Bellingham, Wa Goes Green!

by : Eric Badgely

At the 2007 Green Power Leadership Awards, the city of Bellingham, WA was named the "Green Power Partner of the Year". These awards are sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and the Center for Resource Solutions (CRS); their purpose is to recognize individuals or companies supporting the development of renewable electricity sources.

This recognition was the result of a 2006 community-wide challenge to increase Green Power purchasing by 9 megawatt hours or 2% of the city's electrical usage. The campaign was so successful, the final total for Green Power purchased was 40,000 MWh or 11% of the city's electricity load. Bellingham was named the #1 EPA certified Green Power Community in America and was awarded a 2040-watt solar electric power system.

The entire area supports this important initiative; Western Washington University has already been purchasing 100% Green Power since 2005, and in 2007, the Bellingham City and Whatcom County Councils voted to purchase 100% Green Power for government operations, and over 100 businesses have enrolled to begin purchasing reusable power. This combined overwhelming response has resulted in a 40% reduction in power rates.

The Bellingham community definitely walks the talk when it comes to supporting a sustainable environment. They rank 11th in the nation for its sales of compact fluorescent light bulbs. In addition, Whatcom was the first county to offer curbside recycling.

Sustainable Connections, a local nonprofit organization, promotes all aspects of sustainable practices, including the following:

  • Implementation of a Green building program with local builders and the local government

  • Education through various events designed to promote public awareness events and the availability of Green resources and guides.

  • Promotion of sustainable business development by encouraging the support of local businesses.

  • The creation of various programs in support of local food growth. They have already offered apprenticeships to 23 new organic farmers to encourage local development in this area.

For a community of just over 75,000, Bellingham remains a shining example of what can be accomplished when everyone works together towards a common goal.