Numbers don’t lie – Seattle’s tree canopy declined over 2% in five years

Washington Native Plant Society has several chapters all over the state. Learn more at

Save Seattle’s (and other King county) parks with free training program

A report just out and reported on in the Seattle PI “Report: Tree canopy declining in Seattle’s parks and forests“, by LARRY LANGE, SPECIAL TO SEATTLEPI.COM struck close to home for me. I became a native plant steward the year before the first survey listed in this report. To know that 10 years later things are sliding backwards faster than volunteers and city employees can keep up is disheartening.

Although I KNOW I made a difference in the green space I stewarded for over a year – because I walk thru it 10 years later and it looks better than when I started (and the people who came after me who helped) it is still frustrating that hundreds of people bust their butts and sweat buckets in pouring rain and blazing sun and we’re losing ground. But I am an eternal optimist (otherwise how could I stay a real estate broker, right?). Fortunately the Washington Native Plant Society managed to get funding for another native plant steward traiing in King county in 2011. The application deadline is April 10th, so don’t wait. Interviews are on April 15th.

I trained to become a Native Plant Steward 10 years ago and it was free in exchange for 100 hours of my time over the following year managing a specific green space of my choice. Every person in the training took on a space somewhere in a community near them and did direct work and organized volunteer work parties. You too can get involved to save our parks. I really enjoyed my training, it gave me great skills. I never regretted the time commmitment, I really made a difference in the 3 acre greenspace adjacent to Longfellow Creek just east of Chief Sealth Internationanal High School. I walk my dog there now and take pride in starting restoration in this area after volunteering and doing work with the Westwood Neighborhood Council, the community where this park resides.

I report on this training program every year it is available, hoping to spread the word further that such a thing exists to help those who are passionate about plants and parks. It’s clear it has become extremely important to make a difference now, before it is too late!

Apply to train to become a Native Plant Steward

Training takes place beginning April 29th, at Camp Long and Pritchard Beach April 29 thru July 9, Fridays 8:30 am to 4:30 pm for 10 weeks. It is serious training that will make you fluent in plants and trees and managing volunteers and how to tackle projects. Everything you need to be successful to save our forests and make a huge difference by also utilizing large groups of volunteers is available to you for free.

Real estate groups organize Japan relief efforts

I have family living in southwestern Japan, in Munakata City, about 800 miles from the nuclear disaster site. They reported towards the end of last week that they are starting to see scarcity of food and supplies in their own region because people living there are buying things to send or take to the more affected areas. I think living on an island would be very difficult. I have a cousing on the USS George Washington, in Yokosuko near Tokyo. After the quake he still had power at his apartment in Tokyo but since all of the transportation has been shut down I think he’s staying on the ship. He is not leaving Japan, and in yesterday’s Stars and Stripes (news by and for the members of the military) had an article that stated their evacuation was completely voluntary (for families iiving on base and nearby). The Stars and Stripes has a page dedicated to the Earthquake Disaster in Japan. So I have been able to get some information through other channels than just the media. It is very difficult for them, they have lived there for 33 years and they have friends they can’t get ahold of and don’t know if they are alive or not. Hopping in your car and driving towards the disaster zone probably is not a good idea (although occasionally may be difficult to resist getting involved in finding your friends).

World Vision collecting donations for Japan reliefIn an article today (Inman News), ANDREA V. BRAMBILA reports that since the 9.0 magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami in Japan some real estate groups are organizing relief efforts for the country’s short- and long-term needs.

From the Inman article,

The National Association of REALTORS® has recommended four organizations it believes are “well equipped” to provide disaster relief services. These are AmeriCares, Habitat for Humanity International, UNICEF-USA and World Vision.

NAR reports that some members have received “scam e-mails from organizations, some calling themselves real estate associations, purporting to collect money for Japanese tsunami relief.”

Related to the Seattle area,

The Seattle-King County Association of REALTORS®, the official NAR Ambassador Association to four nationwide real estate associations in Japan, is accepting donations by mail and online [via PayPal] to The REALTORS® Environmental Council (TREC) for long-term relief projects in the country, including those devoted to rebuilding and shelter.

“TREC will identify suitable relief projects in consultation with our affiliated real estate associations in Japan. Once the appropriate and qualified projects are identified, TREC will forward 100 percent of the donations we receive,” the association said on its website.

You can click “Give Now” on the right to donate immediately to World Vision.

Click to read the complete article Real estate groups organize Japan relief efforts

What makes a building green? Rain gardens, “shade shelves”, and solar panels (VIDEO)

Wendy Hughes-Jelen (, Westside Green Living with Wendy on Facebook) shows viewers two green features of a LEED Platinum rated building in her neighborhood, “High Point Center” built and owned by Neigborhood House, a social service agency serving Seattle Housing Authority residents in the area. Rain gardens help filter and manage roof runoff, and “shade shelves” above windows allow for passive solar gain in the winter but shades windows in summer due to the changing angle of the Sun.

Image of what the solar arrays on the roof look like (artist’s rendering courtesy

Neighborhood House artists rendering of solar panels

Video of the photovoltaic panel system being installed on the roof of Neighborhood House in High Point

Today’s required reading – standards for mortgage originators

Courtesy of MSN Real Estate

A few years back, regulators finally got their wish in establishing some streamlined federal standards for mortgage originators, replacing and complementing an existing patchwork of state regs. Here’s how one element of those standards — the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System ( — can help consumers who are seeking a loan.

Read the Story

TONIGHT (March 17th) City of Seattle Hosts Open House on Building Energy Rating and Reporting Ordinance

City of Seattle Department of Planning and Development

For immediate release March 15, 2011

Contact: Rebecca Baker, City Green Building

City of Seattle Hosts Open House on Building Energy Rating and Reporting Ordinance

(Seattle, WA) — The Seattle Department of Planning and Development is hosting an open house this Thursday, March 17, for building owners and others interested in learning more about the City’s building energy benchmarking and reporting ordinance. Partner organizations will be on hand to share resources available to help building owners lower energy use and costs.

The Open House will take place from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the Bertha Landes Room at City Hall on 600 5th Avenue. Presentation will be provided at 5:30 p.m.

Energy used in buildings accounts for almost 26% of the greenhouse gas emissions produced in Seattle. Much of that energy goes wasted because buildings aren’t as efficient as they could be. As a result, many building owners and tenants are spending far more on energy than necessary.

The City aims to help owners and tenants reel in energy use and costs, and reduce their environmental impacts, and has a number of green building and energy efficiency programs and policies in place. One such policy is the Energy Disclosure Ordinance, passed last year, which requires commercial property owners to annually measure and rate — or “benchmark” — the energy performance of their buildings and provide these ratings to interested buyers and renters. The legislation puts in place a process whereby utilities will upload complete energy consumption data to a single common record for each building owner via an automated process, eliminating one of the biggest challenges owners have faced when trying to understand how their building is performing.

“This program will provide building owners with easily accessible information on how their buildings are performing compared to industry norms to guide their energy efficiency investments,” said Jayson Antonoff, Energy Disclosure program manager. “Tenants, buyers and lenders can also use this information when considering where to buy, lease or invest in a space similar to how consumers consider MPG ratings when buying a car.”

Benchmarking is a standardized way for owners to evaluate a building’s energy use. Many Seattle building owners already benchmark their properties using a free, online benchmarking tool from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency called Energy Star Portfolio Manager — the same tool that the city is requiring all owners to use.

“Benchmarking has been the biggest boon to track exactly what properties are spending on energy and be able to share this with our clients and show them what upgrades can be made,” said Dave Low, director of sustainability practices for Kidder Mathews, a commercial real estate firm that manages 300 buildings in the Puget Sound area. “This has helped building owners lease and sell their buildings.”

Open house attendees will learn about the many programs, rebates and other financial incentives available to help owners improve building efficiency.

“We welcome the opportunity to take part in this important event to help Seattle property owners improve building energy efficiency,” said Glenn Atwood, City Light’s conservation resources director. “There are many programs, services and financial incentives available to owners to help lower energy use and cut operating costs. City Light experts are available to help our customers find ways to start saving today.”

Exhibitors include:
• Seattle City Light
• Puget Sound Energy
• Seattle Steam
• City Green Building
• 2030 District
• Integrated Design Lab
• Seattle Climate Partnership
• Northwest Energy Efficiency Council
• NEEA/BetterBricks
• Community Power Works
• South Seattle Community College

For more information, contact Rebecca Baker: 206.615.1171;

Longfellow Creek Legacy Trail connects neighborhoods and educates on the subject of “watershed” (VIDEO)

Today’s video!

Wendy Hughes-Jelen (, Westside Green Living with Wendy on Facebook) shows viewers one of the “gateways” to the Longfellow Creek Legacy Trail that marks the path in several locations along the approximately three mile trail that begins at the restored Roxhill Wetland in Westwood (at the southernmost border of the city limits on the Westside) and the Duwamish River, the mouth of which is near Nucor Steel Mill and the West Seattle Bridge. The gateways were carved by local artists and feature much of the natural life in the area (flora and fauna). There is an informational kiosk here with a map showing other features along the trail and where this location is (about the middle). High Point is above Longfellow Creek by quite a ways, but it makes sense for the trail to go thru this neighborhood since it makes up 10% of the “watershed”, the storm water and roof runoff that is shed by the landscape and flows downhill to Longfellow Creek. High Point is a 120 acre Built Green Certified master planned community designed specifically to manage runoff issues to reduce flooding downstream. Longfellow Creek is one of only four remaining “salmonid” (salmon bearing) streams in the city of Seattle.

Energy Efficiency Accounting – federal green jobs training money makes it to Washington

Just a bit of personal news –

On Monday I was accepted into a federally funded green training program for “energy efficiency accounting” to address energy usage in commercial and MultiFamily buildings. 16 hours of training including time with Energy Star’s proprietary program for this purpose, and I’ll be done by the end of March.

This is considered a “skills upgrade” and I am in the first group in WA state being trained. Out of 15 people, I am one of only two women.

I look forward to adding this energy audit service to my real estate business model! I make it my professional goal to serve as a resource to anyone who wants to learn more about reducing their carbon footprint – whether it’s by what kind of light bulb you use, how you eat, what you drive, even what lotion you put on your face.

Stay tuned for more information as I go through this program and learn more great stuff!

Note: there are several different green jobs/training programs now making it down to unemployed or underemployed workers. I was forwarded news about this opportunity from a friend who is currently receiving state unemployment benefits. Otherwise I would never have found out about the training opportunity. Check with your local WorkSource center to find out these sorts of things that are not being advertised to the public at large.

Please VOTE for our house to be Evening Magazine’s filming location on Monday morning

Thank you West Seattle Blog for helping us in our campaign to have King 5’s Evening Magazine filmed at our home in High Point Monday morning. We live in a Built Green Certified community and home in West Seattle and want every opportunity we can get to help promote healthy homes and living! They had a nice post on their page for us and so far we have 63% of the votes! Please go vote for us!

On their Facebook page West Seattle Blog said

“When Evening Magazine asked for suggestions, High Point homeowner Wendy Hughes-Jelen was the first to raise her hand and volunteer. She’s also mom to the onetime CityDog cover dog Sophia the Italian greyhound, former foster parent to the Kitty Cornered kittens, and plays in Belles and Beaux, among other things. So vote for Wendy’s house!”

You can vote below or follow this link: