Seattle 2030. The District and the Challenge.

Seattle 2030. The District and the Challenge.

Just over a year ago, in June 2017, the United States pulled out of the Paris Agreement—an international intention to reduce climate change signed by 196 nations. In April of this year, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan drafted the Seattle Climate Action plan to counteract the federal government’s withdrawal, and as a reaffirmation of previous resolutions enacted by the Seattle City Council. The goal is to reduce emissions while simultaneously supporting community goals, building vibrant neighborhoods, and fostering economic prosperity. From Mayor Durkin’s plan, the City has now enacted the 2030 Challenge Pilot, that will require buildings to meet efficiency standards for energy, water and transportation, for both new construction and existing buildings. The essential goal is to work for buildings to become carbon neutral. Buildings are currently Seattle’s second largest source of emissions, as tracked by the City. A carbon neutral building is defined as “one with significantly reduced energy consumption combined with the increased use of low carbon energy sources to meet the remaining demand.”

“Seattle can be a global climate leader by taking bold action to reduce our carbon footprint of our buildings, which is a leading contributor to greenhouse gas pollution,” Mayor Durkan said. “Our actions to reduce emissions buildings will help create a healthier, more just, and more vibrant city with more family wage jobs.”

The City is offering incentives to building owners that meet the Challenge Pilot’s performance goals, in the form of 25% floor area ratio increases, and two additional floors.

Susan Wickwire, Executive Director of the Seattle 2030 District, remarked, “We really see the 2030 Challenge Pilot as a catalyst for transformative change at scale by incentivizing developers and owners to make substantial green investments that make business sense.” Seattle’s Challenge Pilot reflect the 2030 Challenge for Planning, an internationally recognized standard that calls for a 70% reduction in energy use, a 50% improvement in water management, and an 50 % decrease in transportation emissions from established baselines. The Seattle Challenge Pilot resolution was unanimously ratified last month.

Seattle currently has 51 million square feet committed to the 2030 District. From their website, the Seattle 2030 District is “an interdisciplinary, public-private collaborative working to create a high-performance building district in downtown Seattle. With the Architecture 2030 Challenge for Planning providing [their] performance goals, [they] seek to develop realistic, measurable, and innovative strategies to assist district property owners, managers, and tenants in meeting aggressive goals that reduce environmental impacts of the construction and operations of buildings.” Seattle’s 2030 District goal is to become carbon neutral by 2030.

Membership for the 2030 Districts can be completed on their website at