Bellingham Waterfront District Energy Utility
Bellingham, Washington, USA

Partnering with the Port of Bellingham to provide the Downtown Waterfront District with low-carbon energy.


The Client

The Port of Bellingham (Port) is a multi-purpose government entity focused on economic growth opportunities throughout Whatcom County, Washington. In recent decades, the Port has taken an aggressive role in cleaning and restoring Bellingham’s waterfront, including the redevelopment of the Downtown Waterfront District.

The Opportunity 

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

The Solution

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, heat recovery from sewers as well as Puget Sound Energy’s adjacent power generation facility (Encogen), air source 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 in buildings and requires mechanical equipment to meet stringent efficiency and performance standards. 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 Waterfront Condominiums by Harcourt Developments are the first buildings to connect to the system with a planned in-service date of October 2023, with Mercy Housing’s affordable housing development expected to connect shortly after in February 2024. Future planned projects for the Waterfront District include a hotel and conference centre, and additional residential and commercial space.

bellingham 3The Energy System

The Corix Energy Centre is designed to be modular and scalable to match the development schedule. Phase 1 will provide heating and cooling to 200,000 square feet of residential new construction (Waterfront Condominiums) via three prefabricated modules with 1.5 MWt of heating capacity and 380 tons of cooling. Low-carbon energy will be sourced from building cooling loads and industrial waste heat recovery. As new buildings are constructed and new low-carbon technologies become available, the Energy Centre will be scaled with additional capacity, ensuring equipment and capital are deployed on an as-needed basis.


bellingham 1

Banner photo courtesy of Harcourt Developments


Floor Area Served

1.5 million sq. ft. of residential and commercial development at build-out (2033)

System Overview

  • A modular and scalable Energy Centre that will grow with the development
  • Phase 1 includes a 280 ton evaporative cooler, 1.1 MWt natural gas condensing boilers, and 400 KWt heat-recovery chiller

Type of Partnership

Corix Ownership (Design, Build, Finance, Own, Operate, Maintain)

Source of Low-Carbon Energy

Waste heat recovery, building-to-building energy sharing

GHG Savings

2,376 tCO2e / year (at build-out)