March 16, 2005

Danish expert here Friday to help Seattle turn greener

Journal Staff Reporter

Jayson Antonoff started International Sustainable Solutions to get people talking about how to make Seattle a more sustainable community.

One of the people who helped turn Denmark from an oil-dependent country into an energy exporter will be in Seattle Friday to talk about how that country did it.

After the oil crisis of the 1970s, Denmark decided to rethink how it produces and uses energy.

Svend Auken is a member of Denmark's parliament and a former minister for energy and the environment. He will speak Friday night at an event being organized by the city of Seattle and International Sustainable Solutions, a company founded by a local couple, Jayson Antonoff and Patricia Chase. Antonoff and Chase and their son spent a year there and got used to a lifestyle where most people walk or bike, and where public transit is well-designed and easy to use. "Running errands was painless," said Antonoff.

Six months after returning to Seattle and the gridlocked traffic, Antonoff, a researcher and engineer, wants to know, "Why are we still doing things this way? How can we be so stupid as to allow ourselves to get boxed into a corner?"


He and Chase created International Sustainable Solutions to bring some of Seattle's developers, designers and public officials to see Scandinanvian-style sustainability. Initial tours went to Denmark and Sweden. More tours are being planned to Australia, Germany and Brazil. Bringing speakers like Auken to Seattle is another way to start the conversation here about how to make this region more sustainable.

Among the sponsors of Friday's event are three Seattle real estate development companies: Vulcan Inc., Gregory Broderick Smith Real Estate and Unico.

Antonoff said ISS is bringing Auken here because he made a deep impression on those who heard him speak on the ISS tour of Denmark last year.

Jim Duncan, Sparling's chief executive officer, was on that tour. He is bringing 20 architects and developers to hear Auken on Friday.

"I'm so excited about it," he said. "We can learn how they went about convincing people and landowners to install wind farms."

Antonoff said he's starting to realize that there are barriers to creating something similar in Seattle.

Auken to talk
at Meany Hall
Svend Auken's talk, "Take Charge with Sustainable Energy," will be at Meany Hall on the University of Washington's Seattle campus at 7 p.m. Tickets are $7 or $10 at the door. See

One barrier is figuring out who's going to pay to put in expensive infrastructure, such as a combined heat and power plant. It may be twice as efficient as what's used today but the price tag doesn't seem justified under the model now in use.

Nitze-Stagen & Co. President Kevin Daniels also joined the Denmark tour last year.

Building operators there are required to submit a green report each year, he said, detailing energy use and efficiency. That information is made public, creating a kind of peer pressure for companies to do better.

Daniels said, "I'd like to see that in Seattle right away."