State and Local Building Efficiency Regulations & Policies: Washington, D.C. Metro Area

In this series, we’re exploring state and local building efficiency regulations to give you a bird’s-eye view of the policies that may impact your portfolio.

As the old saying goes, “Think Global, Act Local.” 

Nowhere is this more evident than in the many states and metropolitan areas around the U.S. that have developed climate action plans to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions, even in the absence of more sweeping federal legislation.

Many of these regions are highly urbanized, so it should come as no surprise that commercial building efficiency is often a key focus area within these plans. Building emissions contribute to approximately 40% of carbon emissions in the U.S., and many state and local regulators have focused on incentivizing improvements to building efficiency as a means of lowering emissions and showing leadership on climate change. 

One common method is to establish efficiency requirements for building owners. These requirements can involve things like: tracking, reporting and benchmarking building energy consumption; conducting regular energy audits; introducing efficiency standards that go above and beyond pre-existing building energy codes; and, more recently, targeting net-zero energy for new construction projects.  

Learn more about how Aquicore makes it easy to collect the energy data needed to comply with local, city, and state benchmarking regulations.

We’ve rounded up the key building energy requirements, policies, and plans for the Washington, D.C. metro area.

State / City / CountyNameType of Regulation / Policy / InitiativeDescriptionEffective Date
District of ColumbiaThe Clean and Affordable Energy ActEnergy BenchmarkingCommercial buildings and multifamily buildings over 50,000 square feet are required to annually benchmark and publicly disclose energy usage data using ENERGY STAR.2009
District of ColumbiaGreen Building ActEnergy Efficiency (New Construction / Major Renovation)New construction and major renovation buildings, (10,000 square feet or greater for district-owned and 50,000 square feet or greater for commercial) are required to be designed to achieve an ENERGY STAR score of 75 as determined by the ENERGY STAR Target Finder tool.  These buildings must report and track usage in Energy Star Portfolio Manager.2006
District of ColumbiaClean Energy DC PlanNet Zero Energy (New Construction)All new construction must achieve net-zero energy beginning in 2026.2026
MarylandMaryland High Performance Buildings Act (S.B. 208)Energy Efficiency (State-Owned Construction and Major Renovation Projects)State-funded capital construction or major renovation projects must achieve at least a silver rating under the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED green building rating system or a comparable numeric rating on an approved and nationally recognized system.12008
District of ColumbiaClean Energy and Omnibus ActEnergy Efficiency (Existing Buildings)All existing buildings over 50,000 square feet must meet an energy efficiency threshold or to improve their performance by 2026. The threshold is based on the local median ENERGY STAR score.22019
District of ColumbiaThe Clean and Affordable Energy ActEnergy BenchmarkingCommercial buildings and multifamily buildings over 50,000 square feet are required to benchmark and publicly disclose energy usage data using ENERGY STAR.Amendment to begin in January 2021
District of ColumbiaGreen Building Act of 2006Energy Efficiency (New Construction and Major Renovation)New construction and major renovation buildings (10,000 square feet or greater for district-owned and 50,000 square feet or greater for commercial) must be designed to achieve an ENERGY STAR score of 75 as determined by the ENERGY STAR Target Finder tool. These buildings must report and track usage in ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager.2006
VirginiaSenate Bill 963Energy Benchmarking (State-owned buildings)State-owned buildings greater than 5000 feet must benchmark their annual energy and water use using the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager tool. State agencies are also required to benchmark 5% of the building starting in 2021 and reach 100% by 2025.32020
VirginiaSenate Bill 963Energy Audit (State-owned buildings)For all state-owned buildings greater than 5000 feet, energy managers must identify priority facilities for energy audits and performance contracting beginning in 2021.2021
City of Rockville & Montgomery County, MarylandOrdinance 09-16 (Rockville)
Building Energy Benchmarking (Montgomery County)
Energy BenchmarkingAll county-owned nonresidential buildings and privately-owned nonresidential buildings more than 50,000 square feet must track and report their annual energy in ENERGY STAR. Reported utility data must be verified by a recognized Data Verifier 1X / 3 years. Benchmarking data will be publicly disclosed. 2016
1. A major renovation is considered to be any project that has a scope of 7,500 square feet or greater; reuses the building shell for the new construction; and involves the replacement of the HVAC, electrical, and plumbing systems.
2. Alternative pathways will be available for buildings unable to meet the threshold.
3. Utility accounts must be connected to the state ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager master account.

Key Sources: