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Green Building Policy

In partnership with local government, Sustainable Connections' Green Building & Policy programs have helped to advance green building support for incentives across Whatcom County.  One important focus is to streamline green building policy and reduce barriers associated with permitting sustainable building concepts, design strategies and projects that promote efficient construction techniques.

City Center Master Planning

Starting in 2011-2012, Sustainable Connections will help the City of Bellingham, The Downtown Bellingham Partnership and other key partners to design and formalize a Sub-Area Plan for the Downtown core district.  We're working to identify and remove barriers to redevelopment, incentivize sustainable development and determine what is and isn't working well downtown.  To view that ongoing process, see here.

Green Bin-Bump Up

Through the support of Sustainable Connections, the City of Bellingham's Permit Center implemented a program titled "BinBump Up" to encourage and support green building projects by reducing building permit review time for certified green projects and assigning them to a new Green Project Review Team. 

  • Projects that qualify for BuiltGreen 4&5 Star or LEED Gold equivalent will be bumped to a seven-day review
  • Technical Assistance provided from City Green Review Team
  • Integrated Review from City staff 

See all the City of Bellingham's Green Development resources here.

The TEN in '10 Initiative

Through industry wide success in implementing the FIVE/12 Agenda with the City of Bellingham, the Planning and Community Development (PCD) Green Team, Public Works, Building Services and Planning Department staff in conjunction with Sustainable Connections have identified a number of tasks to be incorporated into the Green Team Strategic Plan for 2010.  This collaborative effort is called the Ten in '10 Initiative.

1. Green Building bin bump-up pilot
2. Construction Waste Recycling pilot
3. Green code adoption
4. Transportation Mode Shift Incentive 
5. Subject-to-field-inspection permit
6. Sustainable water management program
7. Green Roof Initiative
8. Compilation of public/private utility incentives
9. Staff training for review and inspections of green building methods
10. Advanced Materials and Methods (AMM)

TEN in the news...

Bellingham's first expedited green home - Bellingham Herald, August 27, 2010

Ten Green Building Initiatives in 2010 - BBJ Today, June 4, 2010

Faster permitting for green projects - Bellingham Herald, April 24, 2010


Whatcom County "Quick Permit"

In an effort to speed up issuance of building permits, Whatcom County has developed an expedited permit process.  Over the counter permits announced for: 

  • Waterless urinals
  • Roof mounted PV solar panels
  • Solar water heating systems
  • Energy Challenge projects
  • Geothermal mechanical  installations

Whatcom County is taking steps this year to elevate green building and low impact development strategies to the forefront of the Building Department.

Learn more about Quick Permits!


The FIVE/12 Agenda

Five over 12 was an initiative created to significantly increase the application of green building practices by responding to the perceived barriers and collaboratively solving problems. In early 2009, Sustainable Connections facilitated the development of a comprehensive list of barriers and possible incentives with extensive input from the City, County and private industry. The City, eager to implement solutions, committed to working to achieving five success stories over the 12 months of 2009, hence Five/12.  A quick snapshot of those five incentives here.

512 Exec Summary

Green Building Incentives & Barriers Summary

This report was created in conjunction with the City of Bellingham and Sustainable Connections’ FIVE/12 Green Building Incentive Program, which intends to reduce green building barriers by creating at least five tangible green building incentive success stories by January 2010. View the full FIVE/12 Executive Summary here.


 Advanced Methods and Materials (AMM)

AMM 100

AMMs reflect clear guidance on permitting requirements for common green building techniques. They are developed jointly by the City of Bellingham Building Department, Public Works and Sustainable Connections and encourage innovative policy to help streamline green building.  Significant progress has been made to promote advanced uses for proven green building practices.  View the full list of permitted methods & materials:

100 Energy

200 Water


300 Low Impact Development


400 Materials


Government Resolutions

Led by a forward thinking government, both the City of Bellingham and Whatcom County have made commitments to LEED.  The City of Bellingham requires LEED Silver rating for the construction of all new and renovated publically funded buildings while Whatcom County launched NW Washington's first "fast-track" permit review process.


The Policy Team

The Sustainable Connections green building & policy experts are currently pursuing additional green building resource and incentive solutions.  Feel free to email the Green Building or Policy team with any questions, comments or creative inspiration.

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