Rita Hibbard's picture

Going green: new city law requires buildings to report energy use

While more than 25 percent of Seattle’s total greenhouse gas emissions come from buildings, few property managers know how much energy their individual buildings consume.

 “They all know the mileage of their car,” Jayson Antonoff, sustainable infrastructure & green building policy advisor for the Seattle Department of Planning & Development, said. “But not the energy use of their building.”

By not knowing the amount, managers also don’t know how efficient their buildings are. Because many of the buildings are not as energy efficient as they could be, much of the energy paid for by property owners, building managers and tenants  goes to waste.

That could change. A new Seattle ordinance now requires managers of buildings larger than 10,000 square feet -- a total of about 9,000 buildings -- to report and disclose their annual energy consumption to the city.

“You can’t manage what you don’t measure,” Senior Policy Associate for the NW Energy Coalition Kim Drury said. “Feedback is critical in energy management.” The coalition is focused on development of renewable energy and energy conservation.

Drury was one of 50 people, including property managers, tenants, city officials and energy conservation activists, who worked in developing this policy as a way to achieve the overall goal of the Green Building Capital Initiative, which was to reduce energy consumption in Seattle’s existing buildings by 20 percent.

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Protesters attack Port of Seattle salaries, seek better conditions for workers, less air pollution

Protesters attacked air pollution, working conditions and high salaries for port executives

Against the backdrop of a towering asthma-medicine inhaler, about 250 protesters demonstrated downtown on Thursday*, saying the Port of Seattle should do a better job of cleaning up air pollution, taking care of its low-level employees and reining in the six-figure salaries of its executives.

The protest outside a meeting of the American Association of Port Authorities targeted in particular Port of Seattle CEO Tay Yoshitani’s 9 percent pay raise earlier this year that gave him a salary more than twice that of Gov. Chris Gregoire – as state employees saw their paychecks dip 3 percent. Yoshitani makes $366,825 a year.

One protester carried a sign saying “Tay’s pay is not OK.” Others carried Yoshitani’s visage emblazoned with “Overpaid.” Protesters included labor activists, environmentalists, port workers and others.

“He got a 9 percent raise!” state Rep. Zack Hudgins told the demonstrators. “Did anyone here get a 9 percent raise?”

Hudgins, D-Seattle, said he will file legislation that would:

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Activists, truckers, religious leaders call for Port of Seattle to treat truck drivers better

Singing the African-American spiritual “Wade in the Water,” activists and religious leaders and truck drivers tried Wednesday to breach security at a downtown conference of seaport authorities to appeal to the Port of Seattle to improve working conditions and pay for drivers.

In the same hotel where hundreds of delegates to the World Trade Organization took refuge from tear gas in 1999, the activists sought to highlight their call for drivers to be hired as employees instead of scraping by as independent contractors. The drivers say they are on some days working for less than minimum wage, waiting for up to six hours to get a load that might pay them $40 or $50. Because they are independent contractors, the drivers also are responsible for sometimes-expensive maintenance and repairs.

Several waves of protesters, about 30 in all, were turned back in front of a phalanx of Port of Seattle police officers on the fourth floor of the Westin. “If you are not credentialed, you need to head right down that escalator!” Westin General Manager Elizabeth James instructed the last wave, which broke into song as the protesters moved slowly toward the exit.

The protesters are planning a larger demonstration outside the Westin Thursday at noon.

Michael Ramos, executive director of the Church Council of Greater Seattle and a board member of the activist group Puget Sound Sage, said he was trying Wednesday to deliver a letter from several local and national religious leaders calling for better treatment of the drivers. Several workers also bore their own letter, hoping to deliver it to Port of Seattle executives at the conference.

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Backyard fruit feeds the hungry in Seattle

Fruit trees in Seattle produce thousands of pounds of food each year.  Most of this fruit falls to the ground and rots, as the tress go unnoticed, overgrown and uncared for.

But with the help of volunteers and a nonprofit organization, sacks of apples, plums and pears go into the pantries of local low-income people, helping balance food bank offerings this time of year.

Last summer, City Fruit volunteers and employees picked more than 10,000 lbs of fruit from the backyards of homes throughout the city. About 9,000 lbs of it was donated to food banks around the city. With this year’s harvest underway, volunteers and staffers are hoping to hit the same goals.

When the nonprofit organization began picking fruit three years ago, the goal was to pick fruit that otherwise would go to waste.

“We are trying to remind people that fruit is a healthy part of their diet and it’s a great local food source,” City Fruit President James Rooney said.

Volunteers of America Greenwood Food Bank, one of the food banks that received City Fruit donations last year, says demand is strong, with people asking about when the fruit will be arriving.

With an economy driving more people to use food banks and other emergency food services, fresh fruit is much appreciated, Sydney Pawlak community outreach coordinator for Volunteers of America Greenwood Food Bank said.

Last May, the Volunteers of America Greenwood Food Bankhad more than 4,000 visits from people needing food assistance, an all time record high for that location.

During the summer they expect to get even more people coming into the food bank.

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Robert McClure's picture

Cherry Point coal-export port hits two setbacks on environmental front

The controversial proposal for a major coal-export port to be built at Cherry Point near Bellingham hit two big setbacks this week: environmentalists broke off talks with the developer, SSA Marine, which was also caught building a road through forested wetlands without proper permits.

With this news still fresh, we're taking the opportunity to publish the second installment of the package we posted earlier this summer by Western Washington University journalism students who  took an in-depth look at the proposal. 

Briefly, here are this week's developments:

 

 

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Fishing town struggling in wake of tsunami

By Matt Drange

California Watch

 It's been four months since tsunami waves generated by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake off the coast of Japan ravaged the harbor in Northern California's Crescent City, destroying pilings and sinking 16 boats after ripping them from their docks.

But the diminutive harbor is still a long way from functional, crippling to a local economy dependent on the fishing industry. Tsunami victims, meanwhile, are finding little help in disaster relief, much of it in the form of reimbursements and loans they can’t afford.

Excluding the inmates who reside in Pelican Bay State Prison, Crescent City is home to about 4,200 people. The town already took a significant hit when most of the lumber mills and fish processing facilities were shuttered in the last decade, forcing hundreds to leave in search of jobs. Once home to eight lumber mills and three fish processing plants, Crescent City is down to just one of each.

“In a small community, when you lose 100 jobs, it's a big impact. Maybe five years ago, in the good ol' days, if you will, it wouldn't have been so bad,” said Bill Renfroe, executive director of Crescent City's Tri-Agency Economic Development Authority. “But today, with everybody struggling, it's a serious impact.”

Tsunami surges deposited more than 78,000 cubic yards of sediment in the inner boat basin, making it as shallow as four feet in some areas and effectively shutting out boats longer than 15 feet. The harbor is the largest Dungeness crab exporter on the West Coast. At one time, it had more than 100 fishing vessels; now there are only a handful.

Duwamish neighborhoods are a 'food desert' in foodie Seattle -

Seattle has gained a national reputation as a haven for “foodies” – but there’s a “food desert” in its own back yard, ironically in an area that once helped feed a growing city.

The area near the banks of the Duwamish River south of Seattle is where the founder of the Pike Place Market had his original farm. Today, some yards in that area are so contaminated with dioxins in the dirt, the health department advises residents not to grow their own gardens. It’s a place where waves of tribes and immigrants continue to fish the river as they have for decades, but where PCB’s in the river bed have made resident fish no longer safe to eat.

After a century of industrial use, the lower Duwamish River now runs through one of the largest urban Superfund sites in the country. A recent examination of public health data by InvestigateWest revealed that residents who live in the vicinity face more chronic health problems than people who live in other parts of the county. Data show residents in the Duwamish communities are typically more overweight, and have higher incidence of diabetes and more deaths from heart disease. Life expectancy in the area is five years lower than for other, more affluent parts of King County, likely because of some combination of poverty, pollution, and lifestyle.

And food lies at the intersection of all those problems. Affordable nutrition– or lack of it – is at the heart of many of the health problems facing residents in the region along the Duwamish.

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Port of Seattle won't speed up cleanup of trucks' air pollution

The Port of Seattle got a good look this week at who really likes the agency’s multi-faceted plans to reduce port-related air pollution:  Trucking companies, shipping companies, the national ports lobby, the longshoremen’s union and a regional planning agency.

And the port’s elected governing commission also heard who thinks the port is unforgivably laggardly in reducing pollution, especially from diesel-burning trucks that haul cargo out of the port into neighborhoods that register the highest rate of childhood hospitalizations for asthma in King County. Those critics include environmentalists, the Georgetown Community Council*, the Church Council of Greater Seattle, the Teamsters and three other unions.

“The Port of Seattle has taken timid first steps,” Bang Nguyen of the Community Coalition for Environmental Justice told the Port Commission on Tuesday. “Act now to protect children.”

But the port commissioners did not act. Nguyen and other activists urged the commission to accelerate plans to require that trucks picking up cargo meet the latest federal air-pollution regulations for diesel-fired vehicles.  Instead, the commission will wait a year for recommendations from its staff.

Jim Tutton, vice president of the Washington Trucking Association, said the port’s current plan to require 80 percent of the trucks to have the latest pollution-control systems by Dec. 31, 2015, is good enough.  All the trucks must be compliant by Dec. 31, 2017.

“We greatly appreciate the way the Port of Seattle’s clean truck program has been instituted,” Tutton said. “The industry has been able to adopt the new requirements in a reasonable manner, allowing companies (and) their drivers to continue serving their customers without a disruption… Our compliments to the port.”

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