Seattle's green star is on the rise

Christina Williams is the editor of Sustainable Business Oregon.

Christina Williams is the editor of Sustainable Business Oregon. 

The color wizards of Pantone announce a color of the year around the holidays. I have no real insight into how they make their selection, but I always get a kick out of seeing what they pick and speculating about what color trends say about society.

In case you missed it: The color of the year for 2013 is emerald.

You probably know Seattle's nickname is the Emerald City and it occurs to me that 2013 might be Seattle's year when it comes to achieving sustainability goals at a citywide level. What I'm wondering is if Portland is going to start to lose a bit of its green reputation to our neighbor to the north.

Consider the following:

As we've reported over the last year or so, Seattle handily eclipsed Oregon in building the first multistory office building built to meet the envelope-pushing Living Building standard. The Bullitt Center is nearing completion and has adopted the tagline, "the greenest commercial building in the world."

• Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn in December became the first mayor in the U.S. to take on divestment in fossil fuels, sending a letter to the city's two major pension funds and asking them to "refrain from future investments in fossil fuel companies and begin the process of divesting our pension portfolio from those companies." He began the effort in front of cheering crowds gathered to hear Bill McKibben when he launched his "Do the math" tour in Seattle in November.

• Also in December, Seattle began a major effort in urban agriculture, investing $427,000 to add 185 community garden plots and 14,500 square feet of land dedicated to large tract gardening. The move is part of the city's Seattle Food Action Plan designed to strengthen the local economy.

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