King County GreenTools Connects Cities for Sustainability

It's a common story that resonates with many local governments: plunging building permits, shrinking budgets, hiring freezes and overworked staffers who are charged with driving sustainability initiatives — such as encouraging green building — with little support. The story is no different in King County, Wash., the state's most-populous county and home to Seattle and 38 other cities. But King County's green building program, GreenTools, has helped its cities overcome those obstacles through encouraging collaboration across jurisdictions.

American City & County's November issue features an article highlighting King County's Sustainable Cities program to help cities maintain and enhance their green building efforts, especially those with limited resources.

Sustainable Cities' peer-to-peer networking forum — the Sustainable Cities Roundtable — is proving to be one of its most catalyzing efforts. The informal monthly gatherings, which started in 2009, bring together the people who are charged with creating and implementing sustainability initiatives to learn from one another, receive free training from experts and share ideas and resources. One of the cities established a formal green building program in 2008 and used the roundtable and technical assistance from King County to grow its program as it simultaneously prepared for an annexation that doubled its population to 81,000.

This year, six roundtable cities formed the King County Cities Climate Collaboration to enhance a range of regional sustainability efforts and eventually to set county-wide greenhouse gas emission goals. King County's Sustainable Cities Roundtable and the Cities Climate Collaboration that was born from it are based on the notion that collaboration is an effective motivator for change...