This week, I wrote an article in the DJC that looked at green building programs outside of Seattle.
The story quoted King County GreenTools, a program that supports green building in the county, as saying every suburban city is interested in green building but to
Built Green project in the Issaquah Highlands
different levels. So far, it said there are only two suburban jurisdictions, Kirkland
, which have started green building programs. (I have since learned via a representative of the city of Issaquah
that that city also has an official green building program. Issaquah has supported green building practices for over eight years.)
Even in the DJC offices, the story struck home on two very different levels. One of my colleagues, let’s call them Randall Potersdam, was surprised that Redmond’s green building program had been around less than a year. Having spent a lot of time on the Eastside, this person thought there would have been a green building program in Redmond ages ago.
Another colleague, let’s call them Tallulah Jillian, was surprised by the extent of cities that were interested and actually working on aspects of green building. When you think of green building, Tallulah said, you usually think of it as an urban thing… but if 39 cities in King County are interested in it, it might not be such an urban thing after all.
How about it, is green building an urban thing?
Duo, a Built Green project in Kirkland
If so, there are a lot of reasons why it could be more prevalent in big cities. Big cities have more money and more staff members through which to spread the work of developing green building programs and policy. They also tend to own utilities, which can be a source of funding or product or project investigation.
But smaller cities, that have buy in from residents, can make things happen without the bureaucracy of large city government. For example, Kirkland, Issaquah and Redmond have no problem calling expedited permitting “expedited”. Seattle calls a similar, newly launched program “facilitated” because it doesn’t want to guarantee the project’s permitting will actually take less time.
So what do you think? Is green building an urban thing or not? Do you think building green is easier or more difficult in urban or suburban cities?
Tune in for my next post for a breakdown of where LEED buildings actually are spread across the state. You might be surprised.