Advocacy Update – October 2020

This month in local and state advocacy: VOTE VOTE VOTE! Also: Washington's State Energy Strategy; sign up for AIA Seattle's Climate Advocacy Week; King County increases the sales tax to raise money for homeless housing; residential electrification tips; AIA Washington Council's advocacy training; and more!



Don’t forget to submit your ballot by Nov. 3. If you are not registered, the deadline is Oct. 26 for mail or online registrations, but you can register to vote up to Nov. 3 if you show up in person at your county elections office. Ballots must be postmarked or placed in a drop box by Nov. 3. Statewide drop box locations are here; King County’s drop box locations are here. Voters’ guides: King County’s is here; check your county’s elections office webpage for other counties. Finally, remember that you can verify that your ballot was received and accepted. King County’s verification page is here; check your county’s elections office webpage for other counties. Ballots will be mailed starting on Oct. 14.


State Energy Strategy Draft Due Oct. 30
Washington is developing a 2021 State Energy Strategy to support the state’s goals related to climate. The call for an updated state energy strategy was part of 2019 legislation establishing a new clean electricity standard for Washington, the Clean Energy Transformation Act (SB 5116). The State Energy Strategy is a roadmap for the state to consider when evaluating how we meet our decarbonization goals across buildings, transportation, industry, and electricity sectors. The process is led by the Department of Commerce, advised by an external Advisory Group, and shaped by technical analysis and support from the Clean Energy Transition Institute. More info here. The draft strategy documents will be released on Oct. 30, followed by public hearings. AIA offered comments during the strategy development process and will offer additional comments on the draft once it is released. If you’d like to be part of AIA’s review, please contact Kirsten.


City of Seattle Budget Process
Seattle kicked off its 2021 budget process in late September with the release of Mayor Durkan’s proposed budget and department presentations to councilmembers. Council hearings and public meetings will be held through the deadline for passing the budget, Nov. 23. The city’s budget calendar is here. You can participate by signing up to provide public comment at a meeting, emailing your councilmembers, or checking their websites for district-specific open meetings and other opportunities for feedback. You can also sign up to receive email newsletters from any of the councilmembers on their websites – these newsletters often have the latest information on district events and councilmember positions.

Seattle City Council Passes Climate Notes Resolution
On Sept. 21, the Seattle City Council unanimously passed a resolution by Councilmember Alex Pedersen that would require Council staff to evaluate the carbon impacts of city projects starting in January 2021. This information will be part of the briefing information distributed to councilmembers on each legislative proposal. Specifically, the resolution asks staff to include information on how each project would impact carbon emissions and whether the project would help or hinder the city’s resiliency to climate change.

AIA Seattle Climate Advocacy Week: Seattle Energy Code
The City of Seattle is updating its commercial energy code as part of its 2018 Construction Code update. You may review the detailed code revisions on the city’s website and read a summary of the changes from AIA Seattle’s Shift Zero coalition partner, the Northwest Energy Coalition, here. These code changes will be considered by the City Council in early December, after the city’s budget process is complete. Once approved, the new codes will go into effect on Feb. 1, along with the statewide code updates.

AIA Seattle strongly supports these code revisions because we believe these changes will help Seattle dramatically reduce fossil fuels in buildings over the next decade. We’re kicking off plans for AIA Seattle’s Climate Advocacy Week, Nov. 30-Dec. 1, when we’ll be asking our members to help us make sure our city councilmembers know how important buildings are to combating climate change and how the energy code changes will put us on a path to reaching the city’s climate goals. Moreover, we’ll be engaging in the same outreach to our King County Councilmembers, who will also be considering the Seattle Energy Code updates during this timeframe. Join us in a week of advocacy – we’ll have learning events, a climate happy hour, and an opportunity for you to join your fellow architects in online meetings with your local representatives. To learn more or to RSVP, click here. Your advocacy will make a big difference!

Seattle Stormwater Code Update
The Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections continues to work on its 2021 Stormwater Code and Manual update, which is scheduled to be effective in July 2021. Revised documents will be posted in November and in January-February 2021. More info is available here.

King County Increases Sales Tax to Provide More Homeless Housing
The King County Council voted on Oct 13 to approve a 0.1 percent sales tax increase to provide additional homeless housing. The tax is expected to raise $70 million a year and will take effect Jan. 1. The County is taking advantage of an opportunity granted by the state legislature earlier this year, which gave local governments the option to adopt a one-tenth of one percent sales tax increase if the money raised is allocated to address affordable housing. King County is opting to use the additional revenue to purchase hotels, motels, or nursing homes that can then be converted into immediate housing for the homeless. The total amount raised will be less than originally planned, however, as the city councils of eight of the county’s 38 cities voted to reserve the right to increase the sales tax in their cities but to use the money for their own projects. Those cities include Bellevue, Issaquah, North Bend, Maple Valley, Snoqualmie, Renton, Covington, and Kent. AIA supported King County’s action as part of a board coalition led by the Housing Development Consortium.


AIA Washington Council’s Advocacy in Action
AIA Washington Council is looking for the next generation of architect advocates! AIA|WA is offering a free, 3-part webinar series on how architects can effectively advocate for the issues that are important to you – whatever you care most about, there’s a way to make a difference. Advocacy in Action will focus on demystifying advocacy, illustrating how to get involved and make an impact on issues such as climate change and housing. The series is designed for emerging professionals and students, but everyone is welcome.  Read more about this series and register here.  You will receive one learning unit for each seminar, and the series is open to all architects and designers in Washington (you do not have to be an AIA member).

Home Electrification Google Group
Interested in residential electrification personally or professionally? Join this Western Washington Home Electrification Google Group to share tips with architects and others who are working through the ins and outs of home electrification.

Fire Code Technical Advisory Group
The State Building Code Council (SBCC) is seeking an architect to serve on the Council’s International Fire Code Technical Advisory Group (TAG) the for the 2021 code adoption cycle (Oct. 2020 – June 2021). Technical Advisory Groups review new editions of the model codes to identify significant changes and review existing and proposed state amendments. Applications to serve on a TAG consist of a letter of interest and a resume, plus an endorsement from AIA Washington Council. For more information, contact Kirsten. You may also contact the SBCC at


AIA Seattle Committee Meetings

The Center for Architecture and Design is closed until the governor’s Stay Home Stay Healthy order is lifted. All meetings and events are either canceled or moved to an online or conference call format.  Check AIA’s events page for more details on specific events.

  • AIA Seattle’s Housing Task Force continues to meet monthly on the second Thursday of each month at noon via Zoom. For info on how to access the meeting, contact Kirsten.
  • AIA Seattle’s Transportation Task Force meets on the second Tuesday of each month from 5:30-6:30 pm via Zoom. The October meeting will be held on Oct. 20, however. To be added to the Task Force’s email list, contact Kirsten.

AIA Seattle Community Engagement Forum – Oct. 19-21
Establishing Meaningful Relationships with Communities You Serve will help you build the knowledge, resources, and skill-sets to form more authentic relationships and coalitions with community and create not only beautiful, functional and successful buildings and spaces, but also transform our profession from one that works for community to one that works with. More info.


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 |