Environmental Strategies

Project Size

The Waterfront District is one of the largest contaminated property redevelopment projects in the United States and one of the most significant salmon habitat restoration efforts in Puget Sound.  

Environmental Cleanup

Most of the Waterfront District is built on tidelands which have been dredged and filled to support over 100 years of heavy industrial activity.  Many portions of the site are affected by soil, groundwater and/or sediment contamination caused by historic releases of hazardous substances.  Bringing this environmentally compromised land back to productive use is essential to meet the community vision for the Bellingham's downtown waterfront.  There are six-state listed cleanup sites within the Waterfront District.  The Washington State Department of Ecology is the lead agency responsible for the overseeing the cleanup projects.  For more information on the status of these sites, click here.

Habitat Restoration

The Waterfront District will support Puget Sound salmon recovery efforts by restoring several miles of urban shorelines, removing creosote pilings and unnecessary overwater structures, improving nearshore connectivity, and building more than four acres of new shallow habitat benches, which offer food and protection to juvenile salmon. Human activities and the natural environment will be balanced through design solutions that integrate shoreline habitats into mixed-use urban redevelopment.

While salmon recovery will ultimately require all causes of decline to be addressed, the Waterfront District redevelopment project will restore critical salmon habitats and serve as a Puget Sound model for how urban development can be carefully balanced with intricate human-nature interactions. View additional information about habitat restoration.

Sustainable Strategies

Designing and building an economically, environmentally and socially sustainable waterfront is a key objective for the Waterfront District.  In 2011, a portion of the Waterfront District was certified as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) for Neighborhood Development Silver plan. This program integrates the principles of smart growth, new urbanism, and green building and benefits communities by reducing urban sprawl, increasing transportation choices, decreasing automobile dependence, encouraging healthy living, and protecting threatened species.