Photo: Joe Wolf/Flickr
Before global warming and Seattle’s record-breaking new construction boom, there was very little reason to install central air conditioning in this city. Pacific Northwestern summers were once relatively cool and new apartment buildings didn’t have to razzle dazzle to stand out. They were exceptional just for being one of the rare new buildings in the region.
Now, much like rooftop decks, gyms and dog play areas, A/C has become an attractive amenity for tenants choosing between a variety of competing new buildings. As the Seattle Times described, many landlords have entered a sort of “amenities arms race” to distinguish their properties above the rest.
With newcomers from warm places like California, Texas and New York, there is now often an expectation that apartments will have air conditioning. Seattle isn’t heating up as quickly as other cities, but there has been an increase in temperature over the years. Last summer was 2 degrees hotter than average here, while 2015 was the hottest summer on record in Seattle, beating out the old highs set in 2014 and 2013, reports the Seattle Times.
According to Census statistics, only 6 percent of all rentals in the Seattle metro area had central air conditioning before the last decade — the lowest rate for any major region in the country. But 25 percent of apartments constructed so far this decade in greater Seattle now have central A/C. That’s a four-fold increase.
For comparison, in the United States, 86 percent of apartments have some kind of air conditioning. It’s 55 percent in the Portland region and 27 percent in the San Francisco area, but only 21 percent in Seattle, making us the least air conditioned city in the country.
Stay cool, Seattle.