Seattle Aquarium Ocean Pavilion

The Seattle Aquarium is taking a bold step to advance our conservation mission within and beyond our walls through the creation of the Ocean Pavilion. The expanded Aquarium will be an unparalleled platform for ocean conservation and serve as the magnificent centerpiece for our city’s waterfront.

Aerial view of new Ocean Pavilion and Seattle Aquarium

Today, we’re witnessing the most profound change in our planet’s ocean in the past 64 million years, and it’s happening within one human lifetime. Our generation will define what it looks like to live on Planet Earth for those who follow. Seattle can lead the way, and the expanded Aquarium will help us shed light on the urgent threats facing our ocean, mobilize a new generation of marine conservationists and create something remarkable for our city in the process.

Rendering of new Seattle waterfront Aquarium plaza and Ocean Pavilion

A respected authority on Puget Sound and Salish Sea, the Aquarium serves as the largest platform for ocean conservation and engagement in the Pacific Northwest. Through expanded partnerships and community programming we are fostering an emerging ocean ethic, increasing awareness and taking action to help preserve and protect our marine environment. The expanded Aquarium with its new Ocean Pavilion will be an unparalleled platform for ocean conservation and serve as the magnificent centerpiece for our city’s waterfront.

Sustainability is one of the core institutional values of the Aquarium. The Aquarium currently has a lower Energy Use Index than many of our peer institutions in the United States, making us one of the most efficient aquariums in the country. The new Ocean Pavilion will be LEED Gold certified. 

100% fossil fuel free building operations
  • The new Ocean Pavilion will have a 94% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from standard buildings that use fossil fuels.
  • The new public space will not use any fossil fuels.
Minimizing our carbon footprint
  • The building will eliminate boilers and rely on electric heat to reduce the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere.
  • Throughout the design process our design team also considered long-term energy use by utilizing future weather files when analyzing the heat loads on the building.
  • The project only uses refrigerants in central packaged heating and cooling equipment. Heating and cooling are distributed with water through the building.
  • By using advanced heat pump technologies for many functions, the new building will minimize its operational carbon footprint.
  • A heat recovery system will be used for the seawater pumped into the building; discharge will also be minimized.
  • The design features a semi-closed system that recirculates water and utilizes a denitrification system—this will drastically reduce our discharge volume and heating requirements (since we'll have much less water to heat).
  • The animal life support systems, which must run 24 hours a day, have been designed to allow them to share energy and recover heat from each other.
  • The heating and cooling systems will only make use of electricity. Since Seattle City Light has a clean grid and the new building will use heat pumps, it will have a small operational carbon footprint.
Smart design

The Aquarium’s team has worked to ensure we integrate design features that prioritize conservation and ocean health as well as efficient energy use.

  • The Aquarium is being deliberate in our material choices for construction of the building by minimizing plastics, vinyl, biocides and red-list materials throughout. In addition, the project team is analyzing embedded carbon in the project and making material choices that reduce embedded carbon.
  • The building will use energy-efficient LEDs throughout.
Additional documents:

The new Ocean Pavilion is part of a larger master plan, which includes improving the existing City-owned historic pier’s energy use and enhancing the facilities sustainability measures.