Buildings & Energy

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Green, sustainable building is the practice of creating and using healthier and more resource-efficient models of construction, renovation, operation, maintenance, and demolition. Bellevue is proud to provide strong support for green buildings and energy sources.

Why Build Green?

Green buildings offer a wealth of environmental, economic, and social benefits, like enhancing and protecting biodiversity and ecosystems, reducing waste streams, reducing operating costs, improving occupant productivity, enhancing occupant comfort and health, and minimizing strain on local infrastructure.

Green Building in Bellevue

The City of Bellevue currently has over 100 certified green buildings, including many downtown high rises, schools, hotels, shops and city facilities. 

Green Building Incentives

The City of Bellevue offers fee reductions and increased flexibility for certified green buildings such as LEED, Built Green, Living Building, and Passive House.

Most incentives apply citywide, with additional incentives available in the Downtown and BelRed subareas. Find out more on this Development Services page.

Puget Sound Energy also offers incentives for energy efficient new construction in both commercial and residential buildings.

The City of Bellevue’s energy use is getting cleaner and greener. The City of Bellevue announced on April 25, 2017 that it will purchase green power for City facilities through Puget Sound Energy’s (PSE) “Green Direct” program. The initiative allows local governments and major commercial customers to reduce their carbon footprint by purchasing energy directly from clean, renewable sources.

Bellevue plans to purchase 10.3 million kilowatt hours, or half of its total energy usage, starting in 2019. The program will reduce overall municipal emissions by approximately 30 percent. Through this program, PSE plans to build a new wind project in Western Washington, which could produce enough renewable energy to power nearly 30,000 homes.

In addition to Bellevue, several government agencies have signed up for the program to cover all or part of their operations including King County, Sound Transit, and the cities of Anacortes, Snoqualmie and Mercer Island. Western Washington University has also signed up, along with major private customers which include Target, Starbucks and REI.

Puget Sound Energy can also assist residential customers in purchasing green power for their homes.

The City's Resource Conservation Manager (RCM) program is reducing energy, water use, and solid waste generation in city operations, thus cutting costs, consumption of natural resources and greenhouse gas emissions. The RCM program is funded in part through grants from Puget Sound Energy since 2009.

Energy Savings

To date, yearly savings are about $372,000 compared to the baseline year of 2009.

The current baseline for major city facilities is 11,763,648 kWh and 254,588 therms. The RCM program aims to save 588,182 kWh and 12,729 therms in both 2018 and 2019, or an energy savings of about 5%.

Energy conservation projects the city has implemented thus far include:

  • Lighting efficiency and control upgrades
  • Demand-based ventilation strategies for building automation systems
  • Building commissioning
  • Scheduling mechanical equipment to better match occupancy
  • Adjusting domestic hot water temperatures to 120 degrees
  • Installing variable frequency drives on pumps and motors
  • Reducing unnecessary plug loads
  • Replacing old boilers with highly efficient ones
  • Installing low-flow water fixtures such as showerheads and aerators
  • Fixing failed equipment and sensors
  • Educating employees about energy efficiency

In November of 2016, the City of Bellevue passed Resolution 9186 authorizing annual benchmarking and reporting of energy use in select municipal facilities over 5,000 square feet. Energy benchmarking is the process of measuring and tracking a building’s energy use over time. Bellevue is using EPA’s free online tool called Portfolio Manager to benchmark it’s buildings.

Building square footage and total annual energy use are used to calculate the Energy Use Intensity (EUI) for a given property. You can think of the EUI as a miles per gallon for your building – a lower EUI means the building is performing more efficiently, while a higher EUI may mean there are opportunities for improvement. It is also important to note that some facilities may have a high EUI as a result of being a more energy intensive property use, like a pool or a data center.

Resolution 9186 allows for this information on select municipal facilities to be available to the public.

Ever thought about installing solar panels on your roof? Concerned about the complexity of the permit process? Wondering where to go for help?

Check out our solar potential website to learn about the solar potential in different neighborhoods in Bellevue and for your house.

Information about our streamlined permitting process for installing solar on your house, is available in Development Services. Bellevue Development Services staff familiar with solar installations are available to help.

As part of a federal Department of Energy grant, Bellevue and other grant partners (Seattle, Edmonds and Ellensburg) have developed a streamlined process for the permitting of small-scale solar installations for single-family residential customers, and have been recognized by the State of Washington as part of the Evergreen State Solar Partnership.

Will you accept the Bellevue Green Power Challenge and join your neighbors? For as little as $4 more per month for residential customers, you can offset a portion of your electricity footprint (or $10-12 to offset 100 percent of the average home's usage). This money allows PSE to buy clean energy on your behalf from local wind, biogas and solar companies.

During 2015, Bellevue participated in the Green Power Challenge with PSE and helped sign up 543 Bellevue residents for Green Power. The City exceed its original goal of 250 net new customers, and earned $50,000 toward a solar array on the Crossroads Community Center.

Solarize Bellevue was a neighborhood solar purchasing program that offers the best value for homeowners and businesses for headache-free solar installations on their homes, businesses, or multifamily units. This is achieved by pooling local individuals who are interested in pursuing solar power for their residences, and making a collective “bulk buy.” This type of program has been widely successful across the country, having shown savings of 10 percent or more on average when compared to acquiring solar systems independently.

Solarize Bellevue ran two campaigns in 2014 and 2015, with several public workshops, which resulted in the installation of a total of 88 new solar arrays, totaling 559 kWh.

In the second Solarize campaign, Bellevue achieved its goal of reaching 50 installations, and received $50,000 toward the installation of a solar array at the Crossroads Community Center.

In 2015 and 2016, Bellevue competed in the Georgetown University Energy Prize — a national competition that challenged small and medium-sized communities to develop and implement creative, sustainable and replicable strategies to save energy. Bellevue came in 10th place in the competition through its work in reducing energy use, engaging residents, and forming partnerships. To learn more about our successes in the competition, look at our Accomplishments Summary.

To continue our efforts in conserving energy, you can reduce your energy bills and save energy by taking the following simple steps at home:

  • Turn off and unplug electronics when you leave the house;
  • Turn on lights only in rooms you are in;
  • Wash clothes in cold water;
  • Shower for five to seven minutes with a high-efficiency shower head;
  • Turn down your thermostat to 65 degrees Fahrenheit at bedtime; and
  • Call Puget Sound Energy to schedule a Home Energy Assessment.

Funding and resources to support Bellevue's participation in the Georgetown University Energy Prize was provided by the King Conservation District Member Jurisdiction Grant Program and Puget Sound Energy.

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