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Sustainability an essential ingredient to Redmond’s construction success

With Redmond's residential and business communities continuing to flourish, several city-wide development projects designed to accommodate these choices are underway, including the downtown and Overlake endeavors.

Integral to bringing these new efforts to life is the city's persistent commitment to sustainable, efficient construction practices.

"Encouraging environmental stewardship — both at work and in the community — is a necessary ingredient to the way we approach our construction endeavors and to the vitality and growth of our city," said City of Redmond Mayor John Marchione. "From large-scale, long-term efforts such as our Overlake Village initiative to simple everyday choices at work, each decision we make has an impact."

Though Redmond has been lauded for its design trends and its commitment to sustainable efforts for years, the city's current construction climate, with its increased focus on efficiency, can be traced back to 2009 when the city adopted the Green Building and Green Infrastructure Incentive Program, an initiative designed to implement green development and reduce impact on carbon footprints and natural resources.

"Initially, the program was targeted towards single family residential developments," said Cathy Beam, a principal environmental planner for the city's Department of Planning and Community Development. "But we ultimately expanded it out to include multi-family, commercial and mixed-use developments."

According to Beam, the city has succeeded in tapping into a recent paradigm shift that not only encourages more sustainable efforts, but also makes good economic sense.

"Green buildings are becoming mainstream," she said. "They lease quickly at a premium price per square foot and they also sell faster than non-green buildings."

By the end of 2013, Redmond featured 16 LEED-certified projects, 14 ENERGY STAR-certified buildings and more than 1,200 BuiltGreen-certified projects — 836 of which represented six recently constructed downtown multi-family or mixed use projects.

Beam said those numbers are proof that the trend has spilled outside the traditional green avenues of incentives and special programs.

"We are noticing that most of our residential developments in North Redmond are receiving BuiltGreen certification — though they are not necessarily doing this through the Green Incentive Program," she said. "Again, it's evidence of the shift in business practices and market demand."

Marchione agrees, and thinks the old adage "lead by example" also plays a role in the city's increasing trend toward green construction.

"My hope is that this devotion to sustainable construction practices trickles down from large-scale projects to small-scale decisions that have a big impact — like getting involved in recycling programs, or turning out lights not in use, or conserving water in the home," he said. "That kind of culture change  — involving the simple, subtle efforts — is just as important as our broad, sweeping initiatives and is ultimately what truly resonates."

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