Green briefs

City fleet earns ‘green’ certification

Mercer Island is one of four local city fleets to become the Puget Sound region’s first certified “green” fleets through the Evergreen Fleets program. The other fleets include the city of Seattle, King County and Snohomish County.

The New Evergreen Fleets program sets a standard for environmental performance. It is a voluntary, tiered certification program that recognizes fleets for making smart, environmentally responsible choices that save fuel, improve operational efficiencies, and reduce air emissions. It is the first green fleet certification program of its kind in the nation, and was created by the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency and the Puget Sound Clean Cities Coalition in collaboration with a consortium of public fleet managers.

“Evergreen Fleets sets rigorous benchmarks for fleet performance, awarding one- to five-star ratings for fleets based on the best practices and green fleet technologies they have adopted,” said Dennis McLerran, executive director of the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency. “This program isn’t just about retrofitting tailpipes, but rather recognizes fleets for making systemic changes in how they do business. The result? More efficient fleets, less pollution, and added savings for fleets.”

Mercer Island received a one-star rating. Through its fleet greening efforts, Mercer Island has begun “right-sizing” its aircraft and has implemented fleet maintenance software to help improve the efficiency and performance of vehicles.

“As a small jurisdiction, it is exciting to receive recognition for the work we are doing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Mercer Island City Manager Rich Conrad. “Together with other jurisdictions in this region — and someday across the nation — we can truly make a positive impact on the environment.”

The city of Seattle earned a four-star rating for its green fleet efforts, which include a highly effective green vehicle purchasing policy, having a dedicated Green Fleet Coordinator, and achieving greenhouse gas emission reductions of 13 percent in just one year.

Snohomish County and King County both received a three-star rating.

DOE will tweet burn-ban alerts

The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) is now providing alerts and updates on air quality issues. Ecology uses the social media tool Twitter to help inform people about burn bans during the home-heating season, which started Oct. 1.

Some households use wood stoves and other devices to heat their homes when temperatures drop. But poor burning habits and old, inefficient devices produce large amounts of wood smoke — one of the main air pollution problems in Washington. Ecology and local clean air agencies can issue burn bans when pollution caused by fine particles in smoke reaches unhealthy levels.

How burn bans work

When fine particle pollution reaches unsafe levels, Ecology and local clean air agencies can call countywide burn bans in their jurisdictions. These bans protect people’s health by limiting wood burning in those areas.

The 2008 Washington Legislature approved stricter air quality health standards to match new federal standards adopted in late 2006. The stricter standards better protect human health. This means that Ecology will likely call more burn bans than in the past in its Central and Eastern Washington jurisdictions.

Burn ban stages

Stage 1 burn bans are based on weather conditions and rising pollution levels. No burning is allowed in wood-burning fireplaces, uncertified wood stoves or uncertified fireplace inserts, unless it is your only source of heat.

Stage 2 burn bans are called when fine particle pollution levels reach a “trigger value” set by state law. No burning is allowed in any wood-burning fireplace, wood stove or fireplace insert, unless it is your only source of heat. Violating a burn ban could lead to penalties, including fines.

During Stage 1 and Stage 2 burn bans, all outdoor burning is also banned, even in areas where outdoor burning isn’t permanently banned. The bans include agricultural and forest burning.

You can follow Ecology tweets by going to

You can find information on burn bans at:

Mountains to Sound Greenway gets $50,000 grant from Boeing

The Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust has won a new $50,000 grant from the Boeing Company to help cities and towns along Interstate 90 grow sustainably.

“We realize growth is going to happen but our region can do it in the most graceful way possible,” said Cynthia Welti, Greenway Trust Executive Director. “This new grant will help us help even more communities with their specific needs.”

The Greenway stretches more than 100 miles along I-90 from Puget Sound to Central Washington, encompassing towns, cities, farms, natural habitats, historic sites, parks, lakes, rivers and mountains. The Greenway Trust works with municipalities on market-based strategies – such as the transfer of development rights, conservation easements and land acquisition – to preserve those treasured assets as towns plan for growth and development.

In addition to the $50,000 grant, Boeing provided a $10,000 sponsorship for the annual Greenway Days festival. The June event encourages people to enjoy and explore the many treasures in the Greenway.

New partners in Eastside rail corridor project

The 42 miles of unused railroad right of way that parallels much of I-405 will be shared by many users.

The Port of Seattle will be joined by several local agencies in preserving the Eastside Rail Corridor and placing it in public ownership. King County, Sound Transit, the City of Redmond, Puget Sound Energy, and the Cascade Water Alliance will partner with the port in maximizing the corridor’s benefit for the region.

The six partners signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on Thursday that outlines the components of the plan. The governing boards of each organization must also authorize the negotiations. The port’s acquisition of the corridor is scheduled to close Dec. 15.

“The port’s goal has always been to help place the corridor into public ownership,” said Port of Seattle CEO Tay Yoshitani. “It would be impossible to recreate a similar asset today, and we need to protect it for the region’s citizens. We’ve formed a consortium that ensures the best use of the property for the future.”

The 42-mile corridor stretches from Snohomish to Renton, with a short spur that goes through the city of Redmond. The Port of Seattle will maintain freight service between Snohomish and Woodinville. King County and Sound Transit will acquire rights in the southern section between Woodinville and Renton. The southern portion of the track will be preserved for dual transportation and recreation uses under the federal rail banking program. King County intends to develop a bike and walking path along portions of the corridor.

“The diversity of the partnership demonstrates the value of this corridor to the people of this region,” said King County Executive Kurt Triplett. “This once-in-a-lifetime investment will improve the region’s quality of life, creating a legacy for generations to come.”

“Putting this corridor in public ownership supports Sound Transit’s upcoming East Link light rail construction and other possible long-term transit investments in the corridor,” said Sound Transit CEO Joni Earl. “Sound Transit’s interest is to protect needed right of way for the future.”

Regional utilities Puget Sound Energy and Cascade Water Alliance will negotiate easements for their facilities and services along the corridor – easements that are crucial for future service and growth.

For a copy of the MOU and other details about the rail corridor, visit

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