Seattle City Council Resolution 31562 Passes Unanimously

Screen Shot 2015-01-28 at 8.33.15 AMToday, the Council voted 9-0 to pass Resolution 31562. It was an important moment for the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict. The Council (and the Mayor is expected to sign in concurrence) has resolved that “the City of Seattle will support the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict as a framework and agent for advancing City sustainability goals within the EcoDistrict boundaries.” Many thanks to the community leaders who came to give testimony on behalf of the EcoDistrict, including Michael Wells, Executive Director from the Capitol Hill Chamber, 45 year Capitol Hill resident, former Capitol Hill Champion Chair and Hillebrity Cathy Hillenbrand, Chris Persons, CEO from Capitol Hill Housing, SAAS teacher and Vino Verite owner Tom Hajduk, Neelima Shah from Bullitt Foundation, Matthew Combe from Seattle 2030 District, Michelle Hippler from the EcoDistrict Steering Committee, and Sue Cary from the Capitol Hill Foundation Board. Appreciation also to folks who wrote to Council in support of the Resolution and EcoDistrict. Here are excerpts from two of those emails:

…we [the Capitol Hill Community Council] are unequivocally supportive of the EcoDistrict and are grateful that you passed Resolution 31562, declaring the City of Seattle will support the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict … Capitol Hill Housing

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and the EcoDistrict are a vital part of the existing (and future) cultural, economic, and social ecosystem of Capitol Hill.Zachary Pullin, Vice President, Capitol Hill Community Council PPUNC fully and enthusiastically supports the Capitol Hill Eco-District. We have often discussed the District at our meetings, and how many shared goals there are between our Conservation Overlay and the broader goals of the District.John Feit, Chair, Pike Pine Urban Neighborhood Council

Today was exciting and it was humbling to sit and hear community leaders and Councilmembers express their confidence in the EcoDistrict. We believe the EcoDistrict is a strong model for neighborhood sustainability and hope the City will continue to grow in its support. During comments leading up to the vote, Councilmember Licata pointed out that a resolution doesn’t get recorded into Screen Shot 2015-01-28 at 8.37.18 AMCity Code. In other words, it is more an expression of intent than law, and the language in the body of Resolution 31562 definitely veers towards the encouragement of City Departments’ engagement rather than requiring their help. At the PLUS Committee hearing on the Resolution last Friday, Licata suggested including stronger language requiring departmental accountability, but the Committee decided instead to ask City departments, led by the Office of Sustainability and Environment, to return to the PLUS Committee in the 3rd quarter of 2015 to give an accounting of progress in meeting the goals outlined in the Resolution. We look forward to future meetings and dialogue with the Council and City Departments. Today, we’re grateful for this victory and the Resolution’s expression of intent.

Capitol Hill EcoDistrict | Metrics for Capitol Hill – Version 1.0 of the EcoDistrict Index released

[This post was originally published in the Capitol Hill Seattle Blog on January 25] IBM estimates that 2.5 quintillion, that’s 2.5 billion billion (2.5 x 1018) bytes of data are created every day. The bulk is from social media, machine data (e.g., coming from automated sensors like the ones on the Capitol Hill Community Solar project), and transactional data from when we buy stuff. Companies like IBM are racing to improve their ability to sift, interpret and sell this data as a commodity. In

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2015 the market for data analysis services will reach $16.8B and is expected to grow exponentially into the foreseeable future. The promise of big data, according to Steve Lohr at the New York Times, “is smarter, data-driven decision-making in every field.” The private sector is cashing in. Community activists are catching on and seeking ways to access and analyze data for the public good. Maurice Mitchell, a community organizer in Manhattan, claims that “prescriptions for our most pressing social issues emerge from the patterns found in the bonanza of collected data points.” He points to how analyzing data from the NYPD’s stops and arrests helped to uncover the racially disproportionate application of stop-and-frisk. On Capitol Hill, we will use publicly available data to help track progress in meeting the goals of the EcoDistrict. Last month we launched the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict Index, a set of performance metrics backed by data from a variety of sources, from local street counts to the U.S. Census. Performance targets are set for the year 2030. We aligned the timeframe with our partners at the Seattle 2030 District, in part because we share a commitment to reducing the water and climate impacts of buildings, but also because 15 years seems long enough to make real progress and short enough to express urgency in addressing serious challenges related to climate change and neighborhood health. With help from community advisors and partner organizations, we selected performance metrics relevant to real social and environmental issues on the Hill, can be tabulated and updated each year, and are easy to communicate. The current iteration of the EcoDistrict Index tracks data in seven performance areas: equity, health, water, energy, habitat, transportation, and materials. We will add metrics for culture in the next round. We’ve calculated baselines and set ambitious targets for reducing waste, ensuring affordability, increasing transit use and cycling, preserving trees, and improving public safety. The building energy use and water goals align with the Seattle 2030 District. Other Index targets are extrapolated from City planning goals. For example, the target of 21% tree cover is drawn from the City’s 2013 Urban Forest Stewardship Plan and adjusted for Capitol Hill based on current land use patterns in the neighborhood. The target of 70% waste diversion, i.e. diverting waste away from the landfill into recycling and composting, is from the Zero Waste Resolution adopted by the City Council in 2007. This waste reduction target is very ambitious for Capitol Hill where most people live in apartments, a segment of the residential sector that has lagged far behind single-family homes on recycling. Index-Table-2-1024x413 Aligning with the metrics of partner organizations like Seattle 2030 and the City makes sense. The metrics have been vetted and the data is available. It also helps to share a common language across multiple urban scales so we can compare our progress against other neighborhoods and the City as a whole. The Capitol Hill EcoDistrict Index is a work in progress. Do we know how Capitol Hill will meet these targets? Not entirely, but we know it’s going to take an effort from every resident, business, and building owner. Do the indicators cover the breadth of issues the EcoDistrict needs to address? No, but they’re a start. The Index will continue to evolve with help from neighborhood stakeholders. We welcome community input to the current and further iterations of the EcoDistrict Index. Beginning in February, Alex Brennan, Capitol Hill Housing’s Senior Planner, will publish a series of blog posts about the Index here on the EcoDistrict website. He’ll do a deeper dive on the individual baselines and targets, and outline plans for incorporating feedback and additional metrics over the next several years. Like data? We’d love your thoughts as we work on the next version. Come geek out with us.

Sally Clark asks, Should every urban village be an EcoDistrict?

The Urban Village Strategy in Seattle’s Comprehensive Plan directs growth to concentrate density in centers across the City. From the City of Seattle

website:

The four core values of Seattle’s Comprehensive Plan are: Screen Shot 2015-01-24 at 12.07.31 PMCommunity – developing strong connections between a diverse range of people and places Environmental Stewardship – protect and improve the quality of our global and local natural environment Economic Opportunity and Security – a strong economy and a pathway to employment is fundamental to maintaining our quality of life Social Equity – limited resources and opportunities must be shared; and the inclusion of under-represented communities in decision-making processes is necessary Our plan’s urban village strategy supports the core values by:

  • Directing growth to existing urban centers and villages
  • Contributing to the vibrancy of our neighborhood centers
  • Reinforcing the benefits of City investments in transit, parks, utilities, community centers, and other infrastructures

The Capitol Hill EcoDistrict is an active effort to make that density in the Pike/Pine, Capitol Hill and 12th Avenue Urban Villages healthy and livable. During discussion of Resolution 31562 at yesterday’s PLUS Committee, Councilmember Sally Clark ponders the potential of the EcoDistrict model for other urban villages in Seattle. Screen Shot 2015-01-24 at 11.59.29 AM

I think this is great… I’ll admit, I was one of those people who, when Chris Persons [Capitol Hill Housing CEO] started talking about [the Capitol Hill] EcoDistrict, I’m like, ‘I don’t know what that is. What is he talking about? What is that going to look like?’ And as it’s matured…now my thing is, well, do I want to have just one EcoDistrict or should every urban village really be an EcoDistrict? We’re trying [via the Urban Village strategy] to create yes, a concentration through zoning, but that doesn’t make community, and that doesn’t make progress necessarily…

Clark goes on to say that real community building is “about being really intentional about how people live together, so I think this [EcoDistrict] approach is great.”  

PLUS Committee Approves EcoDistrict Resolution

On Friday, the Planning Land Use and Sustainability Committee of the Seattle City Council approved Council Resolution 31562. The Full Council will vote on it Monday at 2pm. You can watch our presentation to the PLUS Committee HERE starting at about the 28:00 minute mark. Screen Shot 2015-01-24 at 11.08.44 AM   Resolution 35612 brings formal recognition of the EcoDistrict from the City, as well as encouragement to City Departments to work with us in the EcoDistrict’s success. Here is the meat of the Resolution:

Section 1. City departments are encouraged to recognize the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict and its intersection with departmental work including, but not limited to, the Office of Sustainability and Environment, the Department of Neighborhoods, the Office of Arts and Culture, the Office of Economic Development, the Office of Housing, the Department of Parks and Recreation, the Department of Planning and Development, Seattle City Light, the Seattle Department of Transportation, and Seattle Public Utilities. Section 2. City

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departments are encouraged to review and provide feedback on EcoDistrict performance targets and provide access to available City data and analysis for tracking EcoDistrict performance targets. Section 3. City departments are encouraged to explore tools and incentives that may advance the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict and remove identified regulatory barriers that thwart EcoDistrict initiatives in the context of the City’s broader sustainability and neighborhood development goals.

We’d love a showing of community support at Monday’s Full Council meeting (2pm City Hall). Bring a friend!

Community Solar Update!

We’re over half way there! Thanks to your enthusiastic support, we’ve passed the half way mark—over 513 units of our Community Solar array have been sold! The 26kW system located atop the Holiday Apartments went LIVE in late November and (even with our

gray weather) has been producing clean, locally generated, renewable energy for the grid ever since! You can view real-time data from the system here. Want to join in on the fun? Sign up today (starting at $150)! Community Solar is a way for residents to participate and receive the benefits of solar without having their own solar arrays on their roof—and in this case also supports a great cause! Here’s how it works:

  1. Buy Solar Units: Any City Light customer can sign up, starting at $150
  2. Get Paid Back: Earn your investment back via credits on your bill until 2020
  3. Feel Good: This project produces clean energy, supports the regional economy (all of the system components and labor are locally sourced!), and reduces the long-term operating costs of affordable housing.

sign_up_now

Follow us on facebook or twitter for all the updates!

 

Become a Solar Sponsor!

Know a local business or community organization interested in supporting solar and affordable housing? The Capitol Hill EcoDistrict invites local businesses and institutions to participate in the Capitol Hill Community Solar Project as “Solar Sponsors.” This is your chance to support neighborhood sustainability, get recognized for your contribution and earn back your investments via credits on your electricity bill!

See our current solar sponsors!

This is a limited time opportunity. For purchasing 7 or more solar units before March 15th, Solar Sponsors will receive the following recognition benefits:

This sponsorship is an investment via your electric bill that will be repaid to your business between now and June 2020–thus you can gain the benefits of sponsorship while earning your money back AND supporting a great community project!

Become a Solar Sponsor

For more information on the program (and to sign up as a sponsor or an individual!) visit City Light’s Community Solar page.

You can find additional sponsorship information for the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict here or get in touch with Joel Sisolak at JSisolak@capitolhillhousing.org.

Hill Wonk

I’m pretty excited to be the newest “Hill Wonk” columnist for CHS Seattle.  Here’s a link to my first column. A brief excerpt below.

 

solar installWhy should we care about a little solar project? 90% of the electricity we use in Seattle is from hydroelectric dams, including City-owned dams on the Skagit, Pend Oreille and Cedar Rivers.  As energy sources go, hydro is already low carbon and renewable. You might say, “90%, that’s great!  A solid ‘A-minus!’”

But where does the other 10% come from? Some of it is wind power, but about half is nuclear and coal fired energy purchased from Bonneville Power Administration by City Light. Nuclear and coal power bought and sold by the “nation’s greenest utility?!”

We can and should do better. Seattle needs to stop importing BPA’s dirty power and become a net exporter of clean energy to cities more heavily reliant on nuclear, coal and oil.  This can happen, even as our city continues growing, via conservation and investment in solar. With a mix of private and public investment, our whole city could begin to “spin the dial backwards” as we send solar and hydro electrons streaming out of Seattle.

In Capitol Hill, we are helping to lead this (counter)revolution. A 25kW system isn’t much, but it’s a promising start. The Holiday Apartments array is City Light’s 3rd community solar project and its first on Capitol Hill.

Happy Thanksgiving

Here in the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict, we have tons to be thankful for. Today I want to give special props and gratitude to the EcoDistrict Steering Committee: Michael Mariano (co-chair) Schemata Workshop Neelima Shah (co-chair) Bullitt Foundation Alicia Uhlig GGLO Charles Bowers CBRE/Group Health Clayton Smith Sustainable Capitol Hill David Dologite

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Capitol Hill Housing/Pike-Pine Urban Neighborhood Council Erik Rundell EcoNW Erika Melroy Recology CleanScapes Heather Burpee University of Washington/Integrated Design Lab Julie West Seattle King County Public Health Leon Garnett Centerstone/Squire Park CommunityCouncil Liz Dunn Dunn & Hobbes/Pike-Pine Urban Neighborhood Council/CHH Board Matthew Combe Seattle 2030 District Michelle Caulfield City of Seattle – OSE Michelle Hippler Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce Rob Schwartz Seattle University/CHH Board Ric Cochrane Milepost Consulting Whitney Fraser Environment International LTD/Dyke March   THANK YOU!

Green Biz Program

This Fall, we’re making it easier for local businesses to conserve resources, save money and improve our neighborhood! Local businesses are key stakeholders in creating a vibrant and sustainable neighborhood. Too often, however, they lack the resources, support or time to take the next steps towards that goal. In partnership with the City and other community organizations, the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict’s Green Business

program supports local businesses and acknowledges their efforts on behalf of the planet. Check out the different opportunities here and get in touch with Arielle Lawson (alawson@capitolhillhousing.org)to participate.

EcoDistrict Update – October

Welcome to our monthly update!

Rendering of the soon-to-be installed solar panels atop the Holiday(image: Bonneville Environmental Foundation)

Rendering of the soon-to-be installed solar panels atop the Holiday (image: Bonneville Environmental Foundation)

It’s been a busy few weeks – We moved our office to 12th Avenue Arts, launched a community solar program (more below), and unveiled this website!

Monthly updates are new, too. Our mini-dispatches will feature the latest news from the EcoDistrict. We promise to keep it short – with important info and clear invitations to action.

Let us know what you think!  If you like what you see, please share with your friends and colleagues. If you have suggestions on content you’d like to see here, send them our way.


Community Solar is Launched

Our biggest news is the official launch of Capitol Hill Community Solar, a collaborative venture with Seattle City Light. You may have heard about it in the Seattle Weekly or Capitol Hill Seattle blog. You can “buy in” to the program for as little as $150 spread across your next two electric bills. The more solar units you buy, the more you’ll benefit affordable housing, local jobs and the growing clean energy sector AND the more you stand to save on your electric bill.

takeaction  Enroll in Community Solar today

NOTE: You’ll need your Seattle City Light account number to sign up. If you don’t have your account number handy, there’s a phone number on the page you can call to get it during business hours. Once you enter your account number, you’ll be able to choose to support the Capitol Hill project.

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