Sustainable Building Initiatives

Housing affordability and availability is a critical issue in our region. As such, many social and financial challenges can often disincentive organizations from going beyond code to exemplary green building. HDC and our partners work to emphasize the lifecycle implications of reduced energy and water bills, and reduced exposure to toxins. Our members are on the cutting edge, directly confronting the tension between balancing upfront costs and creating durable homes as permanent, affordable assets to our communities.

Leading the work, is our Exemplary Building Program (EBP) that aims to transform the affordable housing market, making it possible to standardize the construction of “ultra-efficient buildings.

In this way, our developers, residents, and communities realize long-term economic and health benefits while reducing our environmental impacts. For more information, visit our EBP-specific website, or email Loren Tierney.

HDC and our members also recognize, engage with, and support a number of other programs that align and/or overlap with our sustainability efforts across the regions:

Access Solar
Access Solar is a joint initiative of Spark Northwest and Emerald Cities Seattle to expand solar energy access to organizations and communities that have been left out of the transition to clean energy due to barriers related to policy, capacity, and/or financing. Onsite solar energy will help to stabilize operating costs for organizations that support those most vulnerable to climate impacts. In coordination with Emerald Cities Seattle’s RENEW program for energy efficiency, Access Solar designs and develops solar projects that help affordable housing providers, mission-driven organizations, and businesses thrive.


HDC has partnered with Healthy Building Network (HBN) to bring the HomeFree program to the Emerald Corridor. HomeFree is a national initiative developed by HBN to enable affordable housing developers, operators, designers and contractors to improve human health by using less toxic building materials. According to the US EPA, we spend up to 90 percent of our time indoors. Virtually all materials we use in our buildings, even “natural” materials such as wood, brick and stone, are chemically processed. As a result, today’s buildings contain many different chemicals of concern. We hope to reduce toxic chemical exposures from building materials to the people who build, maintain, or live in their homes through HomeFree’s material and chemical index.


Shift Zero
Shift Zero is a Zero Net Carbon building alliance made up of green building, climate action, and equity-focused organizations (including HDC), which has coalesced around common ground (concern about the climate crisis) to work for common cause (zero net carbon building for all communities) with the power of collective voice. The Alliance focuses on initiatives that are ambitious, scalable, equitable, and quantifiable, helping to shape policymaking at local cities, counties, the Washington State Housing Finance Commission, and State of Washington.


20 by 2020 Building Challenge
The 20 by 2020 Building Challenge aims to catalyze the construction of 20 Passive House projects of 20,000 square feet or large, within King County by the year 2020. A campaign of Passive House Northwest, in collaboration with community partners Housing Development Consortium, King County Green Tools Program, and The Bullitt Foundation, the Challenge’s goals are to provide “proof of concept” that healthy, super-efficient buildings make economic sense and can provide equitable access to high quality, high performance buildings for people of all income levels.