Seattle City Releases Data on City-Owned Building Energy Use

Cover of Muni Bldg Energy UseSeattle Discloses Energy Use of City-Owned Buildings

The City of Seattle is providing the public a closer look at the energy use of City-owned buildings in a new report, Seattle Municipal Buildings 2011 – 2012 Energy Use Performance Report. The report released in May describes City efforts to evaluate the energy efficiency of 6.2 million square feet of City-owned and operated building space. The report also details actions the City is taking to improve the energy efficiency of its facilities.

“We hope that sharing the City’s results from evaluating our buildings’ energy use encourages other owners to do the same,” said Jill Simmons, Director of the Office of Sustainability & Environment. “Taking a close look at the energy performance of our facilities helps identify cost-effective opportunities to save energy and free up taxpayer resources for other important City services.” Read more about the report.

Visit GreenLife @ West Seattle Summerfest Friday, Saturday & Sunday, July 12 thru 14

Screen Shot 2013-07-09 at 11.49.54 amGreenLife will once again be an integral element of the West Seattle Summerfest – West Seattle’s annual three-day super street festival along California Avenue in the West Seattle Junction.

Sustainable West Seattle and the West Seattle Nursery are sponsoring GreenLife, located in the Chase Bank drive-through area next to Sleepers in Seattle and adjacent to Edmunds Street SW.

The GreenLife area has vendor booths for local businesses which specialize in green and sustainable services, technologies and products, and there are local organization and non-profit booths featuring groups which play a major role in education, advocacy and leadership in the sustainable and environmental awareness fields.

We will also have a series of presentations and demonstrations throughout the three-day weekend. Each day on the GreenLife stage there will be speakers offering tips on home canning, electrical generation using solar cells on your roof, making beer in your backyard (or basement), a tutorial on how to safely and efficiently use bikes with your kids to get around town and many more. To see a larger version of the schedule, click on the image to open a new window with a larger version. The presentations are being underwritten by Alki Bike and Board, 2606 California Ave. SW, in the Admiral District.

The Mobile Tool Library will also be stationed at the GreenLife entrance and visitors can tour and learn more about the Mobile library and the more extensive West Seattle Tool Library located at the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center.  The Tool Library just expanded its weekly schedule and is now open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:00 to 8:00 pm and Saturdays and Sundays from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm.

A special feature of the GreenLife presentations will be a choreographed dance presentation called “Slavery of the System.” More information on this special presentation is at the end of this article.

Organizations and Businesses Who Will Be At GreenLife Include:

Special Dance Presentation:

Slavery of the System is the first installment of the Illuminatio trilogy, a collaboration based on the work, Illuminatio: Yo Soy, written by Spanish playwright Antonio Delgado at the beginning of Spain’s economic crisis in 2008. From the Latin word meaning ‘illumination,’ Illuminatio was written to lift up man’s spirit to a higher state of consciousness and light a way forward to transformation through a highly symbolic collaborative work of art. Amanda Goodwin, a close friend of Delgado’s from the years she lived in Spain, collaborated with the dancers, actors, and acting director, Josh Williamson, to bring Antonio’s vision to life.

  • Characters: (dancers names underlined)
    • Protagonist/ HammerStella Scott – works unconsciously alongside the other masks until she accidentally drops her hammer
    • Tape MeasureKatherine Murphy – must quantify everything
    • SanderMichele McCauley – smoothes everything over
    • WrenchErin Hanada – stuck in a pendulum
    • SmithMichelle Froehlich – pounds on her anvil the axiom that nothing will move unless acted on with force
    • BroomVorece Batchman-Miller – sweeps away all conflict before it can be reconciled
    • OverseerSierra Bernhoft – out-of-control control freak boss
    • El LocoJoshua Williamson – shamanic character
    • ReasonBelle Wolf – cold, calculating queen of the masks

The Illuminatio Project was made possible through support and funding from:

  • Sustainable West Seattle
  • Nature Consortium/ Arts in Nature Festival
  • St. Paul’s Episcopal Church

For more information visit or contact Amanda Goodwin at


Seattle Sustainability Office Seeks Community Groups for Climate-Reducing Projects, Has $10K Grants Available

SeaCAPThe Seattle Office of Sustainability & Environment is awarding 4 to 6 contracts for community groups and neighborhood organizations for projects that engage the community in reducing climate impacts.

They are interested in supporting efforts that will help people reduce the climate impacts of personal and household choices in one of the categories listed below. Proposals accepted for projects with a budget of $10,000 or less.

  • In Your Home -There are plenty of ways beyond lightbulbs to save energy in your home.
  • Getting There – The trip can be half the fun if you opt out of a car for short trips!
  • Eating – A climate-friendly diet is actually a healthier diet for you and your family!
  • Buying Stuff – Most people agree that more stuff doesn’t mean more happiness. What makes you happy?

The Proposal Deadline is Monday, April 22, (Earth Day!), at 5:00 pm.

Successful proposals will meet the following criteria:

  • Project fosters climate-friendly purchasing, transportation or home energy choices;
  • Project identifies a clear target audience, objective, and outcomes;
  • Project decreases greenhouse gas emissions for an individual or a household;
  • Project incorporates a means to measure success.

Keys to a successful grant application are available by clicking here. Additional consideration given to projects that engage a historically under-represented population.

The Proposal Application Form is available at as a Word Document by clicking here.

A Printable Description of the Community Climate Grant Program is available by clicking here.

For questions contact Sara Wysocki, by phone at 206-233-7014 or by email at


Seattle Parks Board Opposes Coal Trains

Seattle Board of Park Commissioners opposes coal trains

The Seattle Board of Park Commissioners recently sent a letter to the Gateway Pacific Terminal regarding its opposition to the passage of coal trains through the Seattle area. The letter is to be included as part of the official public comments in the Environmental ImCoalTrain@BroadStpact Statement.

In the letter, the Board expressed concern about air, water, soil and noise pollution, train accidents, park access delays, derailment and reduced property values. The Board also pointed out the connection between burning coal and global climate change and its impact on Seattle Parks and Recreation, which is the steward of the City’s public parks and open spaces.

“We are concerned about the health of our parks, the people who use them and the wildlife that lives in them,” said Diana Kincaid, Park Board Chair. “We believe not enough has been done to fully understand the long-term health impacts of increasing the number of trains carrying coal through our City. Our hope is that impacts to the health of our parklands are fully understood before next steps are taken.”

The full letter can be read here.

The Seattle Board of Park Commissioners is a nine-member citizen board created by the City Charter. Four members are appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the City Council; four members are appointed by the City Council; and one member is a young adult appointed by the YMCA Get Engaged Program. Current members are Antoinette Angulo, John Barber, Megan Heahlke, Jourdan Keith, Chair Diana Kincaid, Brice Maryman, Caitlin McKee, Yazmin Mehdi and Barbara Wright.

The Board meets once a month, normally on the second Thursday, to advise the Parks and Recreation Superintendent, the Mayor, and the City Council on parks and recreation matters.

For more information about the Board’s position on the coal trains, please contact Park Board Chair Diana Kincaid at 206-781-2525 or email her at

Energy Blog: Comments on the Proposed Cherry Point Coal Terminal

By Andy Silber

These are the comments I’m sending to the Environmental Impact Statement Scoping process ( about the proposed coal export terminal at Cherry Point. I strongly believe that stopping coal exports through Washington State is our most important environmental struggle.  

I believe strongly that the scope of the EIS for the Cherry Point Coal Terminal needs to include all environmental and health impacts that will be the result of building this facility. The reason is simple; this permit process is the only mechanism for most of the social costs of this activity to be considered by the public:

If not you, who?

If not now, when?


Let me propose a Reductio ad absurdum. Let’s say the budget negotiations in DC break down, and someone in the Department of Energy has an idea that saves the federal government billions of dollars, plus we make billions of dollars by selling waste, nuclear waste. The plan is to stop treating nuclear waste at the Hanford Reservation and pour it into train cars, ship down the Columbia Gorge and then head north through Tacoma and Seattle to a state-of-the-art shipping terminal at Cherry Point. There the waste will be carefully loaded into ships. These ships will ply the waters of the Salish Sea and the Pacific Ocean, heading to North Korea. What the Koreans do with this plutonium-rich waste is not our concern, since they’re willing to pay good money for it. There’s a pretty good chance they’ll make a nuclear bomb, but is that more important than the dozens of good jobs created building the terminal? Then maybe they’ll sell this bomb to Iran, but that’s not our fault. This scenario assumes that the federal government has completely failed in its responsibilities to protect our health and welfare.  I think we can all agree that any proposal to build a shipping terminal for nuclear waste would consider what is being shipped, the risks and impacts along the rail and sea routes and how that material would be used when it finally arrived at its destination, especially if no one else was asking those questions in a public forum.

In the case of the coal terminal, there will be tons of toxic coal dust flying off the trains in populated areas. The impacted cities have no authority over those trains, only you do. If you don’t protect these people, then our democratic process has broken down.  Our federal government and the worldwide community of nations have failed to create a structure to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. This forum is the only place for the climate impact of burning this coal to be asked and answered. If not you, no one; if not now, never.

The Cherry Point terminal will enable the burning of millions of tons of coal that currently isn’t being burnt. This will be the port’s most significant environmental impact. To have an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that doesn’t include this impact, would be like having a murder trial that discussed the defendant’s childhood and work life, but ignored the murder. Here are some questions and answers about why the climate impact must be considered in the EIS:

If this terminal isn’t built, might a terminal be built elsewhere and the coal burnt anyway? Maybe, but in Oregon, California and British Columbia there are people organized to fight coal exports for the same reason we’re fighting this one. Every coal export terminal should have to factor in the climate impact. Cherry Point is a good place to set that precedent.

Might the coal come from other countries anyway? Maybe, but since the US has the world’s largest coal reserves (22.6% of proven reserves), if we can keep that coal in the ground, it will have a significant impact on world prices of coal. Currently the US exports relatively little coal (we’re 4th behind Australia, Indonesia and Russia). By reducing supply, the price increases and demand shrinks. Already solar and wind are competitive with coal power. The last thing we want to do is reverse that trend.

Isn’t the EIS designed to look at local impacts? Then consider the local impacts of burning this coal in China or India. Consider how it will impact water resources as our winter snow becomes flooding rain. Consider how mercury and other pollution from faraway furnaces impacts our air quality. There are no other countries with large reserves of coal that aren’t significant exporters, so if we can keep ports off of the west coast of North America, this coal will likely stay in the ground and China and India will move even more quickly to alternatives like wind and solar.  China already has the world’s largest fleet of wind turbines. If this port isn’t built it is likely that the world’s consumption of coal will be lower.

Should the EIS consider the impact of this port in places outside of Washington State? For this question I’ll return to the Reductio ad absurdum: if an action in Washington State followed a predictable path to a nuclear bomb in North Korea that was sold to Iran and detonated in Tel Aviv, should we have stopped it? This port will raise sea levels worldwide, leading to dislocation and famine. We have responsibility for the impact of our actions, regardless of where they happen. I try and teach my son that he is responsible for his actions, regardless of what other people do. We can’t stop China from mining their coal to burn in their power plants. But we sure as hell can refuse to sell them more.


City Light Tips for Storm Season

Are You Ready For Storm Season?

At City Light, we’re ready for storm season! We have been busy trimming trees (six hundred miles in 2012) and working on our infrastructure to prepare for storm season. You can be ready too. Here are some easy ways to prepare:

Start by assembling an emergency preparedness kit

  • Include at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food and water
  • Have a working flashlight with batteries – or a hand-crank flashlight
  • Use a battery-powered or hand-crank portable radio
  • Have a manual can opener available
  • Up-date your first aid kit and include prescribed medications
  • Keep an extra pair of glasses, and
  • Be sure to remember pets – they will need food and water too

For more tips and ways to be ready, go to:

Five Quick Tips from City Light for Fall

  1. Save money and energy in the kitchen – try using a slow cooker instead of the stove. Many of your favorite autumn “comfort food” recipes can easily be adapted for the slow cooker.
  2.  If you have a wood-burning fireplace, shut the flue when not in use – an open flue is like an open window. Plus, it will help keep sooty smells from getting in the house on gusty days. Just make sure any fire you had burning is completely out before closing the flue!
  3. To report outages, give us a call at 206-684-3000, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. To see what parts of town are out, check our outage map. If you see a downed wire, always assume that it is energized, and keep yourselves and others well away from it. Call 911 at your first opportunity.
  4.  If bad weather hits, remember to check on your neighbors – especially the elderly, or those who might have language barriers.
  5.  Shorter days mean more streetlight repairs. To report a malfunctioning streetlight, give us a call at (206) 684-7056, or visit our on-line streetlight trouble report form. You can even do it from our mobile app!

Proposed Cherry Point Coal Terminal Hearing @ Convention Center Thursday

If you are interested in the impact of multiple coal trains traveling through Western Washington to access proposed coal rail-to-ship terminals in the Bellingham or Longview areas, consider attending a hearing on the proposed Cherry Point Coal Export Terminal on Thursday, December 13, from  4:00 to 7:00 pm at the  State Convention Center, Ballroom 6F, 800 Convention Place, Seattle.
Sign up for the Seattle hearing on Facebook or simply arrive early on December 13 if you wish to make a formal comment.

You can also comment by letter or online here:

Here are the details:

  • Who: Friends, Family, Neighbors, the Sierra Club and, anyone interested in the coal terminal.
  • What: Coal Exports Public Hearing
  • When: Thursday, December 13: Rally is at 2:00 p.m. at Freeway Park and the hearing is from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm
  • Where: Washington State Convention Center, Ballroom 6F, 800 Convention Place, downtown Seattle access from Freeway Park or from Pike St. between 7th & 8th Avenues.

NOTE: Hearing registration starts at 3:00 p.m. If you want to speak be there early!

For more information contact Robin Everett at

Help Shape Seattle City Light’s Renewable Energy Future: Join Community Forum

Did you know that Seattle City Light generates the cleanest, lowest cost energy in the urban U.S?More than 90% of the electricity you receive comes from renewable power sources, most of which is hydropower. While our hydro electricity is renewable and low cost, it is not infinite. Seattle City Light wants to stay ahead of the curve – and would like your input on the next generation of green power and other energy-related programs. City Light wants to know what you think about renewable, clean sources of energy, using energy wisely, and what they can do together to support them in our community.City Light invites you to help shape our collective energy future. Join the Seattle City Light Community Energy Forum at: Community Energy Forum is a survey series that will help City Light understand the types of voluntary renewable power and energy-saving programs that are important to you. As a Forum member, you’ll receive one or two emails per month inviting you to take a brief, five-minute survey. To thank you for sharing your opinions and ideas, each month you’ll be entered into a sweepstakes to win a $50 Amazon gift certificate.

Enroll today at For more information, read Seattle City Light’s FAQ here

SWS & West Seattle Nursery Present GreenLife at the West Seattle Summer Fest

Sustainable West Seattle and the West Seattle Nursery once again are pleased to sponsor and present this year’s GreenLife exposition as part of the three-day-long West Seattle Summer Fest, Friday, July 13, Saturday July 14, and Sunday, July 15, in the West Seattle Junction.  The GreenLife area is at the south end of Summer Fest’s California Avenue line, near SW Edmunds Street in the Tech Services parking lot.

Come visit us during Summer Fest.  We have lots of information and there will be booths from a wide range of local green and sustainable businesses and organizations.

This year, as we did last year, we have a full lineup of presentations and demonstrations which will begin Friday at 1:00 pm.  The presentations continue  every hour on the hour for all three Festival days with the last presentation on Sunday at 4:45 pm.

The presentations will take place on a stage adjacent to the West Seattle Nursery/Sustainable West Seattle tent in the middle of the GreenLife area.  We’ll be very hard to miss.  Plus, we’re providing space for our partners CoolMom, Backyard Habitats, Whale Trail, Community Orchard, and Longfellow Creek Watershed.

Solar Epiphany is sponsoring the presentation/demonstration stage, which also features 15-minute Solar Power updates at the end of each hour’s presentation.

The hourly presentations include everything from how to remake your home in a sustainable manner, how to use a rain garden and harvest and preserve home-grown fruits and vegetables, how to use the Sun’s thermal energy to heat your home and water, how to prevent storm water runoff from getting into Puget Sound, what are Greenways and how can you bike safely, a special presentation by Occupy West Seattle on whether our current economy is sustainable, and a cart of bicycles to try out from Bikeworks, and much more.

The demonstration and presentation schedule is linked below:

West Seattle Summer Fest GreenLife Demo Sked 2012 (a downloadable PDF of the schedule)

The schedule for each day is listed in our Calendar section and also linked below:

A special feature of this year’s GreenLife will be the Mobile Tool Library, which will be on display during the Festival and which will begin serving West Seattle immediately following this year’s festival.  Organizations and work parties interested in using the Mobile Tool Library later in July should contact Micah Summers or Patrick Dunn at the Tool Library.

If you are interested in volunteering at GreenLife, please sign up using our online sign-up sheet.  We hope to see you there!

West Seattle Solar Project Offers Photo-voltaic Bulk Purchasing and Educational Workshops

Just in time for the spring sunshine! The West Seattle Solar Project ( is officially open for registration. The West Seattle Solar Project (WSSP) helps residents and businesses save time and money in the process of going solar through bulk purchasing and educational workshops.

If you live in West Seattle and have been thinking about solar for your home or business, this is the project you have been waiting for!  If you live in one of these zip codes, you are eligible:

  • 98106, 98116, 98126, 98136, 98146

Register on the project website to learn about upcoming workshops, sign up for a solar site evaluation, and get involved. Most importantly, spread the word about this opportunity to your friends and neighbors!

The next workshop is Saturday, May 26th.

  • Saturday, May 26th, 2:30 pm -4:00 pm, Seattle Public Library, High Point Branch, 3411 SW Raymond St.
  • Sunday, June 24th, 1:30 pm – 3:00 pm, Seattle Public Library, West Seattle Branch, 2306 42nd Ave. SW

WSSP is the first solar campaign of The Cascadia Solar Project, whose mission is to jumpstart and dramatically increase the number of photovoltaic installations around the Puget Sound, especially in underrepresented neighborhoods. The project uses Made-In-Washington modules and inverters, and all participants will receive the same low $/watt price. The only major variables will be system size and whether or not the customer wants financing.

Vashon-based Artisan Electric Inc. will be the project manager for the campaign, and is currently collaborating with community groups in West Seattle to get the word out. Additional partners include Silicon Energy, a Marysville-based solar module and inverter manufacturer, and Puget Sound Cooperative Credit Union (PSCCU), a local credit union that provides solar financing in the Puget Sound region.

For more information on The West Seattle Solar Project, contact Evan Leonard, Project Manager, by email at, or by phone at 206-412-4840.