Public Buildings

Eliminate GHG emissions from public buildings

Local governments need to prepare plans and to provide funds for the timely conversion of existing public buildings from the use of fossil fuels to electric heating. While the conversion of existing buildings to electric heat is expensive, existing buildings will be the primary source of building Greenhouse Gas Emissions for the foreseeable future. Local governments cannot require private building conversion unless it is prepared to do the same.


The mayor issued an executive order on Jan 8, 2020 which requires that new or substantially renovated city buildings be fossil fuel free, and committed the city to develop a plan by 2021 for elimination of fossil fuels in all of its buildings. The city has a Capital Green Toolkit of strategies for Seattle's capital projects, and requires larger projects to attain LEED certification. As part of the Building Tune Up Ordinance, the City adopted Resolution 31652 in 2016 which requires all commercial buildings 50,000 square feet or larger to meet the requirements for Building Tune-Ups by Oct. 1, 2021.

Preliminary analysis shows a 25% decrease in emissions from City buildings in 2019 compared to 2008. This work is spearheaded by the Office of Sustainability, which states that we are not track for a 40% reduction by 2025 (slide 14 from OSE presentation given 3/23/21). Progress since then may have slowed down due to Covid-19; it would be good to get an update.

Seattle Public Schools

Seattle Public Schools participates in Seattle's Tune-Up Accelerator Program, and has Resource Conservation Managers that focus on keeping their buildings running efficiently. Several of the newer schools have been fitted with ground source heat pumps. Seattle Public School has also contracted with Jason McClennon for a report on how to reduce emissions on their buildings. The report is currently in final phase, and is expected to be released soon. There is also a 100% Clean Energy Resolution which will be coming up before the School Board in Jan. 2021.

King County

The King County Green Building Ordinance 17709 was adopted in 2013, and requires new buildings to strive for platinum LEED status, and major renovation projects are required to achieve gold LEED status. As part of its Strategic Climate Action Plan, King County will require all agencies to inventory all fossil fuel uses in each facility including space heating, water heating, backup generator and other needs, and to create a fossil fuel elimination plan. It will eliminate fossil fuel use in new county buildings with minor exceptions for backup power, etc.