By Dan Nolte, City of Seattle
Seattle is called the "Emerald City" for a reason. Seattleites are some of the greenest-thinking city dwellers in the nation, and its local government's actions reflect those environmentally-focused values.
As you commute through Seattle for this November's NLC Congress of Cities, you'll spot electric vehicle charging stations on both private and public property, see the City's motor pool filled with Prius and Nissan Leaf vehicles, and notice parking strips used for makeshift urban agriculture.
"Sustainability" has become more than just a buzzword in city governance. It's come to define a swath of innovative city programs and policies that preserve natural resources, and oftentimes save money.
Seattle has banned plastic shopping bags and Styrofoam food containers, created a citywide composting program, and provides dozens of community gardens called "P-Patches." Community Power Works offers free home audits to measure and improve energy efficiency. In Seattle, you'll have the opportunity to speak directly with public officials to learn how they developed public support for seemingly-controversial (and now successful) proposals.
For more in-depth, hands-on experiences, Seattle is hosting a variety of green-themed mobile workshops, including:
City of Seattle's Zero Waste Strategy: Tour of Republic Services Recycling Facility
In 2007, Seattle passed a Zero Waste Strategy to increase recycling and reduce trash. Tour a just-opened state-of-the-art recycling facility, located in the heart of Seattle's SoDo neighborhood. Hear from public- and private-sector representatives about their partnership to meet the goals of the Zero Waste Strategy, and how communities can reduce waste and save citizens money. Using leading-edge technology, the facility processes 750 tons of material per day, nearly all of which goes back to domestic and international markets within days of processing. This tour is brought to you by Republic Services.
LED Street Lighting Conversion: Saving Your Community Money, While Improving Public Safety
See firsthand how LED street lighting can transform a streetscape. Seattle is in the midst of converting streetlights to LEDs, which both save money and improve public safety in neighborhoods. Learn how the Municipal Solid-State Street Lighting Consortium can help your community convert to LEDs. Visit Seattle's Lighting Design Lab to look at lighting options and learn how to collaborate with local utilities, neighborhoods, law enforcement and other entities to transform neighborhoods through better street lighting. To date, the LED conversion program has saved the City of Seattle millions of dollars in energy and maintenance costs.
The Living Building Challenge: What Your City Can Learn from the Greenest Commercial Building in the World
Tour the Bullitt Center, the Greenest Commercial Building in the World, and learn how your community can implement strategies to increase your city's green building footprint and other sustainable development practices. Learn about green building incentives, including priority green permitting, zoning, and the living building challenge.
Seattle recently adopted a Climate Action Plan, which provides tools and a path forward to achieve Carbon Neutrality by 2050. NLC Congress of Cities is your opportunity to learn what's worked, what hasn't, and what ideas you can bring back home to make your city a greener community.