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Built Green as a Community-Oriented Solution

A rainy day in the city

By Zoe Ludwig, Built Green Intern | This is part three in a three-part series. Read parts one and two.

How is Built Green a Part of the Solution? 

Built Green is committed to all types of sustainability, including but not limited to environmental sustainability. In addition to working with local governments on green construction, Built Green also supports affordable housing and sustainable zoning practices. Built Green certification is granted through the use of a checklist, in which points are assigned to grade the “green-ness” of a home, including the location of the home. Built Green builder member companies can do their part and earn checklist points in the following ways: 

Single-Family Checklist

  • Locate site within one of the Urban Growth Area (UGA) designated areas (five points)
  • Provide accessory dwelling unit or accessory living quarters (10 points)
  • Build within a quarter mile of a transit stop (three points)
  • Design to promote and encourage pedestrian-friendly and safe neighborhoods (one to five points)
  • Build on a lot that is within a half mile of at least six essential services, (e.g., grocery store, post office, place of worship, community center, daycare center, bank, school, restaurant, medical/dental office, laundromat/dry cleaner, etc.) (three points)
  • Driveways or parking are shared between multiple units (four points)
  • Proximity to bike amenities within one mile (three points) 

Multi-Family Checklist

  • Create a transit-oriented development (15 points)
  • Build within a quarter mile of a transit stop or park and ride (four points)
  • Create a mixed-use building (15 points)
  • Provide subsidized bus passes (25 percent or 50 percent subsidized) (six to ten points)
  • Provide bicycle lockers or bicycle storage beyond code (two points)
  • Provide bus shelters (two points)
  • Provide dedicated parking spots for carpool or car-share vehicles (six points for first stall above code, two points for each additional, for a maximum of 12 points)
  • Provide a link to community trails (two points)
  • Avoid excessive outdoor light levels while maintaining adequate light for security and safe access (five points)

Many of these checklist items are regarding accessible transportation or community services. Enhancing these elements of home ownership and rentals can help end the stigma surrounding “dense” building by focusing on the positive aspects of community. Through our checklists, Built Green supports sustainable community on a project-by-project basis. We also actively participate in the discussion of how our region can be both greener and more inclusive, including at this year’s Built Green Conference.

“If you’re the quintessential suburbanite, density’s a swear word, if you’re an urbanist, it’s a buzzword,” says Branden Born of the University of Washington via The Seattle Times. Those who oppose denser building typically argue that it rids a neighborhood of its charm. But skyscrapers and towering apartment buildings aren’t the only ways to create more dense housing. For example, ADUs and DADUs (attached and detached mother-in-law units), duplexes, triplexes, and townhomes are great alternatives to the stereotypical approaches. Built Green is excited to have not only certified some of these building types, but to support the housing flexibility they bring. Still, these solutions require more inclusive zoning laws from the city. Check out more about how the ‘quintessential Seattle block’ can uphold charm and density.

The American Dream may still be alive and well, but it is dependent on people adopting an attitude of sustainable living. Now, the American dream is owning or renting a place that is comfortable for you. It’s waking up in the morning, walking a quarter mile or a half a mile to your bus stop. It’s coming home from work and saying hello to your neighbor in the grocery store in the downstairs level of your building. It’s knowing that your kids can have access to a good education, regardless of their zip code. We can learn from the shortcomings of those here before us and make this dream a possibility for all. Together, we can make living in the city more affordable, keep community sacred, and create a more united Puget Sound region.


Interested in this complex topic? At this year’s Built Green Conference, we are hosting a panel called From Exclusionary to Inclusionary: How Can We Make Our Region Inclusive, Resilient, and Vibrant? featuring Alan Durning of Sightline Institute, candidates for Seattle public office, and experts on environmental justice and community participation. Register for the conference today—ticket prices increase September 1!


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