Environment and Climate Change

Reducing Seattle’s carbon pollution to improve health outcomes, bolster our economy, and protect our natural resources for generations to come
Seattle has long been a leader in protecting the environment and working to combat climate change. Our climate action plan, created in 2011, adopted a bold climate protection goal for our community to become carbon neutral by 2050. We recognize that we are not on track to meet all of our goals to reduce carbon pollution, and more coordination and action is needed. We also recognize that protecting the environment is an equity issue, and that Communities of Color and lower-income communities disproportionately experience the devastating effects of climate change. Actions to reduce pollution can have significant added benefits for our residents, from improved health outcomes to workforce and economic opportunities. 

Reduce greenhouse gas emissions from buildings

What we track: Metric tons of CO2e emissions from the building sector
Why is this important?
Energy and fuel used to heat and cool our buildings accounts for 35% of Seattle's core climate emissions, a significant proportion of Seattle's pollution. The City advances energy efficiency and emission reduction strategies for commercial buildings, residential buildings, and City of Seattle owned buildings.

Since buildings and transportation represent the greatest sources of greenhouse gas, this is where Seattle is focused on making a difference.  
Hover over each bar to see the amount of greenhouse gas emissions from buildings
How we measure:
The data used to measure this comes from the most recent Seattle Greenhouse Gas Inventory. Seattle’s building emissions include emissions associated with the energy consumed for heating and cooling, hot water, cooking, lighting, appliances, computers, and other plug loads. Since 2008, Seattle's building emissions have declined by 13%. However, between 2014 and 2016, they rose slightly. Seattle's goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from buildings by 39% by 2030.
What progress are we making?
As one of the largest property owners in the City, Seattle sets the standard with its aggressive goals for improving municipal building efficiency. The City is on track to meet our goal of a 20% reduction in energy use for City-owned buildings by 2020 (from 2008 levels). Beyond the 2020 goal, the 2018 Climate Action Strategy calls for an even more aggressive goal of reducing both energy use and carbon emissions by 40% by 2025. Accounting for weather, our most recent analysis shows cumulative portfolio-wide reductions to 14.5%. However, despite overall efficiency gains, the City saw a 4% increase in absolute energy use and a 12% increase in absolute carbon emissions in its building portfolio from 2016 to 2017 due to a particularly cold winter. 
Seattle has numerous programs to help advance building energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions. The Seattle Energy Benchmarking program was launched in 2010 and requires commercial and multi-family buildings (20k+ square feet) to track and report annual energy use. More recently, in 2016 Seattle enacted the Seattle Building Tune-Ups ordinancerequiring large buildings to periodically "tune-up" so they are operating as efficiently as possible. Additionally, Seattle enforces one of the most advanced energy codes in the nation.
For homeowners using oil to heat their homes, the City is providing significant incentives to help move residents from dirty oil to a high efficiency heat pump that uses Seattle's carbon neutral electricity. Low income homeowners can get free energy efficiency improvements that will improve comfort, save money, and reduce climate impacts. Seattle City Light offers numerous weatherization incentives that increase efficiency.

Increase the share of electric vehicles

What we track: Percentage of all light-duty vehicles registered in Seattle that are electric
Why is this important?
Road transportation accounts for 62% of Seattle’s core climate emissions, with single occupancy vehicle trips contributing 37%. Seattle’s overall approach to reduce these emissions is to leverage advances in technology and our increasingly dense city to fundamentally change how people get around. The future of transportation is smart, shared, and electric. We need to continue to accelerate electrifying our transportation system.
Hover over the bars to see the total number of electric vehicles (EVs)
How we measure:
The data used in this measure represents two types of EV registrations for Seattle City Light's customer service territory: monthly plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and battery-powered electric vehicles (BEVs). Seattle's goal is to have EVs make up 30% of all registered light-duty vehicles by 2030.
What progress are we making?
Although the total market share is still very low, the number of EVs being registered each month is climbing. Over ten percent of all new vehicle registrations were electric by the end of 2018. 
The City is working to become an EV-friendly city by partnering with the community and the private sector to increase the adoption of electric vehicles by facilitating access to charging through the following ways:
City of Seattle continues to set an example by committing to phase out the use of fossil fuels in all City fleet vehicles. As of December 2018, the City has purchased a total of 169 BEVs and 127 PHEVs, representing 8.5% of the total on-road, motorized vehicles in the City fleet. Currently, sedans are the only market-ready all-electric vehicle option, making up 34% of the City's fleet.