College of the Environment Graduate and Undergraduate Publications

Alternative title

LEED neighborhood and development assessment: the alleyways

Date Permissions Signed


College Affiliation

Huxley College of the Environment

Date of Award

Fall 2010

Document Type

Environmental Impact Assessment

Department or Program Affiliation

Department of Environmental Studies


Environmental Studies

First Advisor

Abel, Troy D.


Bellingham is a vibrant city nestled amid the Northwestern Cascades in close proximity to Canada, surrounded by vast agricultural flood plains, rolling foothills and striking snowcapped peaks. A crown jewel of the Pacific Northwest, Bellingham attracts people from across the country for a spectacular quality of life, higher education and a unique sense of community available only there. Needless to say, the population in Bellingham is projected to grow in the coming decades. By 2022, Bellingham is expected to grow over 50%, by almost 30,000 people, adding to the current population of 76,100 (COB, 2009), creating a significant impact on the municipality and metropolitan areas. (Population Growth Forecasts) Faced with a greater demand for land and services, municipalities of the future must seek innovative ways of meeting this growth without falling into the present urban paradigm of greater city sprawl. Space is becoming limited, farmland is being pressed by development and warnings of global climate change call for a radical shift in infrastructure. City planners, community leaders, developers, politicians and citizens are facing the difficult reality of finding ways to develop urban areas in revolutionary new ways. Boiled down into its most basic tenants, this new horizon is best described as sustainable urbanism, "walk-able and transit served urbanism integrated with high performance buildings and high performance infrastructure". (Farr, 2008) Drawing from building movements like new urbanism, smart growth and green building, sustainable urbanism is a synthesis of the classic environmentally friendly growth with other pressing social concerns like economic disparity, vehicle dependent communities, un-equitable neighborhood patterns and pedestrian safety. Urban renewal projects are an opportunity to gain experience reaching the needs of a community both environmentally and socially. Downtown Bellingham is going to be the site of a major urban development in the near future that will add a great deal of community appeal for Bellingham residents and commercial real estate. This project is a major retrofit of the Cornwall corridor, the heart of Bellingham's central business district. Large retail outlet is going to be placed on either ends of the project boundaries and the alleyways that run parallel to the main streets will be renovated. The goal of this project is to increase capacity and attractiveness of the central business district, using the principles of smart growth, new urbanism and sustainable building technology as they are synthesized in the current 2009 LEED Neighborhood Design rating system. Designed by the U.S. Green Building Council as an industry standard system to measure and rate Green building projects, LEED rating systems have evolved to provide a voluntary and objective measure of a project's sustainability. Instead of designing and building the urban environment with a variety of Euclidean land uses that require extensive automobile connection to function properly, LEED standards help build mixed use communities that are designed and built to function self-sufficiently. Sustainable urbanism takes a more holistic approach to design, leading to the construction of healthy communities that encourage non-motorized transportation, mass transit and close proximity of everyday amenities. Bellis Fair Mall in Bellingham is an example of a Euclidean use, automobile-dependent development, which resulted in the loss of economic activity downtown. Renovating the Downtown through LEED standards will effectively shift much of this retail activity from Bellis Fair Mall to a new urban village downtown, reducing automobile dependence and enhancing the livability of the downtown corridor. Our job as a sustainable growth consulting firm is to evaluate Bellingham's potential for urban renewal based on the LEED-ND 2009 Rating System. This analysis begins with evaluating the current Cornwall revitalization proposal previously presented, through the LEED checklist. This project will focus on the alleyways that run parallel to Cornwall, the surrounding infill and building renovation. By doing this, we will be able to establish the potential for LEED certification of the existing plan and identify areas that can be improved upon to achieve a higher rating. Our alternative action will take the initial proposal a step further by evaluating potential solutions that can be utilized to meet more of the LEED requirements. As an academic consultation team, our mission is to bridge the gap between builders, government planners and the concerned public by evaluating the LEED-ND as a sustainable growth tool. We are confident that prejudice concerning environmentally sustainable growth can be met with practical methods for reducing environmental harm, efficiency thresholds and habitat restoration, providing the public with intelligently designed community space that will benefit us all.




Community development, Urban--Environmental aspects--Washington (State)--Bellingham, Environmental impact analysis--Washington (State)--Bellingham, Bellingham (Wash.)--Environmental conditions


Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subject – LCSH

Community development, Urban--Environmental aspects--Washington (State)--Bellingham; Environmental impact analysis--Washington (State)--Bellingham; Bellingham (Wash.)--Environmental conditions

Geographic Coverage

Bellingham (Wash.)




environmental impact statements




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