Climate Work

Our climate work is guided by our annual work plan, also known as the Climate Implementation Plan. The process of developing our annual Implementation Plan involves analyzing all of the measures in the City’s amended 2018 Climate Action Plan (CAP) to determine which ones to focus on each year. Greenhouse gas reduction, social, financial, environmental, and technological factors are all considered when evaluating each measure. ​​

Highlighted below are some of the projects and programs we are currently working on. A full list of the items we are working on or have completed is on on our Progress Update page. You can receive updates about our current work by signing up for our quarterly Climate News emails.

Highlighted Projects

Electrification of New Buildings

In February 2022, City Council approved an ordinance to amend Bellingham building and engery codes with a focus on electrification, efficiency, renewable energy, and specifically space and water heating which accounts for the majority of energy consumption in buildings. The changes will apply to new commercial and medium high-rise residential construction but not low-rise residential (single-family) homes, with the exception of relatively minimal solar-ready requirements. The three elements in this new ordinance are:

  1. No gas space heating and cooling, and no gas water heating
  2. Increased efficiency measures, such as better building envelopes, lighting, and insulation
  3. Solar readiness and/or solar installation requirements

Learn more about the amendments by viewing documents and media from the public hearing conducted on December 13, 2021 and the Jan. 24, 2022 Committee of the Whole meeting.

An individual adjusting the temperature of their electric space heating system.
An individual adjusting the temperature of their electric space heating system.

Improving Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure

In early 2021, the City of Bellingham received a $1.5 million grant from the Washington State Department of Commerce to be used towards installing new electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure across Bellingham. The City is contributing an additional $500,000 from its voter-approved Transportation Fund, bringing the total investment to $2 million. This project installs 90 new EV plugs distributed equitably across Bellingham on City-owned properties and public rights-of-way near destinations, workplaces, and multifamily residential areas. Installation of these new plugs began in 2022. All stations will be installed by June 1, 2023. To find updates on the project, please visit the Electrification of Transportation project page.

Electric vehicle charging
City electric vehicle plugged in to charge. Photo by Paul Conrad.

Increasing Alternative Vehicles in the City Fleet

As of November 2021, the City now has 48 alternative fuel vehicles (electric or hybrid) in its fleet. When possible, the City is choosing electric and hybrid vehicles for all new and replacement vehicles as part of its commitment to achieving the goals in its Climate Action Plan. The Public Works Department, which purchases and maintains all City vehicles, now has 18 police utility vehicles.

Read more in the November 2021 press release.

Dark blue Police SUV parked in foreground with more identical vehicles parked behind it
New hybrid Ford Escape police car on May 28, 2020. Photo by Paul Conrad.

Purchasing Renewable Energy with the Green Direct Program

The Skookumchuck Wind Farm near Centralia has been producing renewable energy on behalf of the City of Bellingham and many other partners through Puget Sound Energy’s (PSE) Green Direct program since November 2020. The City’s contract is for 20 years with the goal of purchasing enough renewable electricity generation to power most City-owned buildings. This energy project can produce up to 137 megawatts (MW) of wind energy—equivalent to powering 30,000 homes. The City’s contract with PSE will provide renewable energy to power City-owned buildings. The City is now investigating the potential of procuring renewable electricity generation for the entire community.

Skookumchuck Wind Farm near Centralia, WA. Photo by Southern Company.

Climate Action Fund Proposal

In November 2021, Mayor Seth Fleetwood proposed to City Council that the City seek a source of continuous revenue through a Climate Action Fund for achieving Bellingham’s climate emissions targets, adapting to a changing environment, and serving our most vulnerable populations first. Bellingham currently has over 150 underfunded climate action goals identified in the community-supported Climate Action Plan. Meeting these ambitious goals will require additional funding not currently available.

Learn more by visiting the Climate Action Fund webpage.

City Hall building with flagpoles in front of it.
Bellingham City Hall

Additional Projects

Find a full list of the items in the Bellingham Climate Action Plan on our Progress Update page.