In writing the 2012 Seattle Energy Code, the Seattle Code Committee did something that is perhaps unprecedented in the history of municipal regulations.
Namely, the new code included a path to compliance that would allow developers to essentially do anything they wanted to a building, so long as the building plans met a few simple prerequisites and a strictly-defined energy performance target. This is a provision that provided developers with a unique degree of flexibility, while also giving the city real leverage in mandating energy efficiency.
While this new compliance path in Seattle is optional (there are three other paths that design teams can use to comply with the code), it represents a shift in energy policy that is truly groundbreaking in America. This alternate compliance path is one of the first true “performance-based” codes in the country, and it represents a glimpse of the future.
Quite frankly, the modern construction industry evolved during a time when high performance wasn’t required in the built environment.
That time, however, is passing.