Policy Brief: Washington, D.C.

Commercial buildings in DC now subject to energy benchmarking and disclosureThe Clean and Affordable Energy Act of 2008 (CAEA) was passed unanimously by the DC Council on July 15, 2008, and signed into law by District of Columbia Mayor Adrian Fenty on Aug. 4, 2008. Among other energy conservation and efficiency initiatives, the bill required for the first time in any U.S. jurisdiction that the energy performance of commercial buildings be annually rated and disclosed to the marketplace.

Roughly 75 percent of DC's greenhouse gas emissions come from buildings. Additionally, energy is the largest operating cost for office buildings in downtown DC, accounting for 32 percent of operating expenses -- 10 percent more than the next highest expense -- according to data from the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) International.

Benchmarking and Disclosure Provisions

The Energy Act requires the energy performance of public and private buildings to be rated using ENERGY STAR software and disclosed annually. This includes all commercial and multi-family structures over 50,000 SF and public buildings of at least 10,000 SF. Additionally, the energy performance of large construction or substantial renovation projects must be estimated using ENERGY STAR software and disclosed if they are at least 50,000 SF. 

Public buildings were benchmarked beginning in 2010 and disclosed thereafter via an online database (link below). Private buildings must submit benchmarking scores every year, with the size threshold phased in over time. Annual disclosure, requiring the posting of an ENERGY STAR Statement of Performance, will occur via an online database open to the public and administered by the District of Columbia.

After serious delays and revisions, the new and final deadlines are:

    • April 1, 2013 for buildings 100,000 and larger
    • April 1, 2014 for buildings 50,000 to 99,999 SF

The more complicated issue is what data to provide and when it will be made public because of long delays on the regulation's publication. Here is a handy cheat sheet that should provide some clarity to what was a long and confusing process:

DeadlineThresholdYears of Utility DataYears of Data Made Public

April 1, 2013

200,000 sf +2010-20122011-2012
April 1, 2013150,000-200 sf2011-20122012
April 1, 2013100,000-150,000 sf2012None

All the materials you will need to comply can be found on this DDOE webpage.



Document Library:

See our full list of DC-related documents


Compliance Resources:

Benchmarking Page on DDOE Website

NEW List of covered buildings (2013)

Compliance documents (including utility release forms).

DDOE's Final Draft Regulations

Benchmarking Help Center at the DCSEU (help with questions or technical issues)


Related Resources:

Results of public building benchmarking

DC Green Dashboard (tracks Energy Star buildings)

All versions, revisions, and emergency supplements to the CAEA


Other Initiatives in the DC Region

Arlington County 

Arlington County, VA

Arlington County, Va., located across the Potomac River from Washington, has voluntarily posted "Energy Report Cards" containing energy intensity data and ENERGY STAR scores for its public buildings on a web site available to the public. The site also includes case studies of some buildings. Under its Fresh AIRE program - Arlington Initiative to Reduce Emissions - Arlington County committed to reduce emissions from its own operations by 10 percent by 2012. Arlington is home to the Pentagon, Arlington National Cemetary, and the bustling commercial districts of Rosslyn and Ballston. See the web site

Montgomery County, MD

Montgomery County, Md., home of the northwest DC suburbs Bethesda, Rockville and Silver Spring, requires the disclosure of residential utility bills to prospective homebuyers prior to the closing of a transaction. Councilmember Roger Berliner was the chief sponsor of the bill, which was enacted along with six other energy and environmental bills by the Montgomery County Council on Earth Day 2008. See the Montgomery County Council press release.

   Montgomery County MD