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The City of Seattle Is Moving the Market

Posted on Dec 18, 2018 in:
  • Community
  • Built Green News
  • Benefits & Incentives

Since 2014, Built Green has presented the Moving the Market award to an entity that has, as the name suggests, shifted the market toward greener building. In past years, we have rewarded builders who have either stepped up their participation in the program or have been on the cutting edge and thus have led the market forward. This year, in studying our certification numbers and evaluating factors driving Built Green’s success, green building incentives, especially in the city of Seattle, stood out as having truly helped move the market.

So, on December 8, at the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties’ Gala, Built Green presented the Moving the Market Award to the city of Seattle. Nathan Torgelson, director of the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections, and Jess Harris, the green building program manager for the Department of Construction and Inspections, were there to accept the award.

2018 Seattle Moving the Market Award, credit Alabastro Photography

How exactly have Seattle incentives moved the market? At the end of 2010, the city launched its Priority Green Expedited program, which shortens the time it takes to obtain a new construction permit. In addition, the city grants a floor area ratio bonus to builders who achieve Built Green® 4-Star certification or better on their projects.

About a year after the Priority Green program gained traction after the recession, we saw 4-Star certification become our most popular level, despite it not being the easiest level to obtain. By shaping and growing our portfolio and making green building more beneficial for our members, these incentives shaped the Seattle market as a whole. We now see about two-thirds of new single-family and townhome construction in Seattle achieving Built Green certification!

Certifications by Star Level in Seattle New Construction
Seattle Market Share in Single-Family New Construction up to 65% in 2017

In large part thanks to Seattle’s incentives, we have seen both the absolute number and market share of Built Green certifications in Seattle on the rise, proving the efficacy of well-crafted incentives and the benefits they provide to Built Green member-builders. These incentives, which spur more green building, are also beneficial to the environment and community members and aid Seattle in achieving its environmental and climate goals. As Nathan Torgelson pointed out in his acceptance remarks, “As a community, we get homes with a higher standard for energy efficiency, water conservation, waste reduction, and indoor air quality.”

Nathan continued, “We know Built Green will be with us in continuing to change the market towards net zero homes and meeting our goal of carbon neutrality in 2050.” He’s right! We look forward to working more with the city of Seattle to ensure this trend continues.


Photo courtesy Alabastro Photography


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