The new IKEA is home to Washington’s largest solar project

Home furnishings retailer IKEA unveiled what it calls the largest solar rooftop array in the state at its store under construction in Renton.  The new IKEA store is now outfitted with 3,268 solar panels.  

Check out this video by A&R Solar detailing the roof: 

If you’re excited to see the new store, it will be opening at least a month early, on February 22. 

REC Solar designed the array and Seattle-based A&R Solar installed it. Deacon Corp. is managing construction of the 399,000-square-foot store that will open in early spring adjacent to Ikea’s existing Renton store. 

The store’s 244,000-square-foot array consists of a 1.13-megawatt system built with 3,268 solar panels. It is expected to eliminate 886 tons of carbon dioxide, which equates to taking 187 cars off the road or powering 131 homes yearly.

“Installing the solar panels is another exciting and sustainable step in the progress towards opening this relocated Seattle-area IKEA store,” said Diedre Goodchild, store manager.  “IKEA strives to create a sustainable life for communities in which we operate, and our new Renton store is adding to this goal with Washington’s largest rooftop solar array.” 

This is the 45th solar project that IKEA has built in the U.S. Nearly 90 percent of the company’s buildings are covered with solar panels, and they generate more than 40 megawatts of power. IKEA owns and operates all of the systems.

Ikea has a goal of being energy independent by 2020. So far, it has installed more than 700,000 solar panels on buildings around the world and owns about 300 wind turbines.

For more information on A&R Solar, click here

For updates on the progress of the new IKEA store, check out their website here. 

Recently in the DJC: 

Ikea to open new Renton store next month

New Ikea store outfitted with 3,268 solar panels


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Are you willing to pay more for your green apartment?

Green apartment construction is blossoming, yet renter survey shows $560 rent premium is 5 times higher than most would pay

The following post is by Nadia Balint for RENTCafé and Yardi Matrix.

  • The number of new green-certified apartments expected to rise by 32% in 2016, exceeding 59,000 units by the end of the year. 
  • Seattle, WA is second in the list of cities with most green-certified apartments on the market – 11,200 units. Chicago, IL tops the list (as shown by data from Yardi Matrix).
  • Average rent in green-certified apartments is $560 more than in regular new apartments, while most surveyed renters are willing to pay up to only $100 more.

When it comes to trends in real estate, some are transient, and some are here to stay and shape the industry. Sustainable buildings are proving to be the latter. Their ubiquitous presence all over the country is possibly the best clue that green living is quickly going from niche to mainstream in real estate. Investors, developers, architects and consumers are realizing the importance and benefits of building by standards that meet the needs of present and future generations. We are interested to see how eco-friendly is the multifamily sector and what it means for renters.

We dissected Yardi Matrix’s national inventory of over 14 million apartment units located in large rental buildings of 50 units or more, in 123 U.S. metros, to see how much has been built nationwide. Our research shows that 44,800 new LEED-certified green units opened in 2015 in large-scale developments across the nation, 13 times more than there were in 2008. In 2016, about 30,000 were open or under construction as of mid-year, and we project a total of approximately 59,000 green-certified apartments to be completed by the end of this year, 4 times as many as 5 years ago.

Energy-efficient construction is encouraged by the latest building codes. But some apartment developers go further than the minimum requirements — they seek LEED certification. LEED is the most widely used certification system for green buildings, a recognized green standard worldwide. The U.S. Green Building Council’s records show that as of October 2016, there were 3,187 green multifamily residential projects in the U.S. That number includes projects that are LEED-certified or in the process of LEED-certification.

The evolution of green apartment construction since 2008

About 15% of what was built after 2008 in the multifamily sector is sustainable. It may not seem like a lot, but we’ve come a long way in 8 years ago when LEED certification started being widely used for multi-family projects. In 2008, only 2% of large-scale multifamily buildings were green.

Green rental apartments

Source: Yardi Matrix

U.S. cities that “LEED” the green apartment movement

Next, we zoomed-in to the city level, to compare U.S. cities to one another, and to find out what green apartments look like and how much rent they command compared to non-green apartments. Here are the most interesting findings: 

Top Cities with most green apartments

Source: Yardi Matrix

Chicago has the highest number of green apartment units, 13,800 in 62 large residential buildings. Illinois is the leading state for LEED green building per capita in the U.S.  and it currently has 296 green multifamily residential projects. About 34% of all of Chicago’s new large-scale apartment buildings (built since 2009) are green.

Seattle, WA is the only other U.S. city with more than 10,000 green apartments on the market right now, 11,200 green units in 87 residential buildings (the largest number of green multifamily buildings of any city in the U.S.). About 27% of what has been built since 2009 in the large-scale multifamily segment in Seattle is green.

One of the most forward-thinking cities in the country, Portland, OR currently offers 8,000 green apartments in 68 buildings. What’s even more impressive is that 45% of Portland’s total post-2009 apartment construction is green. 

The greenest cities for renters, however, are those that have the most choices for renting green. When we factor in the total number of green apartments in relation to the total population, Cambridge, MA has the best ratio of people to green apartments, 1 green rental for every 39 people. Second is Seattle (again!) with 1 green rental to 61 people, Alexandria, VA 1 to 70, Redmond, WA 1-77 and, not surprisingly, Portland 1-79.

Greenest cities for renters

Source: Yardi Matrix

Green-certified apartments cost a staggering $560/month more than regular new apartments

Yardi Matrix rent data shows that green-certified apartments cost on average an extra $560 per month or 33% more than new non-green apartments. They are also smaller, offering 73 fewer square feet of space than regular new apartments. More precisely, new non-green apartment units (built in 2009 or later) average 955 sq. ft. in size and cost $1,700 in rent, nationally. Green units built during the same period of time average 882 sq. ft. in size and $2,260 in rent. The rent differences maintain across all asset classes (high-end, mid-range or affordably-priced apartments). 

Renter survey revealed big discrepancy between actual cost and what renters are willing to pay

We wanted to see how renters feel about energy-efficient apartments and how much they would pay to live in a green building. A recent RENTCafé survey of 2,631 renters shows that 69% of those surveyed are interested to live in an energy-efficient or green building. However, their actual willingness or ability to pay the cost of renting a green-certified apartment is well below the real price of green apartments. The majority (52%) of those that expressed interest in renting green are willing to pay no more than $100/month extra rent for a green apartment, much less than the rent premium of $560 that green apartments demand. This tells us that prices still have a long way to go (down) until they align with what most renters are willing to pay. 

The interest for green living is evenly distributed across all generations: 34% are Millennials, 34% are Gen-Xers and 32% are Baby-Boomers.  The largest share of those willing to spend more than $500 in additional rent for a green-certified apartment is made of Baby-Boomers.

Our survey also revealed that the most popular green apartment features are “energy-saving appliances and thermostats,” followed by “water-saving plumbing” and “eco-friendly transportation options.”

Although there aren’t many reports on specific long-term energy savings, renting green brings along some savings in terms of energy and maintenance costs, as well as health benefits such as better air quality and temperature comfort, not to mention that priceless “do-good feeling.” But these added benefits come at premium prices, preventing many from leading the sustainable life they desire. 

Building green as part of a social movement

This “eco-minded” social movement is nothing new, each generation has had its own footprint. Nowadays, we see it in the behavior of the consumer segment coined by sociologists as “cultural creatives.” They are consumers who promote sustainability through their daily habits, they eat healthier, buy organic local produce, drive electric cars, buy fair-trade products. They show a growing interest in using less resources, they want to live and work in buildings that use materials, finishes and fixtures that have a good impact on the community and the environment. They are more or less the target renters for the green multi-family sector and the real estate market is responding.

Apartments for Rent Union SLU 905 Dexter Avenue North Seattle, WA 98109

Source: RENTCafé

Union SLU in downtown Seattle is a LEED Silver-certified 284-apartment community opened in 2013. It was built with eco-conscious residents in mind, offering plenty of sustainable-living features: electric car charging stations, priority parking for energy-efficient or electric cars, bike storage, bike racks, walkable location, resident gardening p-patches, energy-efficient appliances and more. Rates here start in the $1,500’s for studios and up to the $5,600’s for 2-bedroom apartments.

For a long time, “green” was not a decision factor when choosing a rental apartment, but now for many renters it finally is. The industry has gotten more familiar with green buildings, and it’s getting cheaper and more efficient to build green. So, in theory, green living should become increasingly accessible to more people. While there’s a rising interest in renting green apartments, for the time being rent prices continue to be the drawback for most.


  • Property and rent data was compiled from Yardi Matrix, our sister company specialized in multi-family market research.
  • Property and rent data as of June 2016.
  • LEED-certification was cross-checked with USGBC’s public records.
  • We consider “green buildings” multi-family projects that are LEED-certified or proposed for LEED certification.
  • Study includes only large-scale apartment buildings of 50 units or more.
  • New York, NY data covers only the borough of Manhattan.
  • Average rent comparisons were performed in U.S. cities with at least 5 green multi-family buildings.
  • Unit count was rounded to the nearest hundred.
  • The total number of green units projected for 2016 was compiled by adding the number of LEED certifications and pending LEED applications as of the first half of the year plus an estimated number of LEED applications expected for the second half of the year; the estimation is based on the average number of LEED-certifications received and LEED applications submitted in the second halves of the previous 4 years.
Posted in Apartments, Building Green, Seattle lifestyle | 1 Comment

Love you Sound Transit, but please do these things

What you see while you head down to the platform. UW Station / Photo by Kevin Scott

Sound Transit does many things really well, so consider this criticism from a friend.

On-time-or-better completion? Check. Beating budgets? Check. Creating the new backbones of the region? Nice stations? Check and check.

But a few very fixable things would make a huuuge improvement to usability.

Let’s talk about a drink of water. Or coffee. Am I missing something obvious, or is there precisely nothing to drink at UW station unless you go to a nearby building? And same at other stations?

At Westlake or Capitol Hill at least there are businesses outside. You can buy a coffee.

But at UW Station…nothing. Sometimes the absence of commerce is a benefit, but not here. Wouldn’t a coffee cart or little cafe pavilion be awesome? What about three strategically-located drinking fountains? Since social equity is supposed to matter, why are we forcing everyone to buy a drink at a store or lug something from home instead of having a free respite for everyone?

What you see while you wait on the platform. UW Station

And heaven forbid having bathrooms there too. Try the hospital or the HUB. Because every onsite solution costs too much, barring a commercial solution, so we get nothing. This is an ongoing Seattle problem of course.

Artwork is featured at every station, but something odd happened at Capitol Hill and the UW. All of the visual interest is in the entries and route downward. The waiting area, where people wait, has an almost featureless putty-colored motif. The only color is warning lights and those bumpy yellow pads. Is artwork coming at some point? Even ads would be welcome, which is something because I usually hate ads with a passion.

Signage is a fourth topic. It’s generally well-done. But how about clearer “way out” signage at Westlake, where tourists constantly get off and wander around before heading out via the Nordstrom sign (not seeing the signage that does exist). And how about more integration of Metro into ST signage, since nobody really cares which agency runs each route?

Posted in Architecture, Design and Art, Parks and open space, Policy, transportation | 1 Comment

100 Bikes for 100 Kids

Last week, Seattle-based architecture firm CollinsWoerman teamed up with The Forgotten Children’s Fund to bring joy and holiday cheer to local children.

Rather than holding a traditional holiday party, the team at CollinsWoerman on Dec. 16 used the occasion to assemble 100 bicycles of all sizes inside the firm’s SoDo warehouse. The bicycles are being delivered to Forgotten Children’s Fund volunteers, who will distribute them to families in need on Christmas Day.

“We believe it’s important to give back to the community that supports us, and we’re happy to do so through year-round charity and volunteer opportunities,” said CollinsWoerman principal and co-founder Arlan Collins. “100 Bikes for 100 Kids is a program our whole office relishes, and we’re so proud to help further the important work of The Forgotten Children’s Fund this holiday season.” 

This year’s bicycle giveaway marks the second year of CollinsWoerman’s 100 Bikes for 100 Kids partnership with The Forgotten Children’s Fund.

What a fun way to give back and what a great party! Nice work CollinsWoerman! 

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What are they building down there?

You may not be able to hear the rumbling from the street, but Bertha is now tunneling through Zone 8.  As of December 15, she has traveled 6,646 of 9,270 feet and the tunnel is now 70% complete. Seattle Tunnel Partners have placed over 1,000 rings that form the 1.7-mile tunnel. When the tunnel is done, it will have 1,426 rings. 

Here’s Bertha decorated for the holidays. 

She has approximately 2,600 feet to go in her tunneling journey where she’ll reach daylight at a large pit just north of Thomas Street, near the operations building. STP will then focus on removing the massive machine in pieces from the pit as they continue building the double-deck highway inside the tunnel.

What does it look like while they are working under there? Check out this amazing video of the crew building the walls as Bertha tunnels.  

You can check her progress at the street level when WSDOT posts photos of her progress on twitter at #BalloonsOverBertha. The balloons are only out long enough to take a photo, so the best view is on twitter @BerthaDigsSR99

STP will stop mining between Christmas and New Year’s, but other work will continue during that period.  STP project manager Chris Dixon said the infrastructure part of the tunnel catches up when Bertha takes a break for maintenance. When Bertha restarts, the machine speeds ahead of the infrastructural work.

STP project manager Chris Dixon said the infrastructure part of the tunnel catches up when Bertha takes a break for maintenance. When Bertha restarts, the machine speeds ahead of the infrastructural work.

Recently in the DJC: 

Tunnel is now 70% complete with Bertha running well, soil ‘behaving’

WSDOT updates state about its budget for building the tunnel

More information from WSDOT: 

Dec. 16 project update: Get ready for the year of the north portal

Another way to track Bertha’s progress – #BalloonsOverBertha 

Posted in Construction, DJC, Engineering, Landmarks, Projects in progress, transportation | Comments Off on What are they building down there?