Advocacy Update – January 2022

This month in state and local advocacy: the 2021 state commercial energy code opens for comments; AIA|WA navigates the state legislative session; and AIA Seattle plans major efforts on the Seattle Comp Plan Update and Design Review.


State Building Code Council Releases 2021 Commercial Energy Code
The 2021 commercial energy code amendments have been released by the State Building Code Council; you can view the proposed rule here. Public comments can be emailed to through March 11. The SBCC will also have public hearings on the amendments on Feb. 25 and March 11. AIA is paying close attention to new requirements for the use of efficient electric heat pumps for space and water heating in new commercial and large multifamily buildings. We encourage architects and firms who support these amendments to weigh in with the Council in one of the following ways:

  • Submit email comments by March 11 – we’ll send more info on this soon
  • Provide comments to the SBCC at its Feb. 25 or March 11 meetings (more info coming)
  • Sign on to a building industry letter in support of the heat pump provisions (as an individual or a firm)
  • Share this letter with others in the AEC industry!

State Legislative Session Update
The state legislative session kicked off last week and things are already moving quickly. Look to AIA|WA for a full recap. Here is a review of key AIA bills that have been heard in committee during the first two weeks of session:


  • HB 1770/SB 5669 – Requires the State Building Code Council to develop a residential energy reach code that local governments can choose to adopt instead of baseline state code.
  • SB 5722/HB 1774 – Extends the state’s building performance standard to smaller buildings.
  • *HB 1280 – Requires an analysis of the use of all-electrification systems as part of the pre-design work for large state buildings.
  • *HB 1099 – Adds a climate element to the state’s Growth Management Act requirements.


  • HB 1782/SB 5670 – Requires additional middle housing near transit and in areas traditionally dedicated to single-family detached housing.
  • HB 1880 – Creates a housing benefit districts pilot program to plan and fund land acquisition for affordable housing near major transit stops.
  • ADU legislation: HB 1660 (prohibits owner occupancy requirements); HB 1337 (local gov’t requirements related to ADUs); HB 1711 (incentives for building ADUs).
  • SB 5818 – Limits SEPA and GMA appeals related to affordable housing projects


  • HB 1592 – Provides for temporary licenses for military spouses

*These bills passed the House last year but must pass the House again to move on. They are both awaiting a vote on the House floor. All other bills are new (or have a new version) in 2022 and were heard in committee in the last two weeks. The next step is to be voted on in committee.

For questions about any of these bills or other legislation under consideration, contact Kirsten.

How you can participate

  • You can contact your three legislators at any time about legislation or a policy issue. You can find their emails here (click on the link under “Rosters”). If you need to look up who your legislators are, you can do so with your home address here.
  • You can register your position on bills, sign up to testify at a committee hearing, or offer written comments on a bill. Contact Kirsten for help.

Thank you to the AIA Seattle members who have testified “in” Olympia thus far this session!

  • Christopher Patano AIA – building performance standard
  • Sadie Carlson Assoc. AIA – targeted electrification
  • Matt Hutchins AIA – missing middle housing
  • Duane Jonlin FAIA – energy codes
  • Grace Kim FAIA – housing benefit districts


AIA’s 2022 Policy Projects: Comprehensive Plan & Design Review
In 2022 we’ll be working on two major public policy efforts: the Seattle Comprehensive Plan and ongoing work to make Seattle’s Design Review process more effective for everyone. We’d like your input and participation! Specific opportunities are below, but please reach out to Kirsten if you have comments at any time.

Comprehensive Plan
Seattle’s update of its Major Comprehensive Plan (2022-24) is arguably one of the most critical points in the city’s history. Required by the state to plan for how the city will accommodate growth over the next two decades, the Comp Plan will address crucial questions around how we distribute opportunity, what our neighborhoods should look like, and what changes we need to make to create a more sustainable and resilient city.

We need interested members to help AIA creatively respond to the questions inherent in this process. How can we harness architects’ skills and experience to inform questions and ideas about how Seattle will grow? How can we engage the public in design thinking around housing, complete neighborhoods, access, and more? And how can we use our understanding of land use code to promote equitable opportunity and prevent displacement? We’re looking to tackle these questions and more as we engage in discussion, design experimentation, and deep thinking about Seattle’s future.

You can be part of this effort by joining our Comp Plan Work Group, which kicks off in February. Or, you can sign up to receive updates about our efforts so that you can plug in wherever you like. If you’d like to receive info on the Work Group, or just be added to our email distribution list, you can sign up here.

Design Review
We’re looking for architects’ feedback on Seattle’s Design Review process and how it might be improved to achieve the design and community objectives it was intended to accomplish.

We’ll be organizing a session in February for architects and designers to discuss Design Review, including what’s working and what’s not; what changes you would like to see; and what you would like Design Review to achieve – as applicants, board members, and community participants.  We’ll also distribute a survey for architects and designers who prefer to participate in writing. We don’t have a date yet, but we’d love to know if you’re interested. You can add your name to our list here and we’ll send you more info soon. Non-member architects are welcome.

We’d love to hear from you! To comment or for more information on these or any other topics, please contact:

Kirsten Smith
Manager of Policy & Advocacy
AIA Seattle & AIA Washington Council
206-708-3199 |