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Last Updated July 14, 2023

Program Overview


Regulatory Policy


District of Columbia

Incentive Type:

Energy Standards for Public Buildings



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Effective Sept. 21, 2022, DC has adopted the Clean Energy DC Building Code Amendment Act of 2022 (D.C. Law 24-177) which calls for the District to adopt an NZE building code that applies to the new construction or substantial improvement of any building subject to the Commercial Provisions of the DC Energy Conservation Code, including commercial buildings and residential buildings taller than 3 stories. Regulations for this law must be finalized by the Mayor by December 31, 2026.

Currently the District has a voluntary Net Zero Building Code that will serve as the basis for the Net-Zero-Energy standard established by D.C. Law 24-177.

The following information is background information on Green Building requirements in DC.

The District of Columbia City Council enacted B16-515 on December 5, 2006, establishing green building standards for public buildings and privately-owned commercial buildings of 50,000 square feet or more. While many jurisdictions have adopted green building standards for public buildings, DC is among the first to make such requirements for privately-owned buildings. Subsequent legislation (the Healthy Schools Act of 2010) expanded provisions of the original law related to public schools and privately-owned educational facilities.

The new standards are phased in over the course of several years with publicly-owned buildings being the first required to comply. All new construction and substantial improvements of non-residential District owned or District instrumentality owned projects which were initially funded in Fiscal Year 2008 or later must achieve LEED NC 2.2 or LEED CS 2.0 certification at the Silver level. Public Schools also are required to meet the requirements of LEED for Schools at the Certified level, or the equivalent under another green building rating system. To the extent that funding for construction or renovation is available public schools are required to meet LEED for Schools Gold level certification. And all public housing projects with 10,000 square feet of gross floor area or greater, will be required to fulfill or exceed the Green Communities 2006 standard or another equivalent standard.

Starting January 1, 2009, all new construction or major renovations to non-residential, private buildings of 50,000 square feet or more must submit a green building checklist outlining green features that will be pursued. New construction and major renovations to non-residential privately owned buildings started after January 1, 2012 will need to be verified as having fulfilled or exceeded the LEED NC, LEED CS, or LEED for Schools standard at the Certified level. For private "educational facilities", the law contains an aspirational goal of LEED for Schools Gold level certification. The District currently offers expedited permitting for LEED Gold certified projects as an incentive for private sector innovation.

In addition to the Green Building Requirements, in October 2008 D.C. enacted the Clean and Affordable Energy Act of 2008 (B17-492), which established energy benchmarking requirements for government and private buildings. Starting in the fall of 2009, all government buildings must be benchmarked using the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager tool. Annual benchmarking for private buildings will be phased in over four years, starting on January 1, 2010. Public buildings' benchmarking will be completed by the start date for private buildings. The results will be made available to the public on the Internet through the District of Columbia Department of the Environment (DDOE) website.