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Seattle mayor issues executive order aimed at reducing city’s greenhouse gas emissions

The executive order will create new carbon-based building performance standards, ban fossil fuels in city-owned buildings and expand access to public transportation.

SEATTLE — Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced a new executive order Monday that aims to reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions and help transition to a city without fossil fuels.

Durkan announced the executive order while representing Seattle at the COP26 Climate Summit in Glasgow, Scotland.

The executive order will create new carbon-based building performance standards, ban fossil fuels in city-owned buildings by 2035, expand access to public transportation and Seattle’s Stay Healthy Streets program and advance a more diverse clean energy workforce, among other things.

The order is projected to cut the city’s building carbon emissions an additional 27% by 2050, according to Durkan’s office.

“From a new normal of smoky summers and dangerous heat in Seattle, I have never seen the impacts of climate change that we are now facing,” said Durkan. “We’ve invested billions to support green transportation, efficient buildings, and other policies to mitigate climate change, but we know we need to do more to reach net zero."

Buildings are one of Seattle’s fastest-growing sources of emissions and account for more than 33% of the city’s climate pollution, according to the mayor’s office.

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As part of the executive order, the Office of Sustainability and Environment was directed to create legislation for carbon-based building performance standards for commercial and multifamily buildings that are 20,000 square feet or larger by July 2022. The executive order also bans the use of fossil fuels in city-owned buildings by 2035 and creates a report providing options to lower upfront and operating costs for affordable housing.

“Seattle needs to take serious and significant action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from buildings,” said Amy Wheeless, senior policy associate at the NW Energy Coalition. “A carbon-focused building performance standard is a cornerstone to that effort and will build on the success and work at the state and city level to reduce energy use.”

In addition, Durkan’s executive order will expand free public transit for Seattle Public Schools students by providing additional ORCA cards to students through the end of the 2021-2022 school year.

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) will also begin a stakeholder process to establish the city’s first pedestrian zone, building on the already established 20 miles of permanent Stay Healthy Streets, with the goal of implementation by summer 2022. The SDOT is also tasked with creating legislation designating curb space only for zero-emission vehicle access to make it easier for residents and businesses to move away from fossil fuels and go electric.

The executive order will also create a Clean Energy Workforce Committee "to advance green economic equity goals."

Click here to read Durkan's full executive order.