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2021 OSE Year in Review

Michelle Caulfield

Letter from Interim Director, Michelle Caulfield

Dear OSE Friends & Colleagues,

The start of a new year is always a time of reflection – an opportunity to consider the past year and look boldly toward the opportunities ahead. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, OSE hit the ground running in 2021, working with City departments and community stakeholders to advance equitable communities and reduce climate impacts. I am proud of our accomplishments and the way our team – along with City staff from every department – stepped up to meet unprecedented community need.  

In 2021, we awarded the most-ever in funds for BIPOC-led grantees through the Environmental Justice Fund. We saw the implementation of the new building energy code to eliminate most fossil fuel uses in commercial and large multi-family buildings. We launched the Transportation Electrification Blueprint, Seattle’s strategy for electrifying everything that moves people, goods, and services throughout our city. All the while, our food team continued to address rising food insecurity due to COVID and expanded Fresh Bucks to include more customers and more retailers.

OSE also supported the establishment of the City’s first-ever Green New Deal Oversight Board and worked with the Mayor to assemble $8.5M of Duwamish Valley investments to implement community priorities, a $14M package of investments to advance Seattle’s Green New Deal, and a Climate Executive Order to eliminate fossil fuels from existing buildings, expand transit access and Healthy Streets, and advance clean energy workforce development.

Looking ahead, the OSE team continues to advance climate and environmental justice priorities under the leadership of Mayor Bruce Harrell and in partnership with all of you. We are over-the-moon excited to leverage new federal investments and Seattle’s Green New Deal to make big climate and community resilience impacts in 2022 and the years to come. I am hopeful that 2022 will be another unprecedented year – but with a record level of progressive policies and investments to combat the climate crisis, protect natural ecosystems, advance environmental justice, foster healthy food systems, develop a more resilient and healthier communities, and keep Seattle green.

As we close out 2021, we want to thank you for all you do for sustainability and the environment. We wish you a wonderful holiday season and a very Happy New Year. As is our tradition, we leave you with OSE’s 2021 by the numbers, with thanks to so many organizations and community members whose partnership made these activities possible.

Thank you for your partnership.


Michelle Caulfield, Interim Director
Office of Sustainability and Environment

OSE’s 2021 By the Numbers: 

  • Grant proposals received for the 2021 Environmental Justice Fund cycle: Dollars requested: $2.8 million. Dollars granted: $750,000
  • Dollars of COVID emergency grocery vouchers distributed before sunsetting the program in July: $25.4 million. Households served: 14,000
  • Appointments made to the Green New Deal Oversight Board: 15
  • Members of the GNDOB Inter-Departmental Team, to support the Green New Deal from inside City government: 21
  • Number of people who attended the Environmental Justice Committee’s panel on Tribal and Native Perspectives on the Connection of Energy and Climate Justice: 173
  • OSE staff members interviewed on live TV, talking about electrifying “everything that moves people, goods, and services” & educating viewers about Seattle’s first-in-the-nation Transportation Electrification Blueprint: 1
  • Equitable Road Pricing Strategies Workshops with BIPOC Community leaders: 7
  • Fresh produce boxes distributed to SPS students to help meet food insecurity needs: 221,000
  • Fresh Bucks customers enrolled to receive $40/month: 12,000. Percent of those customers from priority RSJI communities: 75%. Community-based organizations contracted to support that enrollment:
  • Dollars secured from King County’s Conservation Futures Tax to acquire property in South Park to expand an existing park, increase river access, and site a building for community-supportive services (in collaboration with SPR and OPCD): $2,000,000
  • Affordable housing units that will be created in South Park with OH’s purchase of 2 properties, advancing the priorities of the Duwamish Valley Action Plan: 100+
  • Small businesses in South Park and Georgetown provided with COVID support through a reallocation of OSE general funds: Percent of these businesses that are BIPOC-owned: 92%
  • Listening sessions held with stakeholders and BIPOC community members to inform tree protection updates (with SDCI): 12
  • Percent energy reduction in municipal buildings since 2008: 23.5%. Percent above target: 3.5%
  • City-owned buildings occupied by CBOs providing community services with completed energy efficiency upgrades: 3 (South Park Neighborhood Center, NeighborCare at Columbia City, and Daybreak Star)
  • Percent of Seattle’s largest buildings compliant with Tune-Up law: 91%
  • Number of Seattle buildings that will save significant energy via a tune-up: 660
  • Benchmarking & Tune-Up technical assistance inquiries handled to help owners comply: 3,325
  • South Seattle College Sustainable Building Science Technology benchmarking outreach interns sponsored: 4
  • Households the City helped convert from oil to heat pumps since the Clean Heat program inception in 2017: 850. Gallons of oil per year avoided: 425,000. MTCO2e avoided: 63,000
  • Followers on OSE’s Twitter: 2,003. Total tweets throughout the year: 400. Impressions from those tweets: 435,000
  • News articles placed about OSE’s work or featuring OSE staff members: 35. Average per month: 2-3
  • Number of state legislative climate-, environmental- and food-related bills reviewed by the OSE team: 50
  • Major climate Executive Orders passed: 1
  • Number of OSE staff members thankful for your service and wishing you a Happy New Year: All of us!