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Sustainability ‘Action’ Plan?

Spokane is desperate for sustainable solutions but may be adopting plans that aren’t feasible.


In the months leading up to City Council’s vote on adopting the Sustainability Action Plan (SAP), local housing sector leaders have published a third-party feasibility study.

On Monday night, City Council voted to approve the final draft of the Spokane Sustainability Action Plan (SAP), which will be used as a framework for meeting the aggressive environmental goals set forth by the City and the State.

Spokane has the opportunity to lead the world in the effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build a more sustainable society for future generations, but it cannot abandon common sense. We must not sacrifice our city’s affordability and economic advantages in the pursuit of cheap political wins.

ReThink Clean Energy (ReThink), together with Spokane Home Builders Association (SHBA), offers common sense solutions to environmental challenges that affect the housing sector without sacrificing housing affordability and resiliency. In this effort, ReThink recently published a study which examines the feasibility of meeting upcoming emission reduction targets.

Together we must “Do. Green. Better.”, the core value of ReThink’s work in this space.

Isaiah Paine of SHBA said, “Energy efficiency and carbon neutralization are important objectives that the whole community can get behind, builders and buyers alike. However, we must consider all the impacts of our policies, both intended and unintended. Above all, it is critical that we focus on what our community wants:  workable solutions that actually reduce carbon emissions without sacrificing resilience and affordability - none of which the SAP actually accomplishes.”

Even though council voted 6-1 to approve the flawed SAP, one lone Council Member was willing to be a voice of reason. According to Council Member MIchael Cathcart, “We need to be transparent with the public regarding the costs of implementation and the kind of results we expect to see. As a Council Member, I can’t make good implementation decisions in the interests of my constituents, the taxpayers, or our local businesses without having the actual fiscal analysis, which is rightfully required already by city code.”

CEO of Really Clean Energy, Brian Burrow, also testified at Monday evening’s Council meeting. As author of the feasibility study, Burrow says, “The plan creators took pride in the breadth and inclusivity of the SAP, referring to it as ‘the most comprehensive plan they have seen.’ I was honestly hoping to see more measurable goals with tactical solutions after two years of planning. The SAP concludes with the need for further research, evaluation, and planning. I’m happy to see sector leaders, like Spokane Home Builders Association, engaging to create a tactical roadmap to show how their sector will rise to meet the challenges ahead.” says Brian Burrow, CEO of Really Clean Energy and author of the feasibility study.

“Important topics that directly affect the City’s resilience such as necessary infrastructure, power failures, energy price increases, economic impact of executing goals within SAP, prioritization of efforts, and the challenges of heating Spokane’s older homes and buildings in subzero conditions without the use of gas were not fully addressed in the SAP and deserve further discussion and solutions.” says Burrow.

Publisher of the feasibility study, Jennifer Thomas, is driven by a need for real solutions. “Vague and unmeasurable goals are nothing more than wishes. A ‘plan’ that lacks clear steps and requires immediate further planning is a high-level guide, not an action plan.” says Thomas.

The Net-Zero Emissions Feasibility Study for Spokane Region presents one of several viable pathways for consideration where the Spokane region can achieve the desired net-zero carbon balance without a ban on natural gas, which some propose to phase-out over time through statewide mandates. Key steps outlined in the study include energy reductions and efficiency improvements in targeted sectors and improving the use of available renewable resources within the region to increase local renewable energy production.

The Net-Zero Emissions Feasibility Study is available at



About Really Clean Energy

Really Clean Energy (RCE) is an environmental consulting firm based in Spokane, Washington specializing in energy conservation, greenhouse gas reduction, and renewable energy production. Improving management of locally-available renewable resources and helping communities create a more circular green economy is our focus. RCE consults with local government, utilities, and private companies with large waste streams to design net-zero plans that reduce carbon footprint, reduce energy consumption, and replace fossil fuels with local renewable energy solutions.


About ReThink

ReThink exists to create a cleaner tomorrow by pursuing renewable energy solutions with 100 year sustainability. Together we can Do. Green. Better.

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