Environmental Action in Seattle for A Sustainable, Healthier Future


Climate Protection Initiative: Reducing global warming pollution and improving air quality




Seattle 2006-2007 Environmental Action Agenda:

A Global City Acting Locally


Climate Protection Initiative:

Reducing global warming pollution and improving air quality

Recent Accomplishments:





  • Seattle City Light achieved zero net emissions of global warming pollution
  • Reduced the City fleet’s use of fossil fuels by 12% compared to the 1999 baseline; increased use of biodiesel in City fleet 4.5 times over 2003 levels
  • Completed retrofitting the City's fleet of heavy duty diesel trucks with state of the art emission control equipment




Key Next Steps:



  • Complete the Seattle Climate Action Plan, a detailed strategy— based on Green Ribbon Commission recommendations—for reducing the city's global warming pollution and helping Seattle-area businesses and residents lower their greenhouse gas emissions
  • Launch the Seattle Climate Partnership, a voluntary climate protection pact among Seattle-area employers
  • Complete Chief Sealth Trail in southeast Seattle, and a comprehensive Bicycle Master Plan that enhances bicycling opportunities and improves connections between urban villages and centers
  • Continue to meet City Light’s “zero net emissions” goal through conservation, renewable energy, and offset projects
  • Continue to increase alternative fuel and advance technology vehicles in the City fleet



Green Seattle Initiative

Restoring the urban forest, increasing open space and greening the built environment

Recent Accomplishments:


  • Initiated restoration on more than 75 acres of forested parklands through the Green Seattle Partnership
  • Created six new community gardens, focusing on underserved areas and bringing City-wide total to 70
  • Planted more than 4,000 new trees on major streets and in neighborhoods
  • Acquired more than 30 acres to preserve wild habitat, increase green space, and create eight new parks in underserved areas
  • Reduced pesticide use in Parks general operations by 80% from the baseline




Key Next Steps:

  •        Initiate restoration on 85 additional acres of forested parklands and  

            recruit and manage 75,000 volunteer hours through the Green Seattle 



  • Adopt an Urban Forest Management Plan, including goals for increasing tree cover
  • Increase vegetation, including tree preservation and planting, on private property through education, incentives and regulations such as creating flexible landscaping requirements for development projects
  • Increase tree planting on City property and improve maintenance of City-owned street trees
  • Increase open space in fast-growing neighborhoods by implementing new open space impact fees
  • Build green roofs on two City buildings and monitor four green roofs to inform policy and program development



Restore Our Waters

Protecting and improving water quality and aquatic habitat



Recent Accomplishments:


  • Launched Restore Our Waters Initiative outlining priority actions for water quality and aquatic habitat improvements
  • 42 blocks of natural drainage systems installed
  • Created new grant program to provide residents and businesses with matching funds for aquatic habitat restoration (five awards totaled $300,000)
  • Completed two shoreline restorations on Lake Washington, improved water quality in Green Lake and conducted a water quality study in the Duwamish at Norfolk Basin
  • Adopted a stronger Environmentally Critical Areas Ordinance to better protect wetlands, creek corridors and shoreline areas

Key Next Steps:


  • Revise drainage code and rates to provide incentives for property owners to manage stormwater on-site with green roofs, rain gardens, rain barrels and cisterns
  • Improve shoreline and aquatic habitat in the Ship Canal and Lake Union through a program that directs developers’ mitigation fees toward high-priority restoration sites
  • Install 18 new blocks of natural drainage systems
  • Systematically identify and implement opportunities to improve water quality and aquatic habitat as part of the City’s capital improvement projects
  • Begin comprehensive Shoreline Master Program update






V olunteers planting trees in the Cedar River Watershed

Healthy People & Communities

Creating healthy, livable urban centers, promoting sustainable practices and improving environmental justice

Recent Accomplishments:


  • Adopted downtown zoning changes to reduce sprawl and encourage transit-friendly development, affordable housing and green building
  • Continued healthy redevelopment of Northgate, South Lake Union, South Downtown and other urban centers
  • Produced “Green Seattle Guide” to inform and inspire individual action
  • Completed seven civic green building projects, bringing City total to 13
  • Strengthened recycling program, including increasing food and yard waste composting services


Key Next Steps:


  • Complete the Livable South Downtown Plan to increase housing and improve walkability, open space and neighborhood vitality
  • Complete redevelopment plan for the Central Waterfront to include a healthy network of green spaces, walking and biking trails and shoreline access points
  • Strengthen City’s Green Building Program by increasing outreach, technical assistance and incentives to developers; launch sustainable development resource center
  • Improve indoor air quality in affordable housing projects through enhanced construction standards and targeted outreach to building owners and inhabitants
  • Reduce waste and feed hungry people by strengthening programs that redirect edible food to people in need


Green Seattle Initiative – Keeping the Emerald City Green

Seattle is rapidly losing its green. In 1972, trees covered about 40% of the city.  Since then, tree cover has declined to about 18%. We are witnessing the death of our precious forested parklands as they have aged and invasive plants like ivy have choked out the next generation of trees.

This loss is so much more than aesthetic. Trees contribute value to Seattle by absorbing storm water and improving air and water quality as well as increasing our property values. Trees are part of the fabric of our quality of life in Seattle, bringing nature into our urban landscape.

The Urban Forest Management Plan, our first ever comprehensive plan for managing all of the trees across the city - public and private, will be ready for public comment this fall.

This plan establishes aggressive canopy cover goals and creates a framework for actions that will improve the number and condition of the city’s trees.  Community comments this fall will help shape the plan and our path ahead.


While we are moving the plan forward for adoption later this year, the City will take the following steps toward the overarching goal of improving the condition of the city’s urban forest: 

  • The Green Seattle Partnership with the Cascade Land Conservancy is ramping up efforts to restore 2500 acres of degraded forested parkland by 2025 by removing invasive species and replanting. The program’s 20-year plan is ambitious and can only be achieved as a partnership with the city’s residents.  The investments made today will serve generations of Seattleites into the future.


  • Private property makes up about three quarters of Seattle, meaning that many of our best opportunities for preserving and planting trees are in our yards and in our business districts and on our campuses. This fall, the Mayor will launch a major effort to encourage residents to plant more trees.


  • The City will convene an Emerald City Task Force of developers, urban designers, builders, and residents to develop recommendations for new incentives and regulations to protect existing trees and encourage tree planting. Together we can keep the Emerald City green.


“Seattleites define themselves as ‘green’ not only by taking a bus to work, buying a fuel-efficient car or taking a canvas bag to the market – but by the very choice they’ve made to live and work here. While bounded by the mountains and water, Seattle is most of all a city of trees and green spaces.” – Mayor Nickels

Thanks to the Mayor's Urban Sustainability Advisory Panel who provided their support and guidance


Stella Chao, Executive Director International District Housing Alliance

Cynthia Figge, Partner EKOS International

Wayne Grotheer, Director Health, Environment & Risk Services Port of Seattle

Dennis McLerran, Executive Director Puget Sound Clean Air Agency

Rodney Proctor, Director Environmental Health & Safety Weyerhaeuser

Ken Bounds, Superintendent Seattle Parks and Recreation Jorge Carrasco, Superintendent Seattle City Light

Charlie Cunniff, Executive Director Environmental Coalition of South Seattle

KC Golden, Project Director Climate Solutions

David Levinger, President & Executive Director Feet First

Ben Packard, Director Environmental Affairs Starbucks Coffee Company

Scott Rusch, Vice President Facilities and Operations Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

Chuck Clarke, Director Seattle Public Utilities


Alan Durning, Executive Director Sightline Institute

Bert Gregory, Principal Mithun

Michael McGinn Sierra Club - Cascade Chapter

Margaret Pageler Ex Officio Member

Sharon Sutton, Professor Center for Environment, Education & Design

Grace Crunican, Director Seattle Transportation

Diane Sugimura, Director Seattle Department of Planning & Development



Report and Photographs thanks to the City of Seattle


Office of the Mayor  

Office of Sustainability and Environment

(206) 684-4000 (206) 615-0817

Latest articles


Air Pollution



Endangered Species




Global Climate Change

Global Health


Natural Disaster Relief

News and Special Reports

Oceans, Coral Reefs



Public Health



Toxic Chemicals


Waste Management


Water and Sanitation

Yale Himalaya Initiative