On April 19, citywide Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) legislation became effective, implementing affordable housing requirements throughout the City of Seattle. The legislation amends the Land Use Code in many ways, but specific to the green building standards, it changes the triggers for when the green building requirements apply. The Land Use Code does not make green building mandatory. The code does make green building a requirement when a project exceeds floor area ratio (FAR) thresholds, and when gaining extra floor area and height in specific zones.
In multifamily zones, the legislation amends the allowed floor area limits and creates a requirement for green building standards when a project exceeds a FAR. The exceeded FAR amount differs depending on the multifamily zone and whether it is located inside or outside of an urban center or urban village. This is like previous code requirements when building to the maximum FAR required achievement of the green building standard. The new legislation includes different tables for FAR, one providing the overall limits (Table A and Table B of SMC 23.45.510) and another showing the FAR threshold for green building (Table A for SMC 23.45.530).
There are new opportunities to use incentives to gain extra floor area or height beyond the zoned limits in the Seattle mixed zones. Opportunity to use incentives still exist in midrise, highrise South Downtown (DMC, DMR, IDM, and PSM ((except PSM 100 and PSM 85-120)) and IC85-175 zones. When applicants choose to use the incentive zoning (SMC 23.58A), they must meet the green building standards in addition to meeting MHA.
Director’s Rule 20-2017 describes how to meet the green building standard, document the owner’s commitment, and demonstrate compliance. In some cases, for commercial buildings or residential buildings over 3 stories, demonstrating compliance to our energy savings goal of 15 percent must be via an approved Seattle energy code model. The energy model must be submitted at building permit intake. Please refer to the rule for further explanation of when an energy model is required, and which green building rating can be used to demonstrate energy savings. The rule also requires a green building commitment form be embedded in the plan set for both master use permit and construction permit plan sets. The template commitment form is part of the Director’s Rule and can be found on the forms section at the SDCI webpage.
Planning for green building during the design phases of the project is critical to the success of the project and must be evaluated before committing to the green building requirement and use of the incentives. Feel free to contact us with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.