Clean Buildings

On May 7, 2019 the Clean Buildings bill (Chapter 285, Laws of 2019) was signed into law. The objective is to lower costs and pollution from fossil fuel consumption in the state’s existing buildings, especially large commercial buildings. The law requires the Washington State Department of Commerce to develop and implement an energy performance standard for these buildings and provide incentives to encourage efficiency improvements.

Commerce created this webpage to provide communications on the development of rules and incentive program. This includes links to the state law, schedules for incentive program workshops, and access to other relevant information. Interested parties can also sign up for email notifications on this webpage.

Rules and Incentive Guidelines

The Washington State Legislature directed Commerce to establish a state energy performance standard for covered commercial buildings. In developing energy performance standards, the department was instructed by the legislature to maximize reductions of greenhouse gas emissions from the building sector. The legislature required that the standard include energy use intensity targets by building type and methods of conditional compliance that include an energy management plan, operations and maintenance program, energy efficiency audits, and investment in energy efficiency measures designed to meet the targets. 

The legislature directed Commerce to use ANSI/ASHRAE/IES standard 100-2018 Energy Efficiency in Existing Buildings as the model standard. Commerce was instructed by the legislature to modify the standard to meet specific requirements of the law. As part of the rulemaking, Commerce proposed energy use intensity targets specific to buildings in the state of Washington and created procedures for reporting conditional compliance and efficiency investment criteria. Administrative procedures were part of the rules development. The rules were adopted on October 30 and can be found under WAC 194-50. Along with developing technical and administrative rules for the mandatory standards, Commerce will be creating an early adopter incentive program.

Incentive Guidelines and Development

Upcoming meetings and comment deadlines

Incentives guidelines webinar #2

Jan. 13, 2021
 10:00-11:30 a.m.

Commerce will be hosting a virtual-only webinar on incentive guidelines and development on Jan. 13, 2021. Meeting details and materials will be made available prior to the meeting.

Past webinars and incentive program resources

Implementation of the Standard

Commerce will use a staged approach to implement the state energy performance standard for covered commercial buildings. From 2021 to 2026, the standard will be used to administer a voluntary efficiency incentive program. Beginning in 2026, the standard will be implemented as a mandatory requirement.

The standard will apply to large non-residential building greater than 50,000 square feet in floor area. Large multi-family residential buildings will be eligible for the incentive program, but are not covered by the mandatory requirements.

All buildings will need to develop energy management plans, including creating energy benchmarking reports. The mandatory standard will require building owners to demonstrate that their buildings consume less energy than a specified energy use intensity target or be in the process of reducing the buildings energy use intensity. The incentive program will provide early adopters financial support when they demonstrate they moved a non-compliant building into compliance with the standard.

Preparing to Meet the Standard

Benchmark your buildings: To participate in the early adopter incentive program and demonstrate compliance with the standard, building owners will need to know the buildings energy use intensity. This is a measure of energy use per square foot of floor area. We recommend all building owners benchmark their buildings using Energy Star Portfolio Manager. This will help them assess their eligibility for incentives and obligations to make improvements under this law.

Develop and execute an energy efficiency plan: Incorporating energy efficiency in long term facility operations, maintenance and revitalization plans is the least cost method for assuring compliance. The law was specifically developed with long implementation timelines to allow building owners the opportunity to make improvements using this least cost method. Help is available from your local energy utility. The U.S. EPA Energy Star buildings program provide good introductions to proactive approaches. Commerce in collaboration with the Washington State University Energy Program will also be developing support materials in the coming months.


Statutory Authority

  • 19.27A.200 State energy performance standard—Definitions
  • 19.27A.210 State energy performance standard
  • 19.27A.220 State energy performance standard—Early adoption incentive program
  • 19.27A.230State energy performance standard—Limit on early adoption incentive payments
  • 19.27A.240State energy performance standard—Early adoption incentive payment administration

Resources for Building Owners

Upcoming Webinars for Building Owners

Rulemaking Documents

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Need Help?

Commerce staff members are available to provide trainings for organizations, groups, and associations. Please contact to schedule a training. 

Additional contacts

Emily Salzberg
Buildings Unit Managing Director

Luke Howard
Building Performance Specialist

Anneka McDonald
Incentive Program Manager

Austin Scharff
Legislative and Rulemaking Coordinator

Anna Batie
Buildings Data Lead

Annalyn Bergin
Buildings Unit Coordinator