Changes Coming to DC Green and Energy Codes

Are You Ready for Changes to the DC Green Building Codes?

Senior Principal Patrick Kunze Previews Proposed Changes to the District’s Green and Energy Codes

On Monday, July 30, I served on a panel hosted by the AIA|DC Committee on the Environment (COTE) on Updated to the DC Green Building and Energy Codes.  Other panelists included:

  1. Bill Updike – Integral Group
  2. Frank Mobilio – JLL (Jones Lang LaSalle)
  3. Anica Landreneau – HOK
  4. Katherine Johnson – DC Department of Energy & Environment (DOEE)
  5. Dave Epley – DC Department of Consumer & Regulatory Affairs (DCRA)
  6. Dave Kaiser – DC Department of Consumer & Regulatory Affairs (DCRA)

A full copy of the presentation is available here:
https://ghtltd.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/DC-Energy-and-Green-Code-Update_Slides-from-AIA-Presentation.pdf

(Prepared by Anica Landreneau, HOK)

Status of DC Green Building and Energy Codes:
The District’s Green Construction and Energy-Commercial Technical Advisory Group (TAG) consists of DC Code Officials and representatives from the Architecture, Engineering and Construction industries. DC’s Green and Energy TAG thoroughly reviews every section of the underlying model codes (2015 International Green Construction Code and ASHRAE 189.1-2013 for green; and 2015 International Energy Conservation Code and ASHRAE 90.1-2013 for energy) and prepares recommended modifications for the District’s Construction Code Coordinating Board.

Critical proposed changes to the codes include:

  1. Fifteen percent improvement in energy efficiency over current codes; with 11% improvement in site energy and 10% improvement in source energy
  2. Commercial energy code based on ASHRAE 90.1 with Chapter 7 of ASHRAE 189.1 (IECC is no longer a compliance path)
  3. Amendments which will incorporate provisions from IECC 2015 and ASHRAE 90.1
  4. Stretch goals for Net Zero, Passive House and Living Building Challenge to set the stage for the future

Detailed information about proposed changes to the codes can be found in the presentation slides.

The codes have been approved by the District’s Construction Codes Coordinating Board (CCCB) and were submitted in March 2018 to the District’s Executive Office of the Mayor for final approvals. Once the codes are approved by Mayor Muriel Bowser and the City Council, a period will open for Public Comments, with planned adoption of the codes by late 2018/early 2019.

DC’s Aggressive Energy Goals
The District of Columbia, as a leading jurisdiction in sustainability and energy efficiency, is using the Green Construction and Energy Codes to implement landmark changes to area buildings and homes. Most importantly, the District will likely not adopt the 2015 IECC, electing instead to adopt ASHRAE 90.1 (2013) and merge it with Chapter 7 of ASHRAE 189.1 (2014) which specifically addresses energy codes.

The codes, once implemented, will help the District get one step closer to reaching Mayor Muriel Bowser’s commitment to Zero Carbon by 2050. DCRA and DOEE are also working together to build voluntary net-zero programs for residential and commercial buildings which will continue to pull the industry forward as the base code pushes from behind. The District is working towards developing incentive programs for all aspects of green building, including PACE financing, rebates for Sustainable Energy Utilities and the Solar for All program, which propels investment in solar energy solutions and returns savings to low-income DC residents through PEPCO rebates. Finally, the District passed legislation on July 2, 2018 to establish a Green Bank – which puts DC on the map as the first city in the United States to establish a public-private institution intended to create jobs and spur economic growth while helping the District meet its aggressive sustainability goals.

What’s Next?
Many clients and colleagues have been asking GHT – “what’s next?” “When can I expect these changes to take effect? How can I prepare to respond to new code requirements during the design and permitting process?” For some, the answers are yet known. During our discussion, we encouraged all participants to contact Mayor Muriel Bowser and the City Council in supporting of ratifying the codes. Contact information for all elected officials is included at the end of the presentation document. We urge all who are interested in this code effort, which impacts all facets of building in the District, to monitor communications from GHT Limited.

We anticipate the District will provide at least one round of public comment on the proposed codes. GHT Limited will send notifications when the public comment period opens, and we recommend everyone reviews the proposed changes and submits comments.

Once the codes are implemented, we encourage clients to schedule an in-office session with GHT and your team to discuss how the new codes will impact your projects. For the latest information on the District’s Green Codes, follow GHT Limited on Twitter at @GHT_MEP and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GHT-Limited.

As Senior Principal in GHT’s Interior Studio, Patrick Kunze is committed to advancing sustainable design practices in the building industry. He is a voting member of the Green Technical Advisory Group (TAG) subcommittee of Washington DC’s Construction Codes Coordinating Board (CCCB) and he participated in the review and development of the inaugural Green Codes. He is a Professional Engineer, a LEED Accredited Professional and has provided mechanical engineering design for more than 50 projects which have achieved LEED certification, including the USGBC Headquarters in the District.