Corix’s Low-Carbon District Energy System will Provide Heating and Cooling for Bellingham’s Downtown Waterfront District


In partnership with the Port of Bellingham (Port), Corix is developing a low-carbon district heating and cooling system for the Downtown Waterfront District in Bellingham, Washington. Corix will design, construct, finance, own, operate and maintain the district energy system, which will leverage local waste heat sources and building-to-building energy sharing to provide highly efficient, low-carbon energy to over 1.5 million square feet of new residential and commercial developments.  

The 18.8-acre Downtown Waterfront District development area owned by the Port is part of the former pulp and paper mill site undergoing extensive rehabilitation and redevelopment that will expand Bellingham’s downtown and transform the formerly industrial site to a vibrant, live-work community.  

Bellingham Waterfront Energy Center graphic

District energy was identified as a key part of the Port’s Master Plan to sustainably develop the waterfront lands by employing utility system strategies that share energy, reduce carbon emissions and encourage urban densification while generating long-term positive impacts for the community.  

In 2018, the Port completed the installation of a district energy piping system along Laurel Street in preparation for future connection, and Corix was selected to evaluate the feasibility of various technologies for the system – including biomass, sewer heat recovery, heat pumps and electric boilers. Ultimately, the system will utilize a variety of low-carbon sources including industrial waste heat recovery to become the first District Energy System in North America to meet the requirements of the Washington State Energy Code 2021 as a “Low Carbon District Energy System”. This new energy code bans the use of fossil fuels and electric resistance sources and requires mechanical equipment to meet stringent efficiency and performance standards.

The Waterfront Condominiums by Harcourt Developments are the first buildings to connect to the system with a planned in-service date of October 2023.  Future planned projects for the Waterfront District include a hotel and conference center, affordable housing units, and additional residential and commercial space.

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* Photos courtesy of Harcourt Developments and Port of Bellingham

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