Our Work

Shift Zero facilitates coordinated action among members and allies to answer a core question: how do we advance an inclusive vision of zero carbon buildings for all Washington State residents? Advocate leaders, policy experts, and building industry professionals work together on Shift Zero Teams to develop and advance strategies for building decarbonization in Washington State. Across all efforts, an overarching objective is to ensure building decarbonization policies and programs are equitable so that the benefits reach communities most impacted by climate change.

Recent Successes

  • Statewide Building Performance Standard: Shift Zero members helped educate policymakers to support the 2019 first-in-the-nation state policy to require an energy performance standard for large existing commercial buildings, along with early adopter incentives. In 2022, an expansion of this policy was adopted for smaller commercial buildings and multifamily buildings, furthering the impact of this policy.
  • Financing for Commercial Energy Efficiency Projects: Our work also supports enabling policies including new financing tools such as Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy and Resilience (C-PACER). Members of Shift Zero led extensive stakeholder engagement to help enable C-PACER financing in Washington. As of July 2022, seven counties have passed ordinances to start C-PACER programs, representing some of the most populous counties in the state. More on C-PACER can be found here.
  • Funding for Low-Income Retrofits: In 2022, Shift Zero members partnered with Washington’s Community Action Agencies to successfully advocate for $10 million in additional funding to ramp up the state’s Weatherization program that provides retrofits for low-income households.
  • Local Action to Decarbonize Buildings: Bellingham, Seattle, Shoreline, Tacoma, and Olympia all have passed resolutions and/or ordinances in the past two years that transition away from fossil fuel use in buildings. Shift Zero developed a Zero Carbon Buildings Policy Toolkit to assist municipalities in crafting and implementing building sector incentives and policies. 
  • Nation-Leading Energy Code: In 2022, Washington adopted the most climate-friendly commercial and residential energy codes in the nation. Shift Zero was the central place for strategic outreach and coordinated advocacy in support of these progressive codes, which require heat pumps for space and water heating in nearly all new commercial and residential buildings.

Current areas of focus include:

  • Energy Code. Ensuring the recent energy code update proceeds as planned with implementation in 2023, and supporting development of existing building decarbonization codes. 
  • Existing Buildings. Addressing existing homes and buildings and leveraging funding streams at the state, local, and utility levels that will be necessary to do this work. Prioritizing low income communities, workforce development and economic inclusion in the existing buildings policies and programs will be essential. 
  • Building Performance Standards. Continuing to support implementation of the state’s building performance standard for large buildings, and supporting additional local action to develop support programs and directly address carbon emissions from buildings.
  • Education. Strengthening public awareness about the benefits of efficient, electric homes and buildings, through BuildElectricWA.org and our member organizations’ communications efforts.
Featured Image: zHome | Issaquah, WA
Architect: David Vandervort Architects | Builder: Ichijo USA
Project Partners: City of Issaquah, King County, Built Green, Puget Sound Energy, Port Blakely Communities, and WSU Energy Extension
Photo courtesy of zHome
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