DC’s Building Energy Performance Standards (BEPS) Program

Important Updates Regarding DC Building Energy Performance Standards (BEPS)

Update August 31, 2021: Proposed rulemaking and compliance guidance were just released for the Building Energy Performance Standards (BEPS). 

On Friday, July 23, 2021, the DC Register released the proposed rulemaking for the Building Energy Performance Standards. The Department of Energy & Environment (DOEE) has also published the BEPS Compliance Guidebook, which provides explicit directions for compliance. The Guidebook is open for public comment until September 22, 2021.

Click here for additional information and a detailed overview of the proposed rules.

What is BEPS?

BEPS builds on the benchmarking requirements implemented in 2015. The standards are based upon the median ENERGY STAR score of reporting buildings. For projects that are not eligible for an ENERGY STAR score, the standard is based on source energy use intensity (EUI). Starting this year, private buildings 50,000 square feet or greater must comply. By the third compliance period, all buildings 10,000 square feet or greater will need to comply. The first compliance cycle starts January 1, 2021, and ends December 31, 2026, for private buildings 50,000 square feet or larger. The second compliance period and the phasing in of buildings 25,000 square feet and larger starts Jan 2027 and the third compliance period, which will include 10,000 square feet buildings, starts in 2033.

Credit: https://doee.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/ddoe/publication/attachments/1_Guide%20to%20the%202021%20BEPS.pdf

The Proposed Standard

Building Type ENERGY STAR Score- Standard
Office Buildings 71
Hotels 54
Multifamily 66
K-12 Schools 36
Hospitals 50


If the building’s ENERGY STAR score is at or above the standard, the building complies for this performance period. Any projects with ENERGY STAR scores below the standard will not comply and will need to follow one of four pathways before the end of the performance period or be subject to fines. Owners will need to inform DOEE of their pathway selection by February 1, 2023.

  1. Standard Pathway – the project must meet the standard (ENERGY STAR score or source EUI) for their property type.
  2. Performance Pathway – the project must achieve a 20% reduction in site EUI.
  3. Prescriptive Pathway – the project must follow specified efficiency measures which will be released in a future guidebook.
  4. Alternative Compliance Path – project works with DOEE to create a custom pathway for compliance.


Building Size Maximum Fine
500,000 SF + $7.5M
200,000-499,999 SF $5.0M
100,000-199,999 SF $2.0M
50,000-99,999 SF $1.0M
25,000-49,999 SF $500,000
10,000-24,999 SF $250,000
Campuses 3M SF + $15M
Campuses under 3M SF $7.5M


New buildings will be subject to benchmarking and BEPS after the first full calendar year of occupancy, so projects should be designed to meet or exceed the standard. Building to Code Compliance may not be enough to meet the standard. Projects should work with their design team and employ energy modeling early in project design to ensure the project is on track to meet efficiency targets.

The standard will change each cycle based upon the performance of the buildings required to benchmark, so projects that meet the standard now may still need to make improvements to stay in compliance for future cycles.

Other Updates:

There’s now a requirement every three years for third-party verification of benchmarking data, beginning in 2024 for the calendar year 2023. Third-party verification must be completed by a Professional Engineer (PE); Licensed Architect; Certified Energy Manager (CEM); Building Energy Assessment Professional; or any other additional data verifier license or training program credentials recognized by the Department and posted to its website.

What You Should Know about DC’s Latest Energy Legislation

(Download the PDF timeline here!)

Update January 1, 2021: DOEE announces that the Building Energy Performance Standards (BEPS) are open for public comment until February 2, 2021. Click here for the official announcement from DOEE.

  1. What is BEPS?

BEPS stands for the District’s Building Energy Performance Standards – and it’s a key component towards achieving the aggressive sustainability goals set forth by the District to become the healthiest, greenest, most livable city for all residents by 2032. The plan includes the following goals:

  • 50% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2032
  • Carbon neutrality by 2050
  • 50% reduction in District-wide energy use by 2032
  • 100% renewable electricity in the District by 2032

DC’s commitment to this vision is spelled out in the Clean Energy DC Omnibus Act of 2018. The Building Energy Performance Standard (BEPS) program is one of the first programs established by the District to help achieve these aggressive goals – BEPS sets forth specific energy performance thresholds that building owners will be required to meet by 2026.   The thresholds are still being determined, but it is contemplated that “the standard will be “at least” the local median ENERGY STAR score by property type (or equivalent metric).” As of this blog’s publishing date, commercial office buildings should be looking to achieve an ENERGY STAR score of 68 or higher and multi-family property types should be looking to achieve an ENERGY STAR score of 64 or higher. (Source: https://doee.dc.gov/node/572252) Properties which score below this median threshold will need to improve their performance per the BEPS pathways described below.

  1. How will it affect me as a building owner?

Building owners will need to benchmark their buildings beginning in 2021 – if a building registers below the required performance threshold, the owner will be able to choose multiple pathways to make improvements and bring the building into compliance within a period of five (5) years (2026).

Those pathways include:

  • A performance pathway: buildings required to demonstrate >20% decrease in normalized site energy use intensity (the equivalent of total energy consumed on site per square foot). This demonstrated decrease will be averaged over the last two years preceding the first year of the 5-year compliance cycle.

For example:

DOEE will compare the average normalized site energy use intensity from calendar years 2019 and 2020 to the average normalized site energy use intensity from calendar years 2024 and 2025

  • A prescriptive pathway: DOEE will provide a list of cost-effective energy efficiency measures to be implemented which will generate comparable savings to the performance pathway; the BEPS task force will be generating this list in collaboration with DOEE by the conclusion of 2020.
  • Other compliance paths, as established by DOEE

This past summer, DOEE held a series of information sessions to create a BEPS task force – comprised of A/E/C industry professionals, owners and government representatives. This group will work through 2020 to review program requirements, advise DOEE on compliance and serve as a resource to the greater building community. DOEE will publish the task force findings at the conclusion of 2020, including clearly defined pathway parameters and information on penalties for non-compliance.

  1. When does this take effect?

Building owners who operate buildings under 50,000 SF will be subject to a rolling compliance schedule as follows:

  • Privately-owned buildings >50,000 SF: beginning January 1, 2021
  • District-owned buildings >10,000 SF: beginning January 1, 2021
  • Privately-owned  buildings 25,000-50,000 SF: begin benchmarking January 1, 2022
  • Privately-owned buildings 49,999-25,000 SF: beginning January 1, 2023
  • Privately-owned buildings 10,000-25,000 SF: begin benchmarking January 1, 2025
  • Privately-owned buildings 24,999-10,000 SF: beginning January 1, 2026
  • Second BEPS compliance cycle begins for buildings >25,000 SF January 1, 2027
  • Third BEPS compliance cycle begins for buildings >10,000 SF January 1, 2033

Building owners who operate campus-like facilities, including universities and hospitals, will be subject to a campus-wide standard currently under development with DOEE. Compliance regulations and deadlines will be established at a later date.

  1. How do I get started?

From compliance and financing to ENERGY STAR scores, we know the BEPS program right now brings more questions than answers. GHT Limited’s Operations & Energy Services team is here to help! Not sure about your current ENERGY STAR score? Wondering what improvements you will need to comply in 2021? Contact our team today for a site survey and energy audit to find out where you stand!

For a print-friendly timeline to keep at your desk, click here.

Jeffrey Salay, PE, CEM, LEED AP is a Senior Principal at GHT Limited, a leading MEP engineering design firm in the Washington, DC Metropolitan area. Jeffrey leads GHT’s Operations and Energy Services (OES) studio and supports clients in ENERGY STAR benchmarking services, ASHRAE energy audits and other energy studies, and design energy efficiency upgrades. For more than 25 years, he has served as a trusted partner to building owners and operators alike in developing energy management strategies which reduce building energy usage and its impact on the environment. For questions or to set up a meeting, he can be reached at jsalay@ghtltd.com.