Advocacy Update – November 2019

This month in state and local advocacy: AIA works on the state's implementation process for the new energy performance standard for commercial buildings; the Seattle City Council closes out the budget and other last minute items prior to the new council taking office in January; AIA Washington Council's state legislative agenda is set in advance of the 2020 session's January kick-off; and more!


ICC Vote on AIA’s Zero Code Renewable Energy Appendix
In coordination with Architecture 2030, AIA National submitted a Zero Code Renewable Energy Appendix to become part of the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). The Appendix is optional for jurisdictions to adopt, requires buildings to achieve zero-net-carbon operations annually, and is a critical tool for cities to meet their greenhouse gas emissions reduction commitments. While Washington already has a stronger energy code than what the Appendix provides, the Zero Code language is aimed at jurisdictions that do not have as much experience with energy codes and which could benefit from sample language and policy guidance.

City and state code and government officials who are ICC voting members have an opportunity to vote on the Appendix during online voting Nov. 18 – Dec. 5. AIA is asking its members who are ICC voting members to vote to add the Appendix to the IECC (Proposal CE264-19). AIA members are also asked to contact their state and local government energy, sustainability, and code officials to ask them to vote for approval of the Appendix.


2020 Legislative Agenda
AIA Washington Council held its annual Advocacy Summit on Oct. 24 to finalize AIA’s state legislative agenda for the 2020 legislative session. You may review the agenda here. We encourage members to attend AIA|WA’s Capitol Connections day in Olympia on Jan. 23. Capitol Connections brings together architects from across the state to learn about AIA|WA’s legislative agenda, meet with their legislators and see how the state legislature operates. More info is available here.

Commercial Buildings Energy Performance Standard
AIA architects are participating in the WA Department of Commerce’s rulemaking process for HB 1257 (passed in 2019) to create a state energy performance standard for commercial buildings. AIA’s objective is to provide technical expertise to help ensure that the legislation’s goals related to carbon reduction are actually achieved by the program developed by Commerce. The process is expected to last through the summer or fall of 2020.

Impact of I-976
It remains unclear how local governments and the state will be immediately impacted by the passage of I-976, which will reduce revenues for state, local, and regional transportation projects across the state. A lawsuit was filed in King County Superior Court by Seattle, King County, and seven other entities to block the initiative based on claims that it violates the state’s one subject rule and it misled voters on the true impacts of the measure. A separate legal action seeks a court injunction which would prevent the initiative from taking effect prior to a decision on the initial lawsuit. In Seattle, the 2020 budget process is continuing without major changes related to transportation. At the state level, the 2020 transportation budget was largely set by the 2019 legislative session; significant changes as a result of I-976 are not expected there until 2021. However, there will likely be discussions around revenue measures in Olympia in 2020. Immediately following the election, Gov. Jay Inslee issued an order halting work on all state transportation projects not yet begun. At the state level, AIA|WA will advocate for a strong, alternative funding source for transit in particular.


Seattle City Council Closes Out 2019
The Seattle City Council has been working through the city’s 2020 budget, which must be adopted by Dec. 2 (the final Council votes are expected on Nov. 25). After that, the “lame duck” council will have the rest of the month to accomplish any last-minute agenda items. One note: Alex Pedersen, who was elected to the Council’s 4th District seat, will take office as soon as King County certifies the election (the last day to do so is Nov. 26). He will replace Abel Pacheco, who was appointed by the Council in April to fill the seat vacated by Rob Johnson. The other new councilmembers will be sworn in on January 6.

During budget deliberations, AIA Seattle asked councilmembers to support a budget proviso request by Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda that would require the city to produce an Environmental Impact Statement to study land use in Seattle. The EIS would explore additional housing capacity and diversity—including duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes, and row homes—in areas currently zoned exclusively for single-family houses as well as strategies to minimize displacement of low-income residents and communities of color. This budget item remains alive as of this writing.

Natural Gas Ban for New Buildings
A group of AIA Seattle members met with Councilmember Mike O’Brien and a larger group of stakeholders to discuss the electrification of buildings and their work on successful projects that were built without gas. O’Brien is sponsoring legislation to ban gas hookups in new buildings, but the proposal has received significant pushback from labor groups. It is unlikely to pass in the time remaining and, given O’Brien’s retirement, it will need to find a new champion in 2020.

Pre-Approved DADUs
AIA Seattle’s Housing Task Force is completing work on a letter to Mayor Durkan, OPCD, and SDCI regarding the city’s plan for pre-approved DADUs. While the Task Force recognizes that the plan, still under development, is one of Durkan’s housing priorities, members have identified concerns about both the likelihood that the program will result in more DADUs in the city and how the city will structure its relationship with architects. AIA’s letter will identify desired improvements to the program to address both sets of concerns.

AIA Housing Policy Statement
AIA Seattle’s Housing Task Force and Public Policy Board continue to develop AIA’s Housing Policy Statement with input from members. The statement will come before the Board for final approval in December. You are invited to comment on the current draft, which you can download here.


Seattle Design Commission Seeks Urban Designer
The Seattle Design Commission is recruiting for an urban designer to serve a two-year term beginning in March 2020. CVs and letters of interest are due by December 2. Click here for more info on how to be considered. The Seattle Design Commission advises the Mayor, Council, and city officials on design excellence in city-funded capital improvement projects, projects in the right-of-way, and projects constructed with city funds.

Passive House Northwest has issued a call for papers/presentations for its Annual Conference, which takes place March 12-14, 2020 in Seattle. Five presentation formats are available. Submissions are due by Nov. 25.


AIA Seattle Committee Meetings
AIA Seattle members and others are invited to attend these policy-focused committee meetings, which occur monthly:

Transportation Task Force Monthly Meeting: Dec. 10, 5:30-6:30 @ CFAD
This meeting will feature Lid I-5 co-chairs Scott Bonjukian and John Feit, who will talk about the City’s feasibility study for lidding the area between Denny Way and Madison Street. They’ll also discuss strategy and next steps and answer your questions.

Housing Task Force Monthly Meeting: Dec. 12, noon-1:15 pm @ CFAD

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


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
206-957-1926 |