Category Archives: SEPA

Predictions: green trends for ’09

The Internet has been awash with green trend predictions for the last year, so I figured I’d show you where the predictions are in case you missed them.

What do you see in green's crystal ball?

First, there’s Jetson Green’s Seven Green Trends to Watch in 2009. The post from one of the top national blogs in the country calls out broad idealogical trends for the most part, like “non green will not survive,” “change leadership will thrive,” and “everything will shift.” For more on what that means, check out the post.

There’s Jerry  Yudelson’s Top 10 Predictions for the Green Building Industry 2009. Culled from conversations Yudelson’s had with building leaders in the U.S., Canada, Europe and the Middle East, it’s a wide range of predictions (that might be worth paying attention to, considering Yudelson knows almost everybody that’s worth knowing in green). Among the predictions, Yudelson says green building will benefit from the Obama administration, the focus of green building will begin to switch from new buildings to greening existing buildings, awareness of the coming global crisis in fresh water supply will increase, LEED platinum rated projects will become more common place and zero net energy designs for new buildings will gain increasing acceptance in both public and private buildings.

And earlier today, I listened to the Sustainable Industries Webinar on its nine trends for 2009. Among the trends, it said the smart grid will take off, this will be the year of the carbon market, green building sets the code (meaning it becomes a larger part of city’s building codes), and there will be a green jobs hiring blitz. While I can’t find this information for free on the Web, it is in next month’s edition of the magazine, and will likely be available online at some point here.

As for Seattle, I’m a reporter so I’m not going to predict what this year will bring in green building. It could bring a living building or a passifhaus to the city. It could bring more incentives. Or all new initiatives could dry up, due to the economy.

On the city side, the year will likely bring an official priority permitting program (rather than just a pilot program), and a deconstruction permit that is decoupled from the demolition permit. On the state side, Ecology might revamp SEPA to specifically include greenhouse gas emissions in its measurement requirements (for more on this, click tag SEPA below).

What do you think this year will bring to Seattle? And what do you think will be the biggest trends in the region?

Could your project be denied because of its greenhouse gas emissions? The idea is spreading like wildfire here

It sure is amazing how one government decision can issue a string of changes (even if they are in Washington and take forever to come to fruition). Such is the decision of King County Executive Ron Sims last June to consider climate change under SEPA.

SEPA is Washington’s State Environmental Policy Act. The decision means that any project that fills out SEPA paperwork in unincorporated King County, or where King County is the lead, has to measure its greenhouse gas emissions on a spreadsheet and hand them in to the country as part of its SEPA paperwork. Doesn’t sound like much, but if it leads to mitigation (which is the direction King County is heading here) it could mean time, money, and a lot more than just a piece of paperwork.

Already, King County is creating an ordinance that would let it deny or change projects that have too high of a greenhouse gas emission impact (deadline for commenting on that is May 19).

Read the timeline below to see how it’s spreading like wildfire in this state (and California). If you work on projects in Washington, you’ll probably have to consider this in the near future. If you’re not in Washington…. well, you might still have to consider this in time.

So how does it make you feel? Is this an unfair use of government power or is a realistic way to deal with project emissions? Let me know!
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As of today, Seattle projects must calculate greenhouse gas emissions in SEPA (is mitigation next?)

As of today, any project in Seattle that trips a SEPA review will need to calculate its greenhouse gas emissions.

What do you think? Is this a good move or is it impinging on your rights? Should the city, county and state move in this direction, and if not, what would you tell them to do?

I’ve written about this subject pretty extensively since King County kicked off the crusade last June. Back then, King County Executive Ron Sims declared his intentions to connect developments to greenhouse gasses in an executive order. To read that story, click here

As the deadline for action neared, I spoke with representatives of local business groups NAIOP, AGC and the Master Builders Association. They told me what their concerns were about the process. To read that story, click here.

Then Seattle began considering the changes, read about it here, and Washington State Department of Ecology Director Jay Manning advised anybody seeking a permit to start considering the same questions, read that one here.

Now, Seattle’s day has finally come. Seattle is using the same checklist that King County has had in place, though there may be some tweaks to it. To see a draft of the checklist, go here. DPD has also devoted a whole Web site to today’s changes. To see that site, visit here.

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