Monday, April 09, 2007

Green Seattle's Not So Green City Hall

By way of Sound Politics...

This is fairly old from the Seattle PI, but new to me and timely in that as Stefan Sharkansky points out, Seattle has one of the greenest Mayors

Seattle's new City Hall was designed with the environment in mind, using the most energy-efficient technologies.

But the building acts like an old-fashioned electricity hog. It has lofty public spaces and walls of glass designed to welcome citizens and suggest an open and transparent government. It also uses 15 percent to 50 percent more electricity some months than the older, larger building it replaced, according to Seattle City Light utility bills.
According to City Light figures, the new building uses 7,045 kilowatt-hours of energy on average per day, compared with 5,940 kilowatt-hours per day in the old place.
The new, $72 million City Hall, which opened at 600 Fourth Ave. two years ago, is considerably smaller than the 1960s-era building it replaced. It also houses far fewer employees.

"It was designed to be a building that is much more inviting to the public ... beyond what the old municipal building ever was," she said. "This is an energy-efficient building."

The new City Hall is designed to meet requirements for silver certification under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program. The documentation for certification was just sent last month to the U.S. Green Building Council.

Certification considers all aspects of a building's design, such as the materials used, water and energy efficiency, natural light, views, landscaping and how a building is oriented on the site.

"Energy efficiency is a big part of LEED," said Gwyn Jones, a spokeswoman for the Green Building Council.

But the certification process doesn't audit actual performance of the building or how much energy it really uses.
On Friday, City Light managers seemed confident that their charts showed the new building used significantly less energy than its now-demolished counterpart. But utility managers had used the wrong address for the old building in the chart, substituting the big, 24-hour Public Safety Building that used to be across the street by mistake.

When the correct numbers were checked later, it was clear that the new building consistently uses more electricity. Some months the difference is slight; other months it is more dramatic.

Lake said she is at a loss to guess why the building would use more electricity than its predecessor, especially because the air-cooling and heating systems primarily use natural gas, not electricity.

She guessed that maybe light fixtures high above the floor, while energy-efficient, require more electricity to cast their light that far below.

It was just a guess.

City Light Superintendent Jorge Carrasco said it might make more sense to look at the issue from a different perspective. If the building didn't have all the energy-saving features and investments, it would be using even more electricity every day. The devices reduce consumption in the building on the average of 19 percent, he said.

"That comparison corrects for all other things," he said.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Typical of a seattle liberal to rewrite history (or attempt to) to promote the liberal position.

it is just like the carbon offsets that Al Gore buys from the company that he owns.