Sustainability is an important aspect when planning and maintaining a campus community.  Many buildings on campus are LEED certified.  Projects pursuing LEED certification earn points across several areas that address sustainability issues. Based on the number of points achieved, a project then receives one of four LEED rating levels: Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum. Building projects pursuing LEED 2009 certification must: comply with environmental laws, be a complete, permanent building, Use a reasonable site boundary, comply with minimum floor area requirements, comply with minimum occupancy requirements, commit to sharing whole-building energy and water usage data, and comply with a minimum building area to site area ratio.

Visit our Building Directory (have facilities add LEED info to  Building Directory page) to see what steps we’re taking to reduce our carbon footprint at Whatcom Community College.



Wetland protection: The category III wetland was restored as part of this project. The building was located over 100’ away, a compost berm was used during construction, and a permanent fence provides ongoing wetland protection.
Rain-gardens: These shallow depressions slow and filter storm water run-off naturally in place, minimizing flooding and impacts to local streams. The rain-gardens are landscaped with adapted plants that are attractive as well as useful.
Bio-retention swales: Similar to a rain-garden, a bio-retention swale is also a landscaped depression. While a raingarden holds storm water to infiltrate, a bio-swale conveys storm water that flows off adjacent hardscape. It also removes pollutants, minimizing demand for expensive public storm water infrastructure.

Native and adapted plantings: Plants were carefully selected to minimize irrigation requirements, provide habitat for animals, and to manage storm water naturally.

Biking infrastructure: One of the biggest greenhouse gas (GHG) impacts for a college campus is that of single-occupancy vehicles.  Bike racks and showers are provided to remove barriers to bike-riders, including staff and visitors at ASB.

Access to bus lines: ASB is within ¼ mile from multiple bus lines to minimize single-occupancy vehicle trips.
Low-emitting and fuel-efficient vehicles: Did you notice the reserved parking space for low-emitting and fuel-efficient vehicles? Preferred parking is one incentive for folks who choose less environmentally impactful vehicles.

Light pollution reduction:
The interior and exterior lighting at ASB was designed to reduce adverse effects of artificial light including light trespass, disruption to wildlife patterns, sky glow, glare, and energy waste. Lights are directed downward and automatically turned off at night.


Efficient plumbing fixtures: To reduce water use by 40% compared to conventional buildings, ASB uses super low-flow sinks, toilets, and shower fixtures.  Sinks use only X gpm, showers use X gpm, and toilets use X gpf. Sinks and toilets also have automatic controls.

Rainwater harvesting: After reducing the demand for water as much as possible, the engineers then sized an underground rainwater harvesting cistern to collect rain from the xx,000 sf roof. The concrete tank holds xx,000 gallons for landscape irrigation. The system include first-flush diverters, filters, and pumps to treat and convey the water.

No potable water for irrigation: Irrigation is often the biggest water demand for a building, which is costly and damaging to the environment. Furthermore, irrigating with municipally supplied drinking water is expensive and outdated. By carefully designing the landscape using native and adapted plant species and then harvesting rainwater for irrigation, ASB significantly reduces demand for municipally supplied water.


Effective lighting: Regularly occupied spaces enjoy views and ample natural light from windows and skylights. Exterior shading devices minimize glare and heat gain. The electric lighting scheme is 29% more efficient than conventional design. And the exterior lighting is 50% more efficient!

Building envelope: Floors, walls, windows, and roof of a building make up the “envelope.” Each of these components has an “R-value,” meaning the capacity to resist heat flow. Using highly efficient windows and extra insulation, ASB’s envelope achieves an R-value better than energy code requires.

Heating and cooling: The shop and warehouse areas use in-floor hydronic radiant heat and natural ventilation. Public spaces and offices have a highly efficient Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) system that provides both heating and cooling.  The VRF system can move excess heat from one area to another. Heat recovery is also used to capture excess heat and save energy.

Commissioning (Cx): Cx is a process of verifying that systems were installed properly and are performing as intended.  This building is fully commissioned to ensure excellent performance. The result: ASB is modeled to use 28% less energy than conventional design.

Solar panels: ASB has X photovoltaic panels on the roof, which will produce X kW per year, enough power to run X typical households.

Renewable Energy Credits (RECs): RECs were purchased on behalf of the ASB project to support the research and development of renewable energy sources, such as wind power and biomass.


Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ): Operable windows, natural daylight, and quality heating & ventilation systems all contribute to a healthy, productive indoor environment. Before occupancy, ASB passed a professional air quality test for carbon monoxide, airborne particulates, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and formaldehyde. A green cleaning program minimizes the introduction of toxic chemicals into the space.

Greener materials selection: Simple, durable, recycled, locally sourced, non-toxic, and easy-to-maintain materials were used throughout.  All paints and coatings meet stringent toxicity requirements. 20% of the materials here are recycled, and 20% are extracted and manufactured within 500 miles of the site. Shop cabinets were re-used from the previous shop space. 50% of the wood used in ASB meets Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified wood standards.

Construction waste management: 95% of the waste produced during construction was diverted from the landfill through a strict salvage, re-use, and recycling program.

Recycling and composting: The ASB is like the circulatory system of the campus. The trash compactors and compost bins for the campus are located here.

  • Energy Conservation– Renewable energy (solar panels), LED lighting, etc.
  • Water Usage– Decreased landscape watering, native/drought-tolerant plants, pesticide use policy, reduced flow toilets
  • Green Innovation– Impervious pavement (video?), green cleaning procedures
  • Waste Management– Recycling and Composting, What is recyclable/compostable?, Map of where to find compost/recycling bins on campus.






Whatcom Community College has been a leader in the area of sustainability locally and state-wide. Please see what academic groups we’re affiliated with to create a community of sustainability.

STARS: Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance. A program of AASHE for reviewing the institution’s sustainability endeavors and progress. WCC is a member of STARS and has earned a bronze rating. (Link to report or certification?)

Whatcom Smart Trips: At Whatcom Community College, we encourage you to walk, bike, share a ride, or ride the bus to work. When you make Smart Trips, you help create a clean, healthy, and vibrant community in Whatcom County.  While you’re at it, you’ll cut your stress, save money, and earn rewards. To find out more about making Smart Trips, or for help with any of the services described here, contact WCC’s Employee Transportation Coordinator (ETC), Mark Price, at mprice@whatcom.edu.

Bike parking and shelters are located throughout campus. The shelter between Cascade and Kelly Hall has a bike pump. Staff showers are located across from the break room in Laidlaw Center, LDC 108 and 109. If you are a recreation center member, you have access to lockers and showers in Pavilion. 

Whatcom Smart Trips is a partnership between local government, public agencies, employers, and schools to promote transportation by walking, bicycling, sharing rides, and riding the bus. Please contact the employee transportation coordinator for more information about the benefits of logging Smart Trips, discounted bus passes, as well as support for those making Smart Trips