Washington Governor Jay Inslee Leads on High Efficiency, ZNE Buildings

On April 29, 2014, Washington’s Governor Jay Inslee signed an Executive Order announcing a broad new effort for the State of Washington to address the challenges of climate change. The order contained some important language around zero net energy buildings calling for a statewide program that would “achieve early and widespread deployment of energy-neutral building prior to the 2031 statutory requirement in RCW 19.27.A.160.”By pointing specifically to this already legislated policy for zero net energy (ZNE) buildings in state law, Gov Inslee Is taking a first important step in meeting the agreements he has made as part of the Pacific Coast Collaborative – a critical binational agreement to develop the world’s largest economic unit (the fifth largest in the world) that all share the target of ‘zero-net-energy’ level buildings. The Governors of California, Oregon and Washington, and the Premier of British Columbia are all signatories to a platform seeking evolution of the built environment in the entire Pacific Coast region to ZNE buildings.

Governor Jay Inslee Governor Jay Inslee

Gov Inslee has now provided the spark of strong leadership that will potentially ignite the exciting work of transforming the state’s building mix towards those that use no more energy than they produce onsite. He has multiple tools to begin this work – from economic development programs to building codes to leadership in the State Capitol.

Duane Jonlin, Energy Conservation Advisor for the City of Seattle and a member of the State Building Code Council, commented on the action, saying:“Energy-efficient buildings will need to form the core of the Governor’s program. In order to run the whole state without dirty energy and still have power left over for millions of new electric vehicles, we’ll need to dramatically reduce the energy that our buildings use (and waste). Constructing and maintaining higher-quality buildings instead of sending that money out of state to buy fuel will keep our business climate healthy and growing over the long run. In the near term however, builders and building owners need technical and financial help to work through this disruptive transition. Although renewable energy becomes increasingly important as its cost continues to fall, energy efficiency should be seen as our cheapest and most plentiful resource.”

NBI’s headquarters are located in Washington, so for us this action not only reflects critical leadership, it’s personal. As a purveyor of the advanced design practices, improved technologies, public policies and programs that improve energy efficiency, we look forward to beginning this important work with the Governor and the teams he will be working with throughout the state.