civic leaders have been working with the White House, U.S. Department of Energy, and Clinton Climate Initiative to formalize the partnership. The Seattle 2030 District quickly emerged as the best local organization to partner with the Better Buildings Challenge because of the District’s complementary goals, many public and private partners, and robust set of tools to help building owners achieve energy efficiency.
The Seattle 2030 District, a collaboration of more than 40 civic leaders—including building owners and professionals, utilities, City of Seattle, and King County—will be the local partner for the Better Buildings Challenge. The Seattle 2030 District aims to create the country’s first large-scale, high performance building district in the heart of Seattle. On Wednesday, the Mayor and Council jointly signed a letter becoming a Founding Member of the Seattle 2030 District.
“The Seattle 2030 District is a model of public-private collaboration that will save energy, generate local economic activity, and pave the way for job creation in the green economy,” said McGinn. “The partnership with the Better Buildings Challenge will accelerate Seattle’s ability to meet our local energy efficiency goals and will showcase our work as a model for others around the country to follow.”
The Better Buildings Challenge is part of the Better Buildings Initiative that President Obama launched early this year to catalyze investment in commercial building upgrades and spur clean energy innovations that save money and energy. Partner cities will work with the U.S. Department of Energy on local projects that pilot new energy efficiency models, develop financing partnerships, and test innovative technology.
“I am so proud that Seattle continues to lead the way in creating jobs and boosting the economy through energy efficiency,” said Senator Patty Murray. “Innovative efforts like the Better Buildings Challenge and the Seattle 2030 District are going to keep Seattle at the forefront of this critical and growing industry.”
The Seattle 2030 District began in late 2009, when Brian Geller of ZGF Architects—now the Seattle 2030 District’s Executive Director—convened a small group of private property owners, City staff and several local organizations to discuss the idea of a high-performance building district in downtown Seattle. By early 2011, the group had expanded to more than 40 partners, and received a Climate Showcase Communities Grant from the US Environmental Protection Agency to seed the organization. To become a high performance building district, the 2030 District has set aggressive goals to reduce building energy use, water use, and greenhouse gases, and members have agreed to work together to ensure the District meets those goals.
“Unico is proud to be a founding member of the Seattle 2030 District and will work with the District to achieve the President’s Better Buildings Challenge,” said Brett Phillips, Director of Sustainability at Unico Properties, a Seattle-based real estate investment and operating company. “Unico is committed to making Seattle a model of economic and environmental success. We believe advances in energy efficiency will attract businesses, create jobs, and protect vital natural resources, all necessary for sustained growth and prosperity.”
Today’s announcement further cements Seattle’s role as a national leader in energy efficiency. Last year, Seattle was one of only 25 communities nationally to receive a $20 million Better Buildings grant from the US Department of Energy to implement energy efficiency upgrades in six building sectors. Seattle’s grant program, Community Power Works, is leveraging the federal funding into nearly $100 million of local investment. The City is also a founding member of Emerald Cities Seattle, one of ten national pilot programs that bring together private enterprise, public agencies, community organizations, and labor to help establish the energy efficiency sector and create a sustainable workforce.
The other two cities named as early partners of the Better Buildings Challenge are Los Angeles and Atlanta.
Watch announcement live at 2:30 p.m. during the closing plenary session of the CGI America Conference: http://www.livestream.com/cgi_plenary
Learn more about the Seattle 2030 District: www.2030district.org/seattle
Learn more about the Better Buildings Challenge:
Read City of Seattle’s 2030 District Founding Member Letter: http://seattle.gov/environment/documents/Seattle-2030Sign-On-Letter.pdf
Read the 2011 State of the City Address: http://mayormcginn.seattle.gov/2011sotc/