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City of Seattle Awarded Federal Grant to Provide Energy Efficiency and Health Improvements in Multifamily Affordable Housing

Department of Energy Grant Supports City of Seattle’s Nation-Leading Efforts to Decarbonize Existing Multifamily Affordable Housing Buildings

Seattle (August 4, 2022) – The City of Seattle has been awarded a grant from the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Enhancement and Innovation Program to convert gas water heating, space heating and other gas appliances in multifamily affordable housing properties to electric systems. In Seattle, buildings are one of the largest and fastest growing sources of climate pollution. The projects supported by this federal grant will provide valuable insights and data to DOE to help inform a holistic nationwide approach to energy efficiency and decarbonization in the multifamily affordable housing sector. While the City applied for $1.7 million, the final amount will be determined through award negotiations with DOE.

A multiagency team led by the Office of Housing, along with the Office of Sustainability and the Environment (OSE), Seattle City Light (SCL), and the Seattle-based non-profit organization Housing Development Consortium (HDC), will implement decarbonization, along with traditional weatherization measures and health and safety improvements in 3-5 multifamily projects. To complete these projects, the DOE grant will be leveraged with several other sources of funding, including other state and federal weatherization dollars, and conservation funds from SCL.

“We are absolutely thrilled to have this funding to support our multifamily affordable housing projects, convert from fossil fuels to cleaner heat sources and appreciate the strong partnership between OH, SCL, OSE and HDC that made this application successful,” said Jennifer LaBrecque, Manager of Market Incentives, Land Use & Sustainability at the Office of Housing.

“Seattle City Light is excited for this opportunity to work with our City partners to leverage these federal funds, along with utility resources, to enhance current weatherization program strategies by deploying an innovative decarbonization approach”, added Debra Smith, General Manger/CEO Seattle City Light.

“Transitioning buildings from burning fossil fuels to using clean electricity, especially in buildings where our most vulnerable residents live, is key to equitably addressing the dangerous impacts of climate change like the extreme heat and smoke events Seattle continues to experience. These improvements make buildings more efficient and reduce energy use while providing cooling and improved indoor air quality,” said Jessyn Farrell, Director of the Seattle Office of Sustainability and the Environment.

“We are thrilled that this partnership builds on both our collective on-going efforts to expand the capacity of the affordable housing community to plan for and implement retrofits in existing multifamily building and the city’s standing years of effective stewardship of the weatherization program. It is a holistic approach that serves at the nexus of increasing access to healthy and efficient affordable housing, advancing environmental justice, and decarbonization goals for low-income households,” said Patience Malaba, Director of Housing Development Consortium of Seattle-King County.

Once complete, the projects supported by this grant will reduce energy costs for residents while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions that cause harmful impacts to the environment. The projects have a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from all buildings by 50% and increasing energy efficiency by 30%, which will help reduce tenant’s energy bills. To further support these households, the City aims to have 98% of tenants enrolled in the City of Seattle’s Utility Discount Program (UDP), with a goal of a 10% reduction in energy costs for each household.

Over the last 15 years, the Office of Housing and its partners have provided energy efficiency improvements to 280 multifamily properties. These 280 properties comprise over 13,000 housing units, the vast majority of which are rent- and income-restricted affordable housing.

More information about the Office of Housing’s Multifamily Weatherization Program and City’s Utility Discount Program can be found at the links provided.