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Energy efficiency refers to the use of practices or technologies that allow the same or greater benefit to be derived from using less energy than is used for conventional practices. Energy efficiency reduces operating costs as well as the environmental impacts associated with energy production.



Utility Bill Tracking


Whatcom County tracks electric and natural gas bills on a monthly basis. This enables the County to find savings by identifying building inefficiencies and billing errors.

Energy Efficiency in County Buildings

Whatcom County focuses on energy efficiency to save money and benefit the environment.  Projects that the County has focused on include:

  • Lighting retrofits (see section below)
  • The installation of variable-speed fans for the HVAC system at the Courthouse
  • A full re-commissioning of the County Courthouse and Jail
  • Office heating temperatures were slightly reduced
  • Employees have been asked to monitor lighting, computers, and personal appliances
  • In some of the smaller facilities, the installation of high-efficiency furnaces and on-demand hot-water heaters

Below you can find the cost saving results of energy savings actions on nine of the County's larger consuming facilities from 2000 to 2010.


Lighting Specific Upgrades
T8 T8 T8

According to the Energy Star web site, lighting in an office building uses 25-30% of the energy requirements for that facility. Lighting retrofits can reduce those energy requirements by up to 50%. These retrofits save a substantial amount of money each year in utility bills. In addition, Puget Sound Electric provides grant funding for up to 50% of retrofits, which creates a payback period of only about three years.

What is a lighting retrofit? In most cases we are referring to switching out the old T12 lamps and ballasts with high efficiency electronic ballasts and T8 lamps. These 4-foot lamps are referred to by the diameter of the lamp tube by 8ths of an inch. T12 lamps are 12/8, or 1 1/2 inches in diameter, and T8 lamps are 8/8, or 1 inch in diameter. Compared to T12 lamps, T8 lamps provide an improved fluorescent light output, a longer life and a better color quality.

Whatcom County has conducted lighting upgrades in the following buildings:

  • Bellingham Senior Center
  • Central Shop
  • County Courthouse
  • Civic Center Annex
  • Disposal of Toxics Facility
  • Facilities Management
  • Ferndale Senior Center
  • Forest Street Annex
  • Health Department (Girard Street)
  • Jail Work Center
  • Northwest Annex
  • Plantation Rifle Range (the indoor pistol range)
  • Public Safety
  • Roeder Home
  • Whatcom County Animal Shelter

Visit Washington State's Energy Efficiency Webpage to learn how to make the lighting in your office or home more efficient:

Community Energy Challenge

In 2009 Whatcom County was awarded funding from a federal Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG). Click here for details.


A portion of the Block Grant is being designated to the Community Energy Challenge. The Community Energy Challenge is leveraging EECBG funding from Whatcom County, The City of Bellingham, and the City of Ferndale (coordinating on behalf of the six smaller cities) to be used for a community wide loan program for residential and commercial energy efficiency retrofits.  Sustainable Connections and the Opportunity Council are managing the Community Energy Challenge in partnership with the County, the City of Bellingham, and the City of Ferndale. 

This program offers resources for energy efficient improvements to commercial and residential facilities by reducing barriers to implementing energy efficiency technology and by training a workforce to implement building improvements.

Sustainable Connections and the Opportunity Council have created a “one-stop shop” for property owners to get assistance to develop and implement energy efficiency projects in their buildings. Visit the Community Energy Challenge web site for more information:


Green Power

Green Power

Green power is a term that refers to what are considered to be non-polluting or renewable energy sources. These renewable enery sources include geothermal power, wind power, small-scale hydropower, solar power, biomass power, tidal power and wave power.

Whatcom County facilities are powered 100% by alternative energy sources. By purchasing over 6 million kilowatt hours of Green Power through Renewable Energy Credits, Whatcom County is supporting the generation of and adding clean renewable energy to the national electricity grid.