SustainableWorks is an energy efficiency program that uses energy retrofits as a neighborhood organizing tool. We wrote about this innovative program late last year and earlier this year when SB 5649 passed the Washington State Legislature. 

The SustainableWorks model is unique because it takes seriously the idea that retrofits can be a way of empowering local communities and neighborhoods through mobilizing themselves to save energy with retrofits. 

  • The bill provided for, among other things, retrofitting thousands of homes and businesses in Washington State. What makes the SustainableWorks approach unique is that it focuses not just on individual homes that meet requirements but entire neighborhoods.

    Next week, on August 27, a kick off meeting will be held in Seattle’s Ravenna neighborhood. Here are the details of the meeting from a recent announcement:

    We are pleased to announce that Northeast Seattle (approximately NE 65th Street to NE 85th Street and 20th Avenue NE to 30th Avenue NE) will be the pilot neighborhood for SustainableWorks organizing, auditing, and retrofitting.

    Similar work is going on in Spokane and where the SustainableWorks model began (here are some projects underway there). The focus of the meeting will be next steps in SustainableWorks’ application for some of the $8.5 million in recovery dollars being designated over the next two years for energy efficiency improvements. The proposal aims to complete 4,800 retrofits. But the 4,800 retrofits also come with some other ambitious goals:

    • 200 direct full-time jobs
    • 100 apprentice positions and direct employment pathways for disadvantaged constituencies
    • 40,000 tons of annual carbon emission reductions
    • $40 million in construction work ($20 million each year)

    If SustainableWorks is successful it will truly be a model for the region on how to create green jobs, improve energy efficiency and reduce climate changing emissions.