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Durkan signs two bills to improve building energy efficiency

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan signed two bills today expanding Seattle City Light programs to incentivize energy efficiency in buildings.

The bill signing comes a week after Durkan proposed several transportation and building changes to reduce carbon emissions in the city, including “congestion pricing” for downtown streets.

The first bill expands the program offering Energy Efficiency as a Service (EEaaS). The EEaaS program is designed to address the “split incentive barrier” in which building owners are reluctant to invest in energy efficiency retrofits, when most of the savings and benefits go to tenants. EEaaS provides building owners with rebates based on energy saved. The bill expands the program to up to 30 new buildings and extends contract lengths to up to 20 years.

“This financial structure is designed to overcome building owners’ reluctance to undertake costly energy efficiency improvements by ensuring a predictable rate of return on their investments. The City wins in energy use reduction, and building owners win in rebates on their energy savings,” says the Mayor’s office.

The second bill Durkan signed extends contract lengths for Seattle City Light’s Pay for Performance (P4P) pilot program. The program offers incentive payments over time based off of measured improvements in energy efficiency. The bill extends contract limits between Seattle City Light and P4P programs from two years to seven years, which Durkan’s office says “will create more certainty for building owners and more attractive incentives to improve buildings’ energy efficiency.”

Expansion of both the EEaaS and P4P programs were part of Durkan’s Seattle Climate Action plan released last week.

“The continuation of our pioneering program to encourage energy efficiency is a model for the rest of the country,” said Durkan in a press release. “Expanding both of these key initiatives, we are adding another mode for instituting energy efficiency to reduce the polluting of our environment.”