DC BEPS is Coming! 4 Things You Need to Know

What You Should Know about DC’s Latest Energy Legislation

(Download the PDF timeline here!)

  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.