Design Snapshot — Seattle’s Green Building Capital Initiative: Partnering for Citywide Retrofits

Seattle is using a portion of its ARRA formula allocation for Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants (EECBGs) to pilot new efforts to increase building energy efficiency. As a part of its Green Building Capital Initiative for the residential and commercial sectors, Seattle’s Office of Sustainability and Environment will put ARRA funds to work providing home energy efficiency audits and retrofit financing, in partnership with regional utilities and area nonprofits.

Although launched as a part of stimulus implementation in April 2009, Seattle’s Green Building Capital Initiative is actually grounded in much earlier city plans initiated by Mayor Greg Nickels in early 2008 to improve building energy efficiency by 20 percent by 2020 and reduce energy costs for residents. A diverse 50-member Green Building Taskforce met pre-stimulus between July 2008 and January 2009 to discuss options for a citywide retrofit program.

ARRA resources provided Seattle with a ready opportunity to advance the residential component of these plans, and the city intends to invest $2 million of its total $6 million formula allocation of EECBG funding into this initiative, with the bulk of funding going towards energy performance audits, direct installation of the most cost-effective energy efficiency measures (e.g., duct sealing, lighting upgrades, and low flow showerheads), and retrofits of existing, single-family and small multi-family residential buildings.