DC Getting Greener

The District of Columbia government is implementing long-planned changes to reduce energy and water use and improve the performance of both public and private buildings. The new requirements build upon the sustainable strategies introduced in the District’s Green Building Act of 2006 (GBA) and the Clean and Affordable Energy Act of 2008 (CAEA).


As of April 1, 2013, owners of private commercial and multi-family residential buildings over 100,000 SF were required to report their facilities’ 2012 energy and water use data via the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager. The same requirement applied to all public buildings larger than 10,000 SF. Building owners must repeat the process annually by April 1, and non-compliance can result in fines of up to $100 per day.

What’s next? By April 1, 2014, owners of private commercial and multi-family residential buildings larger than 50,000 SF must benchmark their 2013 energy and water use. The latest official information is available from the District Department of the Environment (DDOE).

Green Construction Code

The District is also in the process of adopting its first green construction code. The code, an amended version of the 2012 International Green Construction Code, is currently pending review and approval by the DC Council. If approved, it will affect all projects 10,000 SF and larger that are classified as either New Construction or a Level 3 Alteration as defined by the current code.

Having served as a voting member of DC’s Green Technical Advisory Group (TAG) and working through the process of developing and recommending this, I recently summarized several of the topics that generated the most interest during the public information sessions for the Washington Building Congress’ (WBC) February/March 2013 Bulletin. If you have questions on these topics, feel free to reach out to me at dcgcc@ghtltd.com.

These significant but manageable changes reflect the aspirations of the recently unveiled Sustainable DC Plan, which has a goal to make DC “the healthiest, greenest, most livable city in the nation over the next 20 years.” The GHT team understands these changes and can help you successfully navigates the changes, while balancing budget or project delivery goals. Contact us if we can be of assistance.


As a Senior Principal of GHT’s Interiors studio, Patrick Kunze, PE, LEED AP is committed to advancing sustainable design practices in the building industry. He contributed to the development of questions for the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) LEED AP exam, and as a voting member of the Green Technical Advisory Group (TAG) subcommittee of Washington DC’s Construction Codes Coordinating Board (CCCB), he helped review and amend the DC Green Construction Code.