Category Archives: Washington State Department of Ecology

MCA holds its first ‘innovation event’

The following post is by DJC staff:

The Mechanical Contractors Association of Western Washington held its inaugural Mechanical Innovation conference in Seattle last week, with a speech by Denis Hayes of the Bullitt Foundation about his group’s net-zero headquarters under construction on Capitol Hill.

Hayes spoke about the worldwide market for net-zero buildings using his project as an example.

The members of MCA are union plumbing, piping and HVAC contractors.

About 300 people attended the conference, which included sessions about embracing change, innovation and technology. The tech talk was by David Burczyk of Trimble Navigation, a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based firm that provides advanced positioning systems that are used in a variety of fields including surveying and construction.

There was also a panel discussion about sustainable built environments and the participants are shown here: Yancy Wright (Sellen Sustainability), Craig Norsen (The Seneca Group), Robert Willis (PSF Mechanical), Ted Sturdevant (Washington State Department of Ecology), Steve Doub (Miller-Hull Partnership) and moderator Robert Tucker.

Tucker introduced and questioned the panelists about sustainable buildings. They talked about how and why to get involved, as well as the challenges and benefits of such types of projects.

Tucker also delivered the keynote address: “Innovation is Everybody’s Business.”

The breakout sessions included a leadership talk about “Unlocking Your Innovative Smarts” by Bill Stainton, who shared tools and techniques to help people think more creatively in problem-solving, embracing change and unleashing innovation. A technical session presented by Norman Strong of the Miller-Hull Partnership gave a glimpse into the direction of the AEC industry through the eyes of an architect.


Do sustainable work in Washington? Maybe you should be rewarded

If you are a business, government agency, school or organization in Washington that does sustainable work, you are eligible for the 2008 Governor’s Award for Sustainable Practices. Nominations will be accepted through June 6.

Winners are honored at a ceremony in the fall and get publicity around their achievements. Last year, winners included a worm farm and a high tech manufacturer. There have been 100 winners since the award began in 1991.

For more info, go here.
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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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