Green Building Incentives

Sustainable development is at the forefront of our City’s goals. We were the first city in Washington State to offer a solar panel permit exemption program, and we also offer a variety of credits, fee reductions, exemptions and more that support sustainable development in our community.  

Save more than $2,000 with Solar Power Incentives

Bellingham created the first solar panel building permit exemption program in Washington State, in which we eliminated building permit and engineering requirements for nearly all residential solar installations. The cost of solar panels is also excluded when determining permit fees for non-residential buildings. Program participants can save more than $2,000 in fees and get an expedited, two-week permit review.

For details, contact the Planning and Community Development Department at or 360-778-8382. You can also learn more about our solar power programs here.

Support for New Technologies 

The City has proactively identified and pre-approved certain advancements in green building technology. This program allows you to plan ahead with new green technologies, so you can implement the latest sustainable techniques without worrying about project delays. Learn about special credits and exemptions, help protect the local environment and streamline your project!

Innovative technologies and techniques include:

  • Advanced Framing (PDF): You might qualify for an expedited, 7-day permit review, along with special assistance from the Green Project Review Team.
  • Amended Soils (PDF): You might qualify for special flow-reduction credits
  • Composting Toilets (PDF) and Waterless Urinals (PDF): As part of the Voluntary Metering Program (VMP) you could qualify for a flat water bill rate of $28.23 a month, regardless of how much water you use. This incentive is available through the Public Works Department for single-family residence homes.
  • Solar Water Heating Systems (PDF): You might qualify for a federal tax credit of 30% of the system’s cost, along with a partial reduction or exemption from state sales tax.
  • Roof-mounted Photovoltaic Solar Panels (PDF): You might qualify for a federal tax credit of 30% of the system’s cost, a state sales tax exemption or reduction, and state incentives based on the total number of kilowatt-hours of electricity generated between July 1 and June 30 (or the closest regular billing cycle) of the following year.  

 You might qualify for a 50% reduction in stormwater development charges if you implement:

Let us know if there is a new technology you’d like us to review!

Learn more about local incentives by contacting or 360-778-8300.


  • Built Green Whatcom CountyA certification program sponsored by the BIAWC for residential building projects.
  • Community Energy ChallengeA one-stop shop for energy efficiency! Sign up for a home assessment, learn about incentives, and get connected with a contractor.
  • LEEDA certification program sponsored by the US Green Building Council for new construction (residential and commercial) project.
  • Sustainable Connections’ Green Building and Smart Growth Program  works with local government, building industry professionals and community members to promote healthy, durable, efficient, and environmentally responsible homes, neighborhoods and workplaces through education, technical assistance and advocacy.


  • Cascadia Green Building Chapter is the regional site for the Northwest Chapter of the USGBC. This objective of this site is to provide an accessible roadmap for sustainable building. This site includes resources such as; books, LEED materials, regional resources, green building fact sheets, green posters, LEED AP study materials and information on past and future workshops and presentations.
  • Energy Star Program is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy helping us all save money and protect the environment through energy efficient products and practices.
  • Green Tools by King County, created by the Solid Waste Division, serves as a resource for information on green building certification programs, guidebooks for residential remodeling, construction recycling, deconstruction techniques and a green building evaluator.
  • King County Gr​een Remodel Guides covers common remodeling topics, giving helpful hints on materials and strategies to create a home that is healthy, saves money, and is easy on the environment. The guides are available in PDF format.
  • Tree Protection on Construction and Development Sites outlines the best management practices for tree protection in the Pacific Northwest.
  • USGBC: The United States Green Building Council  is a non-profit organization that certifies LEED development projects and is dedicated to expanding green building practices including LEED Neighborhood Design. (LEED ND)