Seattle Prioritizes Green Building

The City of Seattle recently announced Priority Green, a new program that provides incentives for and prioritizes green construction projects. This program, says the city, will promote and facilitate green innovation, design, and efficiency

The city breaks its program, announced by the Seattle Department of Planning and Development, into three categories, Expedited, Facilitated, and Tools. Expedited shortens review times for family homes and commercial buildings that meet sufficient Built Green and LEED certifications. Facilitated assists all innovative green building projects that encounter code problems. Tools provides incentives to assist innovative green building projects meet code requirements.

This is not the first time Planet Forward has examined green building-related issues dealing with LEED.

First, how important is it that the projects in Priority Green meet LEED certification standards? One Planet Forward member draws attention to what he feels are the many loopholes in the LEED system, saying the "report card" style system "is more about 'smart test taking' rather then environmentally sound architecture and design". Another member commented in reply, saying that although LEED has its problems, "many people are examining and questioning this rating system in order to elevate standards and to use dependable metrics for technical design".

Member  John Eaton says it's more important to help adapt and drive innovation and ideas "that can help building owners and operators navigate this LEED-driven marketplace".

Officials in Ogden, Utah would argue that their renovated, LEED-certified government building has helped change their city, while Las Vegas is touting their new LEED-certified system, one of the largest in the world.

Incentives to build green seem like a good thing. Even better, incentives to build green coupled with assistance that makes it even easier to do, seem like a good thing. It's difficult to complain with Seattle on that point, but what about the Priority Green LEED-certification requirements?

Priority Green is a step in a new direction. The easier the process is, the more people will do it.

There's been back and forth debate, especially here at Planet Forward, with how we should approach LEED. What do you think? Should we look for something else? Should we adapt it? Is it a good thing that has been beneficial to cities and the environment? Or, is the whole system more of a marketing tool than an environmental game-changer? Share your thoughts below...

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