Policy Brief: Washington State

Washigton State benchmarking and disclosure requirements for commercial buildingsOn May 8, 2009, Washington Governor Chris Gregoire signed into law SB 5854, also known as the Efficiency First bill. Focusing on energy efficiency in the built environment, the bill requires commercial building energy rating and disclosure, major improvements to the state energy code, and energy performance standards and retrofits (if necessary) for public buildings. The bill also requires the state to recommend a methodology to rate the energy performance of homes. The benchmarking provisions are based on proposals from the Washington Climate Action Team, which convened in 2008 to develop recommendations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Washington. The statewide program is augmented by an annual benchmarking policy for commercial buildings in Seattle.

Key Provisions

SB 5854, modeled after AB 1103 in California, requires owners of nonresidential buildings larger than 10,000 SF to rate their buildings using ENERGY STAR software and disclose that information to prospective buyers, lessees and lenders prior to the closing of a transaction. Utilities are required beginning Jan. 1, 2010, at the request of a building owner, to automatically upload energy consumption information for a building into ENERGY STAR software. Initial compliance is being phased-in from 2011 to 2012 according to the following schedule:

              • Jan. 1, 2011 for buildings 50,000 SF and larger
              • Jan. 1, 2012 for buildings 10,000 to 49,999 SF

For public buildings, the requirements are more stringent. State agencies must rate public facilities greater than 10,000 SF and disclose benchmarking data by July 1, 2010 to the state General Administration (GA), which will make the information public. A preliminary energy audit is required for buildings with an ENERGY STAR rating less than 50. If that audit identifies cost effective energy savings, an investment grade audit is required by July 1, 2013 and cost-effective measures must be implemented by 2016.

Additionally, state agencies may not sign a new lease or a lease renewal in a privately owned building with a Portfolio Manager rating of less than 75, unless certain energy efficiency measures are utilized. The provision is modeled after a federal requirement on the U.S. General Services Administration enacted under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.


Document Library:

See all of our Washington State-related documents here



SB 5854 (2009)

Regulation governing uility data acces (2009)

Energy Star Benchmarking for the State of Washington (2010)


WA General Adminiatration's green building program webpage

Benchmarking FAQ for Washignton State agencies, colleges & universities

Better Bricks (Commercial building initiative of the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance)