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Seattle City Light Expands Energy-Efficiency Program To Pay Building Owners For Their Investments

courtesy Rob Harmon, MEETS Coalition. MEETS stands for 'Metered Energy Efficiency Transaction Structure.'
This diagram shows how pilot program from Seattle City Light works to encourage investments in energy efficiency for buildings.

One of the most effective sources of so-called ‘clean energy’ is increasing efficiency, so less is needed to heat or cool or light a building.

A new program from Seattle City Light incentivizes landlords to invest in those upgrades.

Making a building more energy-efficient by installing upgrades such as new insulation or lighting is a great way to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

But unlike putting a solar array on the roof, building owners normally don’t see any return on investments in energy efficiency, says Rob Harmon, an environmental entrepreneur and policy advisor at the local company, LevelTen Energy.

“Most buildings built in the 50s, 60s, 70s and even in the early part of the 80s around the country are incredibly energy-inefficient. And particularly in the commercial sector, they have barely been touched,” Harmon says, “because the building owners are asked to make the investments and the tenants receive the savings.” 

Seattle City Light is pioneering an approach that he hopes will be emulated all over the world, as communities strive to reduce their carbon footprints.

The program puts a meter on the building to monitor how much energy is saved through improvements  and then pays the building owner for those savings over time for up to 20 years.

The program was piloted three years ago at the Bullitt Foundation building in central Seattle and is now expanding to another 30 buildings.

Building owners interested in applying for the program can click hereto find more information.

This story was updated May 23, 2018 to clarify Rob Harmon's role at LevelTen.

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment for KNKX with an emphasis on climate justice, human health and food sovereignty. She enjoys reporting about how we will power our future while maintaining healthy cultures and livable cities. Story tips can be sent to