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Seattle’s Clean Buildings Accelerator program is BEPS-ready! 

Buildings remain one of the largest sources of climate pollution in Seattle, responsible for more than one-third of our greenhouse gas emissions. That’s why when Washington State launched new Clean Building Performance Standards in 2019 to reduce building energy usage, the City of Seattle’s Office of Sustainability and Environment (OSE) began developing the Seattle Clean Buildings Accelerator program (“the Accelerator”) to help under-resourced building owners comply with the law and save energy in cost-effective ways. Funded by Seattle’s Green New Deal, the Accelerator has been operational for two years and is ready to help those building owners reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to comply with the newly passed Seattle Building Emissions Performance Standard.     

In 2021, the City committed to reducing building-related emissions by at least 39% from the 2008 baseline by 2030 and to reach net-zero carbon by 2050 (Executive Order 2021-09). Standards like the State’s Clean Building Performance Standards and the City’s Building Emissions Performance Standard will help us meet that commitment. And the Accelerator will help building owners reduce the over 90% of building emissions in Seattle that come from the use of higher-emissions fuels like gas and oil for furnaces, water heaters, and appliances as they comply with these standards. 

Emissions from buildings, and other sources, pollute our air, accelerate climate change, and harm people’s health and the environment, disproportionately impacting people with lower incomes and communities of color. The most-recent City inventory of greenhouse gas emissions showed small decreases in building-related emissions, which are likely temporary and spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic, so as we rebound and resume “normal” operations, emissions will increase above pre-pandemic rates without substantial interventions. 

The Seattle Clean Building Accelerator program was launched in 2022 and provides no-cost compliance support for owners and managers of large (50,000 ft2 and larger) buildings to help them understand the WA State law and the then-proposed Seattle Building Emissions Performance Standard, identify energy and emission reduction opportunities, document their efforts, and meet performance targets. The program focuses its outreach on owners and managers of under-resourced buildings, especially buildings that serve or are in Frontline communities (as defined in the Seattle Green New Deal: Black people, Indigenous people, sovereign tribal nations, communities of color, immigrants, refugees, youths, elders, houseless people, disabled people, LGBTQ+ people, people with low and no income, and people who work in outdoor occupations). The Accelerator’s assistance comes in the form of self-paced learning using downloadable resources and templates, or light coaching for cohorts of building owners, possibly followed by emissions reduction planning for building owners who are ready to identify and implement projects for compliance and/or are in greatest need. The cohort coaching includes 

  • four live virtual workshops with building energy-efficiency experts, 
  • two live virtual energy scans to assess the building’s current energy usage and emissions, 
  • information about financial incentives and other funding opportunities for building retrofits, and 
  • coaching calls to help with retrofit planning and documentation and to provide one-on-one support.  

By the end of 2023, four cohorts totaling more than 30 building owners/managers will have completed the four-month-long light coaching approach, with a fifth cohort planned to begin in January. Cohort participants included representatives from a range of Seattle buildings and organizations, such as:  

  • Benaroya Hall Music Center 
  • El Centro de la Raza 
  • Pike Place Market Preservation and Development Authority 
  • Port of Seattle 
  • Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral 
  • Seattle Opera 
  • Seattle Public Schools 
  • Unico Properties LLC 
  • United Way of King County 
  • Wing Luke Museum 

At least 57% of the buildings that participated in the cohorts to-date met one or more of the emphasis areas for the initial phase of the Accelerator: 

In 2024, the Seattle Clean Building Accelerator program will expand to include mid-size buildings (20,000+ ft2, or so-called “Tier 2” buildings under the WA State law) as well as multifamily buildings, both with an emphasis on buildings serving or within frontline communities. In addition, Accelerator staff will be consulting with community members and building owners as they develop the processes and criteria to administer $4.5 million in City funding to provide financial assistance to buildings located in frontline communities to help them comply with the energy and emissions reduction requirements. The funding was included in the Mayor’s 2024 budget upon the recommendation of the City’s Green New Deal Oversight Board. Staff will also be seeking other funding sources to augment the City’s contribution. 

Learn more about the Seattle Clean Building Accelerator at and share your own story with us at Language assistance is available. 

What People Are Saying:

“The Accelerator made it easier to complete the tasks due under the WA State Clean Buildings Standards as well as helped to teach and explain to our board of directors, leadership, participants, and staff what we are doing, how we are doing it, and why we are doing it.” 

“Without the Accelerator, we would have paid one of our vendors to help us comply, and they do charge a lot of money for what I was able to do by myself. The cost would have been hard on our budget, as it would have been a surprise. ” 

Veronica A. Gallardo, Property Manager, El Centro de la Raza 

“The Seattle Clean Buildings Accelerator Program has given me a really solid overview of what the State of WA expects, and how to go about organizing and presenting the data they want to see. All of the organizations who participate in this program will find many useful insights, but the one that strikes me as particularly useful is the Virtual Energy Scan. This process will identify opportunities where your organization can benefit from infrastructure updates, or where the organization can adjust their building controls and schedules to reduce energy loads, like HVAC and lighting.” 

“Having this program available has been an invaluable resource to plan for and comply with the WA State Clean Buildings Standards.” 

Todd Clark, Facilities Manager, Seattle Opera 

“I found the Seattle Clean Building Accelerator program very helpful in guiding our small team at Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral through the requirements of the state and city laws for reducing our energy and carbon footprint. The interactive webinar workshops and coaching calls provided useful information as well as the tools and resources which we will use as we develop our energy management plan and operations and maintenance manual. This opportunity came along at just the right time to help us ramp up our energy improvements.” 

Kathy Minsch, Creation Care Ministry Co-Chair at Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral