The following post is by Joe Giampietro, AIA, CPHC, NK Architects
On July 6th, the Seattle City Council passed a number of revisions to the low-rise zone land use code, including adding Passive House as a way to achieve floor area ratio (FAR) bonuses.
A FAR bonus allows for an increase in building height relative to the area of the lot. Passive House efficiency principles lead to significant energy savings, increased project value, and improved health and comfort for those that live there.
Although this was a minor addition to an otherwise hotly debated set of low-rise zoning updates, this addresses building energy use in a practical and cost effective manner. It is a big move in the right direction.
With the addition of Passive House to the other “green” incentive programs, including LEED Silver, Built Green 4-Star, and the Washington Evergreen Sustainable Development Standards for affordable housing, Seattle has started down the road of recognizing and providing incentives for truly high-performance, low energy design strategies.
Next on the list of legislative actions, the Passive House community is working with the Seattle City Council to consider expanding the Passive House incentive to include both current certification agencies, PHIUS and the Passive House Institute. We have successfully lobbied City Councilman, Mike O’Brien’s staff to include this adjustment in the “omnibus” zoning legislation. The expansion language is currently wending its way through the Council approval process and will be voted on later this summer.
We anticipate that this action will serve as a model for other changes in zoning legislation in Seattle as well as in cities and towns in throughout the Northwest. Let’s take a moment to celebrate one small step in this process!