Seattle officials want to green up their building stock, and one of their tools is implementing a Living Building Challenge pilot program that would allow construction of buildings taller than the present height limits in certain areas. To have a height exception approved, the building would have to be sustainable according to the Living Building Challenge standard.
Some residents are upset over the possibility of taller buildings going up in their neighborhood, though. They say these taller structures would obscure views and cast shadows on their property, which would deprive them of sunlight on winter days.
The argument in favor of the height exception under the pilot program is to “allow additional flexibility in the application of development standards in the Land Use Code (Title 23) through the design review process in order to accommodate innovative technologies or design approaches that might otherwise be discouraged or prohibited.”
The pilot program will accept up to 12 projects over a three-year period. Projects chosen for the program would be given fast-track priority in the city’s review process, and “an integrated, coordinated review that can identify and resolve issues for complex projects.”
Living Buildings are required to be self-sufficient for energy and water needs, and meet advanced standards for elements such as material use and quality of the indoor environment. Seattle’s pilot program would also allow other code exceptions including for parking, floor area ratios, and street, alley, and easement requirements.