KCHA has just been awarded a Green Globe award by King County for its leadership in environmentally sustainable business practices. The award is the County’s highest honor for local environmental efforts.
“Climate change is real. We appreciate the many opportunities to partner with King County government – from large-scale green development in White Center to reducing toxic chemical usage in our maintenance operations - to both fight climate change and ensure healthier communities,” said KCHA Executive Director Stephen Norman.
As part these ongoing efforts, KCHA is currently installing $22 million in energy-efficiency improvements in its public housing inventory.
Upgrades include new LED lighting, new ductless heat pumps, and air ventilation systems to improve indoor air quality. Water conservation measures including .8 GPF toilets, aerators, and water-saving showerheads are also being installed. These measures will also provide ongoing utility cost savings for both the Housing Authority and low-income residents.
Energy consumption to power and heat buildings accounts for 45 percent of this country’s carbon dioxide emissions. As one the County’s largest residential property owners, with some 9,600 units of low- and moderate-income housing in over 125 properties, KCHA’s sustainability efforts are an important part of regional efforts to help stem the pace of climate change.
In 2012, KCHA was the first public housing authority in the country to establish a resource conservation department and to begin working with local utilities to measure whole building consumption. New approaches, ranging from building design, construction, and management practices to educating residents on how to recycle properly and reduce energy and water consumption, have been adopted across the organization. Since initiating its first resource management plan in 2012, KCHA has:
- Reduced whole property energy by 6 percent.
Designed and installed permeable surfaces, landscape swales, and rain gardens across its inventory. Landscapes are designed to be low-maintenance and drought-tolerant.
100 percent of KCHA properties now have recycling services and 16 sites are composting food. KCHA was recognized by the King County Solid Waste Division as one of the Best Workplaces for Waste Prevention and Recycling for its efforts to recycle and reduce waste in 2015.
All new construction and major renovation projects follow green-building principles established by the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties’ Built Green® program, U.S. Green Building Council (LEED), and/or the Evergreen Sustainable Development Standards. KCHA’s new offices, in a retrofitted warehouse in Tukwila, received an ASHRAE Technology Award in the Commercial Buildings - Existing category. The ASHRAE technology awards program recognizes outstanding achievement in the design and operation of energy-efficient buildings.
EnviroStars: 49 KCHA properties are certified with 3-5-stars by the King County EnviroStars program for adopting strict hazardous waste management practices.
KCHA has reduced annual gasoline consumption and is shifting its fleet to plug-in hybrids and propane; eventually all vehicles will be powered by non-gasoline engines. Electric charging stations have been installed at seven KCHA properties, with five more planned in 2017.
KCHA has 100 kW of solar installed at six properties throughout King County, including one of the largest multifamily solar systems in the state.
Goals in the new 2017-2021 Sustainability Plan include:
- Water: An additional 10 percent reduction in usage for multifamily properties.
- Energy: Achieve an additional 10 percent reduction in energy use per square foot (EUI).
- Greenhouse gasses: A 5 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from electricity and gas consumption.
- Renewable energy: Double KCHA’s renewable energy capacity to 195kW of solar.
- Recycling: Reach a 55 percent recycling and organic waste composting diversion rate.
- EnviroStars: Certify all KCHA properties at 3 stars or higher through the King County EnviroStars program.
- Alternative fuels: Increase KCHA’s vehicle fleet using alternative fuels to more than 30 percent and add six more electric vehicle charging stations.
- Empowerment: Engage residents to improve environmental, health, and economic outcomes.
Read KCHA’s Sustainability Plan.
KCHA, an independent municipal corporation established under state law, assists more than 18,000 households in the Seattle metropolitan region on a daily basis. The Authority administers rental housing assistance, develops and manages affordable housing and works closely with community stakeholders to address local priorities such as ending homelessness, improving educational outcomes for the region’s low-income youth and assuring that disabled and elderly households can live with dignity.