Habitat for Humanity in Whatcom County

Sustainability and Resilience

Sustainability & Resilience

As we at Habitat for Humanity work to build a world where everyone has a place to call home, we are also building sustainability and resilience for our homebuyers and our planet. From the long-term durability and sustainability of our homes, to the methods we use to build and repair, as well as our work recycling, upcycling and reusing at our Habitat Store.

While bracing for the impacts of climate change, it is important that we save what we can, and do our part to mitigate the human suffering that is inevitable with so much change. The people we serve live in substandard conditions, and most often in vulnerable areas, and so are most likely to impacted by extreme weather. 

This is where our commitment to building resilience for our homebuyers ties into the crucial work of building resilient homes and communities.

Climate Conscious Construction

Over a decade ago we built our first Habitat Passive home. By borrowing techniques from the Passive House movement, we are able to combine the highest possible degree of energy efficiency with easy-to-teach construction methods.

These methods include air-to-air heat exchange, advanced insulation, triple-pane windows, and creating a miniscule air-exchange rate. The result is a home that can be warmed with a hairdryer in the winter, and stays cool in the hottest summer days. 

Along with the Habitat Passive design, we are always looking for ways to provide more solar power to the homes we build. All of these methods not only add to the sustainability of our homes, they also mean extremely affordable energy bills for our homebuyers.

Working in Floodplains

It is our commitment to be a Habitat for all of Whatcom. To bring affordable housing to all communities in our county because all communities need it. This means building homes in Everson, Sumas and Nooksack, all of which sit in the Nooksack River Floodplain.

In addition to using the climate conscious construction methods described above, we also plan to build our Mateo Meadows community in Everson in such a way that it will be unaffected by future floods, even as the future holds the potential for an even more catastrophic flood than the one in 2021.


Our first step in doing so is to raise the building sites one foot above the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) during site preparation and grading. This means that, were the community already established during 2021, not only the homes themselves, but also the driveways and community lawns would be a full six inches above the surrounding floodwaters.

Our second step will be to pour the slab foundations another foot above the grade, meaning that the homes themselves will be a full 2 feet above the BFE. We are also taking the extra precaution of running ducting and electrical through the attic to minimize damage.

Neighborhood Revitalization

Beyond building homes, our Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative focuses on the importance of improving and maintaining affordable housing.

We are expanding our involvement with the communities we build in to ensure these communities are prepared for, as well as recovering from climate catastrophes.

Through a partnership with Whatcom Long Term Recovery Group, we have worked on homes in Everson, Sumas, and Deming that remained in disrepair following the November 2021 flooding of the Nooksack River.

In the future, we plan to further expand our neighborhood revitalization efforts. Only by coming together as a community and lending a hand to those of us in need can we hope to build a climate resilient Whatcom County.

Reusing, Recycling, and Upcycling at the Habitat Store

Everyday we process hundreds of used donations at our Habitat Store, resulting in well over a 1,000 tons of hardware, housewares, furniture, books, clothes, and much more, being diverted from landfills each year.

Not only do we give these donated items a second chance by selling them at an affordable price to our community, we are also deeply committed to the proper disposal of unsellable items. By properly sorting cardboard, rags, scrap metal, wire, and wood, we now profit from our waste — which means more money going to building affordable housing here in Whatcom County. To Learn more about the store that builds homes, click below.

Recycling at the Build Sites

We are just as committed to reducing unnecessary waste at our construction sites, and seek out opportunities to reuse and recycle materials as often as possible. We use Lautenbach Recycling Containers (who generously donate the daily fee) on site to reduce the amount of building materials going to landfills.

We also reuse materials when we can, as is the case with the home we have deconstructed in Sumas. In the process of tearing down non-bearing walls, we attempted to preserve the structure of as much lumber as possible. The lumber has since been moved to the Telegraph Townhome site where volunteers are slowly chipping away at the task of pulling nails from the 2x4s so they can be used in a future project. All of the metal and electrical wiring from the home will be taken to the store for recycling for profit.

Additionally, we try to use environmentally friendly building materials such as GreenSheen Paint, a recycled paint product which is sold in our store, in the interiors of the homes we build.

There are many ways to bring affordable housing to our community, and every hand makes a difference.

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