Vibrant. Wild. Teeming with marine life. Over time, our once-rich, one world ocean has been devastated by human actions—actions that continue to place our own future at risk. There’s a clear first step: halt further damage. But together, we can go beyond that to restore what’s been lost. In a word, regenerate.  

As we reimagine a 21st-century Seattle Aquarium, we’re guided by our regenerative plan. Our Ocean Pavilion will invite millions to learn about how we can all restore ocean health. It will support our growing work to bring back healthy populations of endangered marine species. And it will model next-generation, sustainable urban design. Beginning with the new Ocean Pavilion and continuing with the planned revitalization of our current buildings, we’re targeting ambitious sustainability standards. Let’s explore how.

Inspired by nature, aspiring to a higher standard

The Ocean Pavilion is the first building owned by the City of Seattle to target Living Building Challenge Petal Certification, exceeding the City’s green building requirements (LEED Gold). Worldwide, we’re the first aquarium to pursue this standard.

Sustainable, thoughtful and inclusive design

The Ocean Pavilion will operate 100% fossil fuel-free, with an operational goal of net-zero carbon. The building will recirculate 96% of the saltwater in its habitats, saving water and energy, with no water directly returned to Puget Sound. The new building will be part of our Aquarium-wide zero waste goal.

Infographic representing 100% fossil fuel free options, 96% of the building's saltwater recirculated, zero waste by 2025.

An eco-conscious true north

Design choices throughout the Ocean Pavilion align with our values:

  • Building heating and cooling and animal life support systems that share energy and recover heat from one another; this technology will use 91% less energy than traditional heating and cooling systems
  • Sustainably sourced Alaskan yellow cedar exterior, recognized as Forest Stewardship Council-certified, procured from an Indigenous-led company
  • Windows that stream natural light, reducing the need for artificial lighting
  • Minimizing materials that harm the marine environment
  • Low-carbon concrete

Since 2020, the Aquarium has offset more carbon than it emits.

To further our regenerative journey, we’ve collaborated with Evergreen Carbon to identify and invest in carbon offsets that give back to people, communities and the environment. One example is the Rimba Raya Biodiversity Reserve Project. Implemented in collaboration with local communities in Indonesian Borneo, the project meets all 17 of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals and is triple-certified

Rendering of The Reef habitat in the Ocean Pavilion, with guests looking into a large window looking into a habitat filled with fish and other animals.

Accessible from top to bottom

  • An inclusive exhibit experience—created in collaboration with experts at the Institute for Human Centered Design—for visitors of all abilities, supporting sensory and access needs
  • A multimodal, ADA-accessible pedestrian pathway that enables movement between Pike Place Market, Overlook Walk and the waterfront, featuring gently sloping ramps and a green, rooftop public open space, with an elevator front and center

Regeneration without boundaries

Our regenerative focus extends to restoring lost marine biodiversity. 

Currently, our team is co-designing and co-implementing conservation projects with partners and communities around the world, including a program to rear and return the endangered pinto abalone to its original home in the San Juan Islands and Strait of Juan de Fuca. This once-abundant marine snail declined by 97 percent from 1992 to 2017. We rear baby abalone in our nursery, and our divers release juvenile abalone each spring. The Aquarium’s expanded facilities will advance this important project.

We’re also collaborating on ReShark—a global coalition whose first project focuses on restoring endangered Indo-Pacific leopard sharks to their home waters in the Coral Triangle. Once abundant in the Coral Triangle, these sharks are now nearly extinct due to overfishing and habitat loss. A small number of Indo-Pacific leopard sharks will make their homes in the Ocean Pavilion. We’ll breed these sharks and contribute eggs to the ReShark effort to help replenish wild populations.