‘Super Massive’ smoke plume arrives over Seattle — UPDATE

Seattle’s smoke-filled sunrise (Image: CHS)

The expected push of heavy smoke from West Coast wildfires arrived across the Seattle region late Thursday night as air sensors tipped from “moderate” to “unhealthy” readings across the area.

The city woke up to a grey, fog-like layer and predictions that the smoke will last through the weekend and possibly into Monday. Continue reading

2020 Seattle smoke season arrives as Washington, Oregon, and California burn — UPDATE: ‘Smoke Alert!’

GOES imagery from Wednesday morning shows smoke moving northward

Unhealthy levels of wildfire smoke and ash that arrived in Seattle following the Labor Day holiday will likely persist and — possibly — increase in the skies above the city into Friday, forecasters say.

Seattle’s air quality Wednesday was considered “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups,” according to official guidelines and authorities continue to encourage people to stay inside and limit exposure. Continue reading

Environmental media nonprofit Grist joins the mix at Capitol Hill’s super green Bullitt Center

It’s a natural pairing. Seattle-based Grist, the Seattle-born media nonprofit that has been dedicated to environmental news, commentary, and ideas since 1999, is joining the Bullitt Center, 15th and Madison’s “living” office building.

Even as COVID-19 has changed the way we work, the environmental nonprofit say it still wants a central core where its staff of around 20 can collaborate.

“Grist employs staff all around the country, so we have been well equipped to effectively transition to remote work here in Seattle, too,” a statement sent to CHS about the planned Bullitt office reads. “We foresee using the Bullitt Center space for staff to engage in collaborative work and not necessarily use the office as an everyday destination, though, we might get back to that given a change in the current circumstances.” Continue reading

Equity, sustainability, and maybe a ‘superblock’ — Capitol Hill business owner is new EcoDistrict leader

Moodie at a conference with Capitol Hill business owners discussing the COVID-19 impact earlier this month (Image: CHS)

By Andrew LaChapelle, UW News Lab/Special to CHS

There are other problems in the world — and opportunities to address them — beyond COVID-19. Donna Moodie, a longtime Seattle restaurateur and owner of 14th and Union’s Marjorie, is already thinking about how to solve them.

Moodie took the helm as executive director of the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict program to start 2020.

Her organization is dedicated to equity and sustainability.

“I’ve been really inspired with the youth movement, trying to be more aware of the state we are leaving things in for the next generations to come,” Moodie said. Continue reading

‘Amazon Tax Legislation’ unveiled — Plan would tax payrolls of Amazon and Seattle’s ‘825 biggest companies’

Swatting away ethics concerns, Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant unveiled her proposal Wednesday morning that would raise $300 million for housing and environmental initiatives with a tax on Amazon and Seattle’s largest payrolls.

“On behalf of our movement, I’m excited to put forward this bold, transformative proposal,” Sawant said. “We know that big business, the wealthy, and the political establishment will staunchly oppose this, and that we will need a powerful movement. If we win, this will not only transform the lives of Seattle’s working people, it will set a historical marker for cities around the nation.”

The online giant remains in Sawant’s crosshairs. Sawant’s official Seattle City Council press release on the announcement calls her proposal the “Amazon Tax Legislation.” Continue reading

Design review: First Hill ‘Living Building’ will climb 21 stories and be constructed like LEGO, piece by piece

CollinsWoerman’s designs for 901 Madison

Madison Street’s next contribution to Seattle’s ultra-green Living Building program could be a 21-story apartment tower set to rise in unique fashion on First Hill. The development takes its first bow in front of the East Design Review Board Wednesday night.

Plans for the 901 Madison project detail a more than 170-unit building — around 45 of those units will be affordable using two housing programs, MFTE and Mandatory Housing Affordability — with new street level retail, and, yes, even though it will be super green, underground parking for 40 vehicles.

Developers Sustainable Living Innovations and architect CollinsWoerman plan to make use of the city’s Living Building incentive program that will allow two additional floors of height in exchange for meeting ecologically friendly building standards. The two floors, by the way, would boost the total units in the building by about 12%

The building is planned to generate 105% of the power it uses through a mixture of wastewater heat recovery (using the heat from hot water that goes down the drain), efficient heat pumps, and solar panels. They are also exploring the idea of using wastewater heat from nearby buildings. Continue reading

It’s about that bold climate action, boss — Youth climate activists push Mayor on Green New Deal executive order

Three young climate activists let Mayor Durkan know that they are looking to her for “bold climate action” (Image: SCCI)

With reporting by Seattle City Council Insight

In December, Mayor Jenny Durkan was named a “City Leader of the Year” in large part for her pledges to tackle climate change. 2020 begins with work to live up to the accolade.

Wednesday, Durkan signed an executive order specifying several actions that her administration will take to advance a “Green New Deal for Seattle.”

Last year the City Council passed a Green New Deal resolution and established an oversight board for environment-related work by the city. The resolution lists many actions, including studying the feasibility of the city purchasing renewable natural gas for use in buildings and the city’s transportation fleet and writing a “Green New Deal budget memo” as part of the annual budget process. Continue reading

Rent on Capitol Hill is too high for human composting — Neighborhood-born Recompose unveils plans for first facility in Seattle

(Image: Olson Kundig)

A revolution in “death care” with Capitol Hill roots will take first shape in a SoDo warehouse.

Rent on Capitol Hill is too high for composting humans.

Recompose has announced the location for its first human composting facility and unveiled architecture firm Olson Kundig’s designs for the 18,000+ square foot facility:

at the core of the recompose center is a modular system containing approximately 75 of these vessels, stacked and arranged to demarcate a central gathering space. there are also spaces for the storage and preparation of bodies, administrative back-of-house areas, and an interpretive public lobby which describes the recompose process. porous connections between indoor and outdoor spaces further blur the boundary between the human experience and natural processes.

Continue reading

Paving the way for taller buildings on smaller lots, 21-story First Hill apartments will be super green and use modular construction

A rendering of the planned 901 Madison high-rise

(Image: Sustainable Living Innovations)

A new high-rise residential building along Madison Street will make use of both the city’s Living Building initiative and a new modular construction technique as it climbs above First Hill.

The land on the corner of 9th Ave and Madison is currently home to the Quarter Lounge, George’s Delicatessen, and the now-empty former home of Lotus Asian Kitchen.

The building will be demolished to make way for a 21-story residential structure, with ground floor retail, being built by Sustainable Living Innovations.

Plans call for a 176-unit building, of which 47 will be affordable units, using two housing programs — MFTE and Mandatory Housing Affordability. The building will have a mix of sizes including efficiency, and 1- and 2-bedroom units. The affordable housing component will similarly have a mix of efficiency and 1- and 2-bedroom units. Five of the 47 affordable units will be 2-bedroom units.

The developers of the 901 Madison project say they are working with the existing retail tenants, and talking with the First Hill Improvement Association to find the best fit for retail in the area for the corner across the street from neighborhood icons Vito’s and The Sorrento Hotel. Continue reading

How $150K ‘Public Life Study’ could be start of creating a Capitol Hill pedestrian and bike-only superblock

It took two decades of community planning to guide the affordable housing and community space-rich “transit oriented development” set to open above Capitol Hill Station in 2020. Proponents hope a new community-driven plan will play out faster to grow the neighborhood’s Capitol Hill EcoDistrict and — ultimately — create a pedestrian-and cyclist-first “superblock” in the middle of the neighborhood.

The start of this new “Public Life” plan began this summer in Copenhagen and will, officials hope, take a small, $150,000 step forward this fall as the Seattle City Council puts its touches on the city’s next fiscal budget. The discussion will begin Friday in council chambers.

“It’s about focusing on the EcoDistrict to make it more pedestrian friendly and a model for sustainability,” citywide representative Lorena González tells CHS about her proposal to add funding for a “Public Life Study” of Capitol Hill and the longterm hopes for the plan to shape the neighborhood: Continue reading