news-iconLocal News: Built Environment

Below are sustainability-related news items throughout the Western Washington University and Bellingham-area. These items correspond to Built Environment.

Communal living minimizes carbon footprint

March 12, 2015 |
The Western Front
Nestled in the fields of rural Missouri, the entire Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage uses only 10 percent of the resources used by an average American. The 280-acre planned residential community produces its own solar and wind power needed to run and rent is $200 a month, according to the Dancing Rabbit website. Its 62 members eat food either grown directly on site or purchased from local, organic co-ops. Ma’ikwe Schaub Ludwig, executive director of Dancing Rabbit Inc., is coming to Bellingham to show how fewer resources doesn’t mean living anything short of a 100 percent life. Ludwig will be sharing her experience of sustainable living within the Missouri-based Dancing Rabbit intentional community as a part of a larger national tour 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17, at Explorations Academy at 1701 Ellis St.

Her talk will focus around three main topics: How the Dancing Rabbit operates sustainably, the importance of cooperative culture and the urgency of climate change. Ludwig’s father was an ecologist, so she has always had a heightened environmental awareness. She was teaching composting classes and advocating for climate change when she was 20 years old, and thus began her journey into living more sustainably, she said. “When I visited some friends living in an intentional community, I saw that people living there actually found a way to embody the values I was talking about and advocating for,” she said. Since then, she has lived in seven different intentional communities and has been an environmental educator game for the past 25 years. The Dancing Rabbit has been her home for the past eight years, which she calls a “special sweet spot” between reality and idealism.

KAPOW! Making spaces into lively places

January 5, 2015 |
Sustainable Connections
With the help of local partners, Sustainable Connections is hosting a Placemaking Competition to transform underutilized spots in Downtown Bellingham with YOUR idea for a lively destination that builds a stronger, healthier community. We are asking you to design a “tactical urbanism” project that enhances our Downtown vitality.

The goal of the competition is to engage our community in designing inexpensive, individual projects that make small places more lively and enjoyable. These design ideas should help to reflect our unique community identity, attract people, activate inactive spaces, provide amenities and promote people's health, happiness, and well-being. Winning ideas will be selected based on their creativity, innovation, potential to be realized and social impact.

Pilot project provides students with sustainable, energy-efficient room

May 8, 2014 |
Western Today
A residence in Buchanan Towers is showcasing modern sustainability practices demonstrating ways to cut energy and water consumption in one’s daily living.

In the winter of 2012, two Campus Sustainability Planning Studio students wrote a report on how to include energy saving technologies and practices into Western’s residence halls in efforts to reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions. In the Spring of 2013 two students used information from that report and then applied for, and were awarded a Sustainable Action Fund to modify a Buchanan Towers room, into the Sustainable Energy Efficiency Dorm Pilot room.

Downtown wins national award

April 8, 2014 |
The Western Front
Bellingham’s downtown was recognized as being the eighth best in the nation by, a travel and leisure website.

Livability’s “Top Ten Best Downtowns 2014” featured downtown Bellingham, spanning 249 acres with nearly 2,400 residents and about 7,500 employees, as a model city for sustainability and strong local community.

Western puts down roots in hydroponics

February 10, 2014 |
The Western Front
Western Washington University students from last year’s Environmental Stewardship class are exploring an often overlooked frontier in agriculture: hydroponics, an indoor method of growing plants where roots are submerged in a water-based nutrient solution.

The students are working to set up a demonstrative hydroponic system to display in the first-floor study area of the biology building by Friday, Feb. 28, to educate Western about this clean, alternative method of producing food.

Alumnus recognized for sustainable deconstruction

February 7, 2014 |
The Western Front
Western alumnus and graduate from Huxley College of the Environment Dave Bennink’s company, Re-Use Consulting, placed third at the Sustainability Leadership Award at Sustainable Seattle, on Friday, Jan. 31.

Re-Use Consulting was recognized at the award ceremony for its efforts to find sustainable ways to take apart buildings and use the resources that would typically go to landfills, Bennink said.

Arboretum pathways come full circle

February 4, 2014 |
The Western Front
The dank smell of freshly upturned soil fills the air, and the sound of clanging shovels and axes echoes through the lush forest. The sun’s rays shine through clouds and the tree canopy onto a team of busy volunteers carving out a new trail through nature.

Volunteers with Western Washington University's Western Wilderness Trail Corps began work on a new trail in the Sehome Hill Arboretum Sunday morning, Feb. 2, a project which will continue until spring quarter.

Bellingham college's $4.5 million fisheries building completed

November 13, 2013 |
The Bellingham Herald
BELLINGHAM - A grand opening celebration Saturday, Nov. 16, will mark the completion of the new $4.5 million Perry Center for Fisheries and Aquaculture Sciences and the public and private donors who helped Bellingham Technical College replace its worn-out fisheries building.

Patricia McKeown, president of Bellingham Technical College, called the public-private support the "real exciting part" of the project.

October a tribute to trees in urban spaces

October 22, 2013 |
The Western Front
Twinkling blue and white lights decorate the sequoia giganteum tree outside of Edens Hall at Western Washington University. Slackliners utilize the trees on sunny days and the trees on Western's campus contribute to the oxygen humans breathe.

While some may take the trees for granted, October is the official month to appreciate those plants vital to Western's way of life.

Architect Bert Gregory to speak at WWU Oct. 14

October 11, 2013 |
The Western Front
Western Washington University's Department of Design will host a lecture by architect Bert Gregory at 6 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 14, in Fraser Hall Room 4. The lecture is free and open to the public.

As chairman and CEO of Mithun Architecture in Seattle, Gregory guides an interdisciplinary practice of architects, urban designers, interior designers and landscape architects that are dedicated to positive change. He is an expert in the development of resource efficient structures and communities, and serves as a national leader and advocate for sustainable building and urbanism.

GIVE: Volunteering toward international sustainable development

October 10, 2013 |
The Western Front
After three months in Cambodia, a long dirt road strewn with massive potholes leads Mathew Geddes and Jake Allison to the airport for a flight home. They don't want to leave. They have lived with the people and experienced a culture new to them. They are filled with the insatiable longing to not only continue to be a part of something new but to do something for the greater good.

Western students pitch updates to Bellingham street

March 15, 2013 |
The Western Front
Seniors from Western Washington University's winter 2013 planning studio class presented their ideas for suggested urban developments to State Street on Thursday, March 14.

The students presented their ideas to members of the community, city planners and councilmembers using PowerPoint presentations in Bellingham's Federal Building Courtroom.

Frontline: Keep Western green, from top to bottom

February 1, 2013 |
The Western Front
Instead of looking at your feet when you wander about campus from class to class, look up. Right now in the rain you will probably see a bunch of dripping gutters.

Now imagine you looked up and saw a garden. Western has been working on developing and installing green roofs, like the one on top of Miller Hall. This green roof earned a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, gold certification from the US Green Building Council in 2011.

Bellingham approves $46M spending plan for sidewalks, pedestrian crossings

August 12, 2012 |
The Bellingham Herald
BELLINGHAM - Over the next two decades the city will strive to build 14 miles of new sidewalks at an estimated cost of $46 million, according to a new plan.

City Council has approved a plan that will guide future spending on pedestrian crossings and sidewalks. The plan is the city's first that focuses on one method of transportation. Next up: a plan for bicycling.

Environmental Studies Building to get new roof

August 1, 2012 |
Western Today
A project to re-roof the Environmental Studies Building on the Western Washington University campus was recently funded and will begin in August. A contract is still being negotiated.

According to Facilities Management records, the Environmental Studies roof has needed replacement since 2003. Funding is now available to proceed with the work, which includes abatement of the existing asbestos-containing roof material.

Miller Hall gains gold LEED certification

July 27, 2012 |
Western Today
The renovation of historic Miller Hall at Western Washington University has been awarded Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.

LEED certification is a green building rating system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED certification provides independent, third-party verification that a building project is environmentally responsible.

Miller Hall was awarded gold certification. LEED certifications range from basic certification to the Silver, Gold, and Platinum rankings.

Solar observatory atop waterfront's Technology Development Center will help forecast peaks and lulls in solar and wind energy

July 18, 2012 |
Western Today
BELLINGHAM – Western Washington University has joined a network of West Coast universities providing sensor data that will help forecast peaks and lulls in solar energy generation.

The first phase of an innovative instrument cluster has been installed on the roof of the Technology Development Center (TDC) on Bellingham's Central Waterfront; its data will be used to improve our ability to forecast the availability of renewable energy resources.

Urban Transitions Studio presents planning study on Bellingham's "Downtown Edge Corridor"

July 17, 2012 |
Western Today
Western Washington University's Urban Transitions Studio presented the Bellingham Downtown Edge Corridor Planning Study at City Hall in March.

This year's Urban Transition Studio Project examines redevelopment opportunities for the downtown Bellingham core, a planning area located along the downtown's largely neglected "southern edge corridor" which divides downtown and the former Georgia Pacific industrial zone. Students formulated redevelopment concepts to integrate the edge corridor into the downtown framework and provide a transition to the future waterfront area.

Students design green dorm

March 2, 2012 |
The Western Front
Western students will propose a sustainable and energy efficient dorm pilot program that would push Western closer to having no effect on climate change.

If approved, Western students Rafael Gonzales and Tristan Sewell would work to get items such as energy efficient lights, low-flow faucets, power meters and new appliances installed in a test room. They hope the test room would be in the older section of Buchanan Towers, as the new section already has many of these upgrades.

Western working to increase energy efficiency on campus

January 13, 2012 |
Western Today
Western Washington University is beginning a utility efficiency and improvement project in 21 academic buildings, the Wade King Student Recreation Center and four residence halls that will cut down on rising energy costs and lead to significant utility savings over time.

The utility improvements will include lighting controls, energy efficient lamps, insulation in attic spaces, HVAC controls, and water conservation.

Western will be utilizing a state program to finance the campus construction work, which will be paid for by utility savings. To encourage investment in infrastructure upgrades that lead to reduced energy consumption, the state established the Energy Service Performance Contracting program. Western has used this program on a small scale with very good results, and now plans the expanded utility improvements across campus.

WWU to begin nearly $3.2 million energy-efficiency work

January 12, 2012 |
The Bellingham Herald
A nearly $3.2 million project to make 26 buildings at Western Washington University more energy-efficient is expected to begin in March. The university is using a state program called Energy Saving Performance Contracting to finance the work to reduce Western's annual use of electricity, gas, water and sewer. That reduction is expected to save $227,000 to $337,000 a year - the higher amount factors in inflation through 2024 - with the savings going to repay a $3.06 million bond.

WWU to Begin Energy Efficiency Project in Campus Buildings

January 9, 2012 |
Western Today
BELLINGHAM – Western Washington University is beginning a utility efficiency and improvement project in 21 academic buildings, the Wade King Student Recreation Center and four residence halls that will cut down on rising energy costs and lead to significant utility savings over time.

The utility improvements will include lighting controls, energy efficient lamps, insulation in attic spaces, HVAC controls, and water conservation.

WWU Fall Quarter Commencement Set for Dec. 10

December 6, 2011 |
University Communications
Lauren Squires, the ceremony's student commencement speaker, is graduating with a degree in Urban Planning and a minor in Sustainable Design. She is "passionate about creating places that enable people to live well." She served as an advocate for sustainability issues while at Western, serving as Associated Students Director of Environmental and Sustainability Programs and working in Western's Office of Sustainability. The daughter of Alan and Valaree Squires, Lauren Squires grew up in Longview and is a graduate of Mark Morris High School and Lower Columbia College.

WWU Completes Major Renovation Of Miller Hall

November 3, 2011 |
Western Washington University marked the completion of a major renovation of Miller Hall with a dedication ceremony Wednesday. University spokesman Paul Cocke says the renovations included several environmentally-sustainable features, including a green roof.

Renovated Miller Hall set to open for fall quarter

September 12, 2011 |
Western Today
The major renovation of Western Washington University's Miller Hall has been completed, and the building will open for fall quarter.

The $51.5-million Miller Hall project, funded by the Washington State Legislature, renovated the 134,000 square-foot building, located on the university's Red Square. The project included renovations to general university classrooms, computer labs, instructional space, offices and support facilities for Woodring College of Education, Department of Modern and Classical Languages and the Center for International Studies. All building systems (including electrical, mechanical, data, heating and air conditioning), elevators, roofing, windows and exterior elements for the aged building were replaced.

"This significant renovation of Miller Hall, one of our campus' most iconic buildings, will result in a substantially improved educational facility and place of learning for our students," said Western President Bruce Shepard.

City remodels 3 buildings to save money, energy: Grant allows energy-efficient lights, heating, windows and solar panels

May 27, 2011 |
The Western Front
Crews began installing solar panels on the rooftop of the Lincoln Square Apartments on York Street.

The Bellingham Housing Authority received a $9.9 million federal grant to start the Green Communities Project last October. The goal of the project is to create an environmentally conscious community.

This January, the housing authority started remodeling the apartments at Lincoln Square, Chuckanut Square on 12th Street, and Washington Square on E Street. Construction workers are using environmentally friendly technology, such as solar panels, an energy-efficient water heating system, green lighting systems and energy-efficient windows.

Green Building and Design Magazine: Following Instructions

May 13, 2011 |
Western Today
(Page 97) With all the attention green design has received in recent years, it's becoming significantly harder to find examples of innovative, design-based approaches to sustainability. Often times, green structures are more dependent upon complex systems rather than creative design concepts in order to achieve performance goals. Not the case with the Western Washington University Academic Instructional Center (WWU AIC).

WWU's Urban Transitions Studio to Present Cornwall Avenue Redevelopment Plan at Bellingham City Hall Dec. 1

November 29, 2010 |
University Communications
BELLINGHAM – Western Washington University's Urban Transitions Studio will present environmental assessments of a concept for infill and alleyway redevelopment along Cornwall Avenue from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 1 in the City Hall Council Chambers at 210 Lottie St. in Bellingham.

Installation of 'Green Roof' Begins at WWU's Miller Hall

November 9, 2010 |
University Communications
BELLINGHAM – Workers are installing a "green roof" as one of many innovative sustainable features for the major renovation of Miller Hall at Western Washington University.

The green roof, the first at Western's campus, is being installed over a small roof covering the new Student Collaboration Space – where students can meet and study – being built in the existing courtyard of Miller Hall. The green roof consists of a mat system of sedum plants, a flowering plant that requires little maintenance.

Leaders put Bellingham-area business at front of green-building wave

April 18, 2010 |
The Bellingham Herald
Dylan Hicks and Jeff Mack of Bellingham Bay Builders were at the home working on interior details. Hicks, who co-owns the workers' cooperative with Dave Brogan and Ross Grier, says the business was founded on a basis of environmental responsibility and sustainability. Those criteria are far more commonplace today than when Bellingham Bay Builders started six years ago, and Hicks says it's an evolving process.