Sustainability & Energy Efficiency

District of Columbia Requires Building Managers to Lower Emissions

3 min read

Across the country, initiatives to improve energy efficiency in buildings are becoming more commonplace and more rigorous as cities and states set goals to achieve a carbon-free future. We’ve reported on Chicago and Philadelphia initiatives in past blog posts, but another noteworthy place that is tackling building carbon emissions is Washington, D.C.

D.C.’s energy efficiency laws  ̶  The Renewable Portfolio Standards Act of 2004, the Green Building Act of 2006, the Clean and Affordable Energy Act of 2008 and the District of Columbia Traffic Act  ̶  were amended under the Clean Energy DC Omnibus Act of 2018 or the CEDC Act.1 This new legislation is aggressive by design and establishes Building Energy Performance Standards (BEPS), which require commercial and multifamily buildings to meet minimum thresholds over multiple five-year compliance periods.1

The CEDC Act requires commercial and multifamily buildings to comply with BEPS by meeting or exceeding the District’s median Energy Star score for each property type or face alternative compliance penalties.BEPS will apply to privately-owned buildings as follows: buildings 50,000 square feet or greater were required to meet BEPs as of January 1, 2021; buildings 25,000 square feet or greater must comply beginning January 1, 2023; and building 10,000 square feet or greater must comply beginning January 1, 2026. Buildings with a verified Energy Star score below the established standard will have five years to meet the requirement for each compliance period.

Current Status of D.C. Building Emissions

Washington D.C. is one of 25 cities to join the American Cities Climate Challenge aimed at reducing city-wide emissions via improvements in transit and building sectors. Buildings account for 75 percent of total emissions in the district, according to the Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE).3

Currently, Washington D.C. buildings eligible for the 1 to 100 Energy Star score received an average rating of 75 (last reported in 2020), up 10 points since the CEDC act was launched in 2018. According to ENERGY STAR’s standards, a top-performing building must have a score of 75, showing that D.C. is right on target. 4 Large buildings, such as hospitals and universities, contribute the majority of emissions in the district.5

How Does Reporting Work?

Eligible buildings must track and report their annual energy and water use using the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager® tool. The owner of a covered building must submit their previous year’s data on the portfolio manager tool by April 1st of each year.6

The first violation receives a written warning but after this 30-day notice, the DOEE may issue fines of up to $100/day to any building owners that are still not in compliance.

Benchmarking data is publicly disclosed via an online database, showing building owners’ efforts to reduce emissions and better the local air. Environmentally-conscious investors, tenants and other stakeholders may look to this data prior to investing or signing a lease to see a building manager’s commitment to environmental stewardship.

What Energy-Efficient Upgrades Should Businesses Make to Their Buildings?

Buildings with a verified Energy Star score below the established median should act now; however, all District of Columbia businesses looking to get started on improving the sustainability status of their buildings can take advantage of Constellation’s Efficiency Made Easy (EME) program. Through EME, you can identify and implement efficiency upgrades that can help you reduce energy costs and manage usage. Plus, the program requires no upfront capital so you can preserve your budget for other business priorities.

Upgrades and improvements may include:

  • LED lighting
  • Building automation controls
  • Building envelope [external walls, windows, roof and foundation]
  • HVAC and cooling

For more information on our Efficiency Made Easy solution, visit



You may also be interested in these related articles: