Evergreen Sustainable Development Standard

The Evergreen Sustainable Development Standard (ESDS) is a building performance standard that all affordable housing projects that receive capital funds through the state Housing Trust Fund program must comply with. ESDS is based on the nationally-recognized Green Communities standard created by Enterprise Community Partners, with modifications to reflect Washington State priorities and building codes. ESDS contains criteria that safeguard health and safety, increase durability, promote sustainable living, preserve the environment, and increase energy and water efficiency.

ESDS has been adopted and implemented by public funders along with the Department of Commerce, including the Washington State Housing Finance Commission, Seattle Office of Housing, and King County Housing Finance Program.

An urban rooftop adorned with solar panels and greenery, showcasing the integration of renewable energy and green spaces in city architecture

History of the Evergreen Sustainable Development Standards​

The Evergreen Sustainable Development Standard was developed to comply with  Chapter 39.35D.080 RCW. In 2005, the Legislature directed the Department of Commerce (then the Department of Community, Trade, and Economic Development) to “identify, implement, and apply” a sustainable building standard to affordable housing projects funded through the state Housing Trust Fund (HTF) program.

Twelve technical experts in sustainable development were chosen to meet and recommend the best existing green building standard to apply to HTF projects. They chose Green Communities™, developed by Enterprise Community Partners, because of its focus on direct benefit to low-income tenants, its specificity and detail about what is required, its flexibility when modified, the willingness of its creators to allow the state to own and control the standard, and its reasonable documentation and process cost. Modifications were needed to accommodate the diversity of projects funded by the HTF and to focus the criteria on building practices, codes (particularly the Washington State Energy Code, WSEC), and the climate in Washington State. The result was ESDS v1.0, published in the spring of 2007.

Subsequent modifications and corrections have been posted as issues have arisen, but the publication of entirely new Versions has been tied to the state Code cycle and the publication of new versions of the Enterprise Green Communities standard (EGC). Hence, Version 1.0 of Evergreen (which went into effect on July 1, 2008) was based on the original EGC published in 2005, modified as necessary to reflect the 2008 WSEC. This was repeated for ESDS v2 (EGC 2011/WSEC 2009) and ESDS v3 (EGC 2015/WSEC 2015), and now for v4 (EGC 2020/WSEC 2018). In each case, a panel of stakeholders, including architects, developers, funders, and providers, was convened to discuss proposed inclusions, modifications and deletions.