Trade Ally Network Northwest

Seattle’s Bold Move

April 4, 2024 | Trade Ally Network NW

Building Emissions Performance Standards Set for a Greener Future

Seattle is once again at the forefront of environmental stewardship with the unanimous approval by the City Council and signing by Mayor Harrell of the Building Emissions Performance Standard (BEPS) Policy on December 13, 2023. This groundbreaking policy establishes carbon emissions targets for existing commercial and multifamily buildings larger than 20,000 square feet, aiming to reduce direct and indirect emissions from commercial buildings by 27% by 2050.

Commitment and support

The BEPS policy, developed through two years of stakeholder engagement, represents a pivotal step in Seattle’s commitment to improving energy efficiency and curbing climate impacts. By focusing on existing buildings, it addresses the need to retrofit and upgrade structures to meet stringent emissions targets over the next two to three decades.

Key elements of the BEPS policy include an emissions reduction requirement for buildings exceeding 20,000 square feet, aligning with Seattle’s broader goal of eliminating climate pollution from its largest buildings. To ensure widespread compliance, the policy incorporates flexibility, support for all building owners, and dedicated financial assistance, particularly directed towards facilities serving frontline communities.

Filling in the gaps

The Seattle BEPS dovetails with the Washington Clean Buildings Performance Standard (WA CBPS), which focuses on regulating energy use in existing buildings. While the state standard aims to enhance energy efficiency, its current targets alone would only result in a 4% reduction in Seattle building emissions by 2030. BEPS fills this gap by implementing stringent requirements for building owners, including verification of previous years’ energy and emissions data, documentation of current emissions performance and building equipment, and the development of plans to meet upcoming greenhouse gas intensity targets.

Building owners of the largest structures must demonstrate compliance by 2031 or seek alternative measures to achieve net-zero building emissions by 2050 or earlier. The BEPS policy also leads to the phasing out of building tune-ups after the 2023-2026 compliance interval to prevent overlap with the state standard.

Tackle the financial hurdle for your customers

BEPS applies to approximately 1,650 nonresidential buildings and 1,885 multifamily buildings, excluding parking, in Seattle. This encompasses high and mid-rise offices, hotels, schools, large warehouses, and retail establishments, along with an estimated 600 large buildings on campuses. Notably, buildings used for industrial and manufacturing purposes are exempt.

Bonneville Power Administration and local utility providers are actively tackling the financial hurdle by offering incentives to lower the upgrade costs. These incentives include increased benefits for TLEDs and networked lighting controls, as well as new rewards for eligible energy-efficient air-source and ductless heat pumps, regardless of the current heating setup. It’s important to note that today’s incentives may not be available in the future. This blend of incentives today and compliance enforcement tomorrow can serve as a strong motivator to overcome customers’ reluctance in pursuing energy efficiency upgrades.

Seattle’s BEPS policy marks a significant stride towards a greener, more sustainable urban landscape, showcasing the city’s commitment to environmental leadership and inspiring other municipalities to follow suit in the global effort to combat climate change.


Category: Technology