Clean Buildings

On May 7, 2019, House Bill 1257, commonly referred to as the Clean Buildings bill, 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 that Commerce develop and implement an energy performance standard for these buildings and provide incentives to encourage efficiency improvements.

In addition to the Commerce program described here, the law requires the State Building Code Council to develop rules for electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure that requires new buildings to be EV charging ready. The Utilities and Transportation Commission will develop rules for utility natural gas conservation standards, requiring each gas company to offer by tariff a voluntary renewable natural gas service to all customers.

State Energy Performance Standard for Commercial Buildings

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 standard.

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.

Rules Development

By November 1, 2020, Commerce must establish by rule a state energy performance standard for covered commercial buildings. In developing energy performance standards, the department shall seek to maximize reductions of greenhouse gas emissions from the building sector. The standard must 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. 

ANSI/ASHRAE/IES standard 100-2018 Energy Efficiency in Existing Buildings will be used as the model standard. The rulemaking will modify the standard to meet specific requirements of the law. As part of the rulemaking, Commerce will propose energy use intensity targets specific to buildings in the state of Washington and create procedures for reporting conditional compliance and efficiency investment criteria. Administrative procedures will be part of the rules development. Along with developing technical and administrative rules for the mandatory standards, Commerce will be creating an early adopter incentive program.

Preparing to Meet the Standard

Benchmark your buildings:  To participate in the early adopter incentive program and to 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.

Legal Resources


Rulemaking Schedule

Commerce has not yet developed a rulemaking schedule. Please sign up for email updates to receive rulemaking and meeting notifications.

Need Help?

Chuck Murray
Senior Energy Policy Specialist
Phone: 360-725-3113

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