Advocacy Update – July 2019

This month in state and local advocacy: ADU legislation is signed by Mayor Durkan, Seattle's Bicycle Advisory Board seeks members, an architect joins the State House of Representatives and the state's energy code updates are up for review.


AIA National Issues Report on Building Codes and Climate Change

AIA National’s Blue Ribbon Panel for Codes and Standards issued a report outlining AIA’s vision for the adoption and application of building codes as design tools in a resource-constrained future. The publication, Disruption, Evolution and Change: AIA’s Vision for the Future of Design and Construction, details an aspirational path forward for the profession’s commitment to meeting 2030 climate objectives. The four focus areas of the report – energy, health/safety, welfare and transparency – help to frame discussions and partnerships to advance environmentally responsible design and construction. As part of the report, AIA National issued the following statement of values related to building codes and climate change:

We stand for protecting communities from the impact of climate change. Global warming and man-made hazards pose an increasing threat to the safety of the public and the vitality of our nation. Rising sea levels and devastating natural disasters result in unacceptable losses of life and property. Resilient and adaptable buildings are a community’s first line of defense against disasters and changing conditions of life and property. That is why we advocate for robust building codes and policies that make our communities more resilient.


Architect Named as New Member of the State House

Senator Guy Palumbo (D) resigned last month from his State Senate seat representing the 1st legislative district (Bothell, Maltby). After Rep. Derek Stanford (D) from the same district was appointed to the open senate seat by the King and Snohomish County Councils, Stanford’s House seat was allotted to Bothell Deputy Mayor Davina Duerr. She will hold the seat through the 2020 elections (and will likely run for reelection then). Duerr has a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Syracuse University and is a senior interior architect at Ware Malcomb in Bellevue. She is the first architect member of the state legislature in recent years. The publication Washington State Wire published a Q&A with Rep. Duerr here. In it, she talks about the value architects bring to public policy:

Well, I am an architect by education and career… And I would say that definitely plays into my qualifications because architects are problem-solvers. Every design project is a puzzle to solve and I think that is very similar to the role of a legislator. You see problems and you try to fix them.

Energy Code Updates

Washington’s State Building Code Council (SBCC) is in the process of reviewing proposed amendments to the 2018 commercial and residential codes as approved by the Council’s Energy Code Technical Advisory Group.

Twenty-four proposals have been accepted by both the SBCC’s Energy Code Technical Advisory Group and the full Council to be moved forward to public comment. The proposed residential energy code amendments are open for public comment through Sept. 27, 2019. The SBCC will  take public comments in person at hearings in Spokane (Sept. 13) and Olympia (Sept. 27). More info, and information about each proposal, is available here.

The SBCC will vote on the proposed changes to the 2018 commercial energy code on July 26. Comments on the proposed changes will be accepted through July 26. More info, including how to comment, is available here.

The anticipated effective date for the 2018 commercial and residential code updates is July 1, 2020.

Residential Architect Sought to Serve on State Building Code Council’s Building Code Technical Advisory Group

AIA Washington Council is seeking an architect willing to serve on the SBCC’s Building Code Technical Advisory Group (TAG), which makes recommendations to the Council on the International Building Code and the International Existing Building Code. The TAG has an open seat in the category of Home Designer, so we are looking for someone who primarily does residential work. The TAG reviews new model codes against the previous version, assesses statewide amendment proposals and makes recommendations for the SBCC’s consideration. Members of a TAG are generally asked to serve for a full code cycle, but they may serve longer if desired. For more information, contact Kirsten.


Seattle Enacts ADU Legislation

The Seattle City Council voted unanimously to allow the construction of more and larger accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in all neighborhoods while removing requirements that property owners live on site and provide off-street parking. Two ADUs will now be allowed on each lot, either two attached ADUs or one attached ADU and one detached ADU. The legislation will also cap the size of any newly constructed house, whether it has an ADU or not, to 2,500 square feet or a floor-area-ratio (FAR) of 0.5, whichever is greater. The square footage of any ADUs are not counted in the FAR limit. Two amendments were approved prior to final passage: one grants an additional 35 square feet of floor space for bicycle storage and the second directs the city to study the use of ADUs as short-term rentals and states the Council’s intent to restrict such use if it is “excessive.” An amendment by Councilmember Lisa Herbold to require one year of property ownership before a second ADU could be built was defeated 7-1. Mayor Durkan signed the legislation on July 9, and it will take effect on August 8 with the exception of the FAR limits for single family homes, which will not go into effect until March 1, 2020. AIA Seattle’s Housing Task Force supported this legislation with technical comments, meetings with legislators and staff, an ADU tour and more. Special thank yous to Matt Hutchins AIA, Sheri Newbold AIA and Karen DeLucas AIA for your advocacy.

Join Seattle’s Transit Advisory Board

Seattle’s Transit Advisory Board is accepting applications for new members to help advise Seattle on challenges and opportunities related to transit and public transportation. The Board advises the Mayor and City Council on planning, project development and policies and makes recommendations to all city departments. Applications are due by August 5. More info here.

Join Seattle’s Bicycle Advisory Board

The City of Seattle’s Bicycle Advisory Board is seeking members for 2-year appointed terms. Board members meet monthly to advise the Mayor and the City Council, participate in planning and project development, evaluate policies and make recommendations to city departments, including the Seattle Department of Transportation. More details here. To apply, send a resume and cover letter via email to

The 20 by 2020 Building Challenge

AIA Seattle partner organizations working on climate issues, including Shift Zero, have established the 20 by 2020 Building Challenge to provide “proof of concept” evidence that ambitious energy targets and science-based design and modeling can propel our shift to a carbon-sustainable future. Buildings that are certified as zero energy by Passive House, Built Green or ILFI are eligible to participate in the Challenge. More info here, including the deeply energy efficient projects already signed up and designed by firms including Nicholson Kovalchick (NK) Architects, Perkins + Will, First Lamp Architecture, Weber Thompson and Mithun.

Seattle City Council Elections

Washington’s Primary Election ballots must be postmarked by August 6, 2019. In Seattle, seven of the nine city council seats are up for election, and five of those seats have retiring incumbents.

The following sites offer information on the council candidates and some offer endorsements. Some sites do not include all candidates for each seat.

Seattle Channel video voters’ guide
The Urbanist endorsements
Seattle Times candidate info
Seattle Times endorsements
Seattle Transit Blog endorsements
Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce endorsements
Sierra Club Seattle endorsements
Downtown Seattle Association Candidate Scorecard
MLK Labor Council endorsements
Seattle Transit Riders’ Union endorsements
The Stranger endorsements

If you have additional resources to add to this list, please let Kirsten know.

Still have your Democracy Vouchers? Information on how to use them may be found here.


Vanguard Conference for Rising Urban Leaders  Sept. 30 – Oct. 3, Sacramento
The Vanguard Conference is a free event for rising urban leaders run by Next City. Potential attendees must apply for one of 40 slots. The conference welcomes entrepreneurs, community developers, activists, artists, designers, urban planners and sustainability experts – anyone committed to improving cities – and offers an opportunity to meet rising urban leaders working to improve cities across sectors. AIA Seattle will pay the travel costs for any member who applies and is accepted. Note that the application deadline date is very soon – July 22 – and there is a $35 fee for applying.

Young Professionals in Transportation – Seattle
YPT Seattle connects transportation professionals working in sectors across the city with an emphasis on bringing new transportation professionals to the table. YPT has grown into a national organization that supports the next generation of transportation professionals through regular leadership seminars, networking happy hours and business meetings. YPT Seattle welcomes transportation engineers, urban planners, transportation energy/infrastructure professionals, port/maritime/ferry professions and civil engineering professionals in the Greater Seattle area. More info here.


AIA Seattle Task Force Meetings

AIA Seattle members are invited to attend these policy-focused meetings, which occur monthly:

  • Transportation Task Force Monthly Meeting: Aug. 13, 5:30-6:30 pm @ CFAD
  •  Housing Task Force Monthly Meeting: Aug. 8, noon-1:15 pm @ CFAD

Let Kirsten know if you’d like to be added to the email list for either task force.

Other Events

Getting to Zero Forum  Oct. 10-11, Oakland
A solutions-focused event dedicated to zero energy and zero carbon buildings. Through AIA’s membership in Shift Zero, AIA members can receive a 10% discount on the Full Forum pass using the code GTZ19SZ10.

Built Green Conference  Sept. 12, Lynnwood
Cutting-edge information on green building and sustainability through an array of immersive topics related to green building. Info here.

For more information on these or any other topics, please contact:

Kirsten Smith
Manager of Policy and Advocacy
AIA Washington Council & AIA Seattle