Get on the battery bus: King County leads way with $90M+ plan for new electric buses

(Image: King County)

(Image: King County)

You likely won’t see one regularly crossing Capitol Hill until 2020 but King County Metro is accelerating its efforts to reduce emissions and become a carbon neutral system with a $90 million-plus plan to add more than 100 battery-only electric buses to its fleet.

“This puts us in on the forefront of innovation and technology,” King County Council member Rod Dembowski said. “We were innovators in wheelchair lifts. We were innovators in hybrid electric. Transit agencies look to us for what they’re going to adopt.”

“We are signaling that is is proven technology,” the county District 1 rep tells CHS. Continue reading

CHS Pics | Capitol Hill — and its living building — soak up chilly January sun

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

With highs in the 30s, Seattle’s La Nina January has started the year off with a chill. But the sharpest cold has also coincided with sunny, clear days. That’s good news for Capitol Hill living building the Bullitt Center where the solar arrays have been collecting about 43% of the office building’s energy needs from the sky.

The solar powered start to 2017 continues a trend. In 2016, the building generated more power than it used:

The Bullitt Center opened at 15th and Madison in 2013 and is still considered one of the greenest office buildings in the world. In October, CHS reported on efforts to kickstart the city’s Living Building incentive program to encourage more projects like the Bullitt. Capitol Hill is also home to 10th Ave E’s Bertschi School and its Living Science Building. Meanwhile, the next big green project on the horizon on Capitol Hill is slated to rise at 13th and Pike where plans are moving forward for Seattle’s first Passive House-certified mixed-use project.

Design review: What could be Capitol Hill’s (and Seattle’s) first Passive House-certified mixed-use project

screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-4-43-51-pmWednesday night’s session of the East Design Review Board includes what could be the final session before construction can begin on the Liberty Bank Building, a project that many hope can be a model for inclusive development in the Central District. Another trailblazing project — this one at 13th and Pike — could also pass through its final review Wednesday night.

Design review: 1300 E Pike

The project hoped to become Seattle’s first Passive House-certified mixed-use project will come to the board with developers Maria Barrientos and Cascade Built teaming up with architects Weber Thompson to take another crack at approval after falling just short in September. Continue reading

Three Days at Standing Rock fundraiser opens during Capitol Hill Art Walk

(Image: Alex Garland)

(Image: Alex Garland)

Two photographers who have captured images of life around Capitol Hill have collaborated on a project to capture scenes of protest from the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline and in defense of the Lakota Nation. Three Days at Standing Rock opens at 11th Ave’s Vermillion Thursday night as part of the monthly Capitol Hill Arts Walk.

Three Days at Standing Rock opening

Frequent CHS contributor Alex Garland and freelance photographer Kelly O were drawn to the cause and teamed up for a North Dakota road trip:

On September 19th, with a rented mini-van and some donated food and clothing, we set out with our cameras. While nothing as violent as the incidents on September 3rd took place, we were grateful for this opportunity to stand, even for a short time, with Standing Rock—to see and hear what the water protectors were saying and what they were doing to fight for their rights. And the fight isn’t over. Winter is coming, and water protectors are being arrested, daily, at an alarming rate.

All proceeds from sales Thursday night will be donated to the Red Warrior Camp at Standing Rock, the artists said. The show runs at Vermillion through December 3rd.


State says good news after Capitol Hill gypsy moth spray

Washington State Department of Agriculture officials aren’t declaring victory but the latest trap counts indicate its spring eradication strategy in the war against the invasive gypsy moth was a deadly one for the pest.

“While it is too early to declare the spring treatments a success, this year’s trapping results are very encouraging,” said Jim Marra, WSDA’s Pest Program Manager who oversaw the spraying program. “Two to three years of trapping after treatment are necessary before WSDA determines whether a treatment has been successful,” the announcement on the latest counts reads. Continue reading

As Hill’s Bullitt Center continues to stand alone, Seattle looks to open up Living Building program

We’re in the middle of a construction boom and the city is as green as they come but Seattle’s program designed to foster showcases of environmental best practices only has one true Living Building to show for it. But a new package of changes to city codes could result in more buildings like Capitol Hill’s Bullitt Center finally sprouting up around Seattle.

“The large amount of construction we’re seeing in the city right now and strong commitment from not only builders and architects in the community… it’s surprising we haven’t seen more Living Buildings in the program,” City Council Planning, Land Use, and Zoning Committee chair Rob Johnson said last week as the group passed legislation hoped to kickstart the program.

Many of the proposed changes are technical adjustments to better align city laws with recent changes in state laws or to streamline city buildings codes. A few are also designed to make buildings more energy efficient generally, such as requiring high-efficiency heaters, or making buildings ready for solar panels.

But a number of them are designed to make Living Buildings like the Bullitt Center more feasible. Continue reading

City fleet’s 30% goal puts Seattle electric car initiative into first gear

Mayor Ed Murray and City Council member Mike O’Brien test drove an electric vehicle this week to celebrate progress on Seattle’s electric car initiative, a plan that includes improving the infrastructure for EVs, electrifying the city’s own vehicle fleet, and continuing Seattle’s ongoing conquest to cut carbon emissions and pollution from transit.

In the video of the stunt, we learn Murray does the driving in this relationship, neither of these guys drive very often, Murray owns a Subaru Forester, and O’Brien can spout EV trivia like Rain Man. We also learn that the City Council’s Transportation and Sustainability committee Wednesday approved a resolution “which sets a goal to have 30% of all light-duty vehicles in Seattle operate under electric power by the year 2030.” The EV champions Murray and O’Brien also “announced their intention to significantly expand electric vehicle infrastructure in Seattle, such as charging stations, to encourage and serve the electric vehicle demand.” Continue reading

Lummi Nation raises environmental awareness by bringing totem pole to Capitol Hill

A 22-foot totem pole made one of its first stops on a 5,000-mile journey Thursday night at Capitol Hill’s St. Mark’s.

The Lummi Nation House of Tears Carvers brought the pole to St. Mark’s Cathedral to celebrate the nation’s victory against coal export at “Xwe’chi’eXen” — Cherry Point.

Seattle City Council member and former chair of the Washington chapter of the Sierra Club Mike O’Brien spoke at the event that brought together Lummi Nation members, environmentalists, representatives of Earth Ministry and the Sierra Club, and interested members of the public for a ceremony and celebration.

“The work that’s happening here today gives me hope,” O’Brien said. Continue reading

Climate Change Impacts on Forests & Snowpack

How bad will forest fires be in the future? Will the snowpack be enough for the  ski season, and will it supply enough water to last the summer?
Diana Gergel, Graduate Fellow, Northwest Climate Science Center, will speak on global warming impacts on snowpack and forest fire risk in the Western United States. This talk is part of a climate change series by Cascadia Climate Action.

Capitol Hill’s greenest office space is full (but you can still get your own desk)

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

The world’s first “living” office building is now full to capacity with long-term tenants and working on approval for the final piece of its energy conservation system. Meanwhile, just as the building eliminates the coworking space it initially had, one tenant is opening up its own.

The Bullitt Center at 1501 E Madison was completed in 2013. The building’s claim to the ‘greenest office building’ title comes from its commitment to producing a net zero of energy and water use over the course of every year. The building has 575 solar panels on the roof to collect energy, and a 50,000 square foot cistern to gather rainwater for building use. Each organization in the center gets an energy and water budget based on the square footage it occupies.

The building started out with a coworking space and an assortment of smaller tenants, and has now worked its way up to seven large tenants, most of which are on seven year leases. Bullitt Center spokesperson Brad Kahn said that as a landlord, it is easier to have seven large tenants than 50 small ones. The building has also shut down the coworking space it used to have on the fourth floor, which Kahn said was a stop-gap while the center searched for larger tenants.

One of those tenants is opening up its own coworking space in the building, however. The International Future Living Institute is in the process of moving to a new space in the Bullitt Center, and opened up some of its old digs for coworking as of this month. Continue reading

Seattle — especially its businesses — falling short of recycling goals

Horse-drawn garbage wagon, 1915

Seattle Public Utilities is preparing a rate hike for the around 1 million tons of garbage, compost, and recycling the city’s citizens and businesses create ever year. But the bigger deal might be that even in green Seattle, we are falling behind recycling goals.

In 2015, the city recycled 58% of its MSW — municipal solid waste — that’s two percentage points short of goals set in 2013, according to a recent presentation to the Seattle City Council.

Tuesday, a council committee will discuss SPU’s proposed rate hikes of 7.2% in 2017, 1.9% in 2018, and 4% in 2019. The city says the monthly solid waste bill for a typical residential customer is currently around $44.85. SPU says the increases are necessary to help offset the costs of its Utility Discount Program for low income residents and to upgrade the recycling center at its South Transfer Station and complete the new North Transfer Station, set to be open by the end of 2017. Continue reading

Time to spray Capitol Hill for gypsy moths: Here’s how to sign up for alerts

UPDATE: The spraying effort began Wednesday morning, April 20th.

There is a “reproducing group” of destructive gypsy moths loose on a corner of Capitol Hill and the state is preparing plans for eradication. Officials say the organic pesticide Btk is not toxic to humans but recommend minimizing exposure. If you’re planning a short vacation away from the Miller Park neighborhood when the state’s “small airplane” drops its payload, you had better keep your bags packed.

A Washington State Department of Agriculture spokesperson tells CHS that the spraying process is highly weather dependent and with the current warm spell over this area of Washington, the state may get an itchy trigger finger for the start of the project currently targeting the first week of May:

Current models project that treatments for the Vancouver area will begin between April 22 – 25. Vancouver treatments will be conducted by helicopter.

We anticipate that the remaining sites further north (Seattle, Tacoma, Kent, Gig Harbor, Nisqually, and Lacey) will begin treatments the first week of May. These areas will be treated by a small airplane.

Reminder: All treatment times are highly dependent on the weather. Should we have warmer or colder weather than anticipated, treatment times could start earlier or later. To receive notifications when treatments actually occur, sign up for our alerts via e-mail, text, or robo call.

The spokesperson suggests if you’re concerned about the spraying, you should sign up for the alerts as soon as possible just in case the timetable gets moved up. Continue reading