Clean Buildings Standards

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Rulemaking Timeline

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State adopts landmark energy efficiency performance standard

Buildings are the most rapidly growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in Washington state. As our population continues to grow, so does the number of new homes and business spaces being constructed. Each time we construct a new building or remodel one, we either lock in inefficient energy use or we embrace materials and technologies that will save energy and reduce emissions for decades to come.

The buildings sector is the state’s second-biggest carbon polluter behind transportation. Investment in building energy efficiency is also the most cost-efficient way to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The solution to cutting building emissions lies in energy efficiency – the fastest, cheapest way to cut carbon emissions and other harmful pollution.

Washington state’s new Commercial Clean Buildings Performance Standard is designed to secure this energy efficiency opportunity. The standard is one of several pillars of Gov. Jay Inslee’s 2019 climate package and is the first of its kind in the nation.

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A new standard to spur cost-effective energy savings

The new rules filed Oct. 30, 2020, known as WAC 194-50, implement Washington’s landmark clean commercial buildings standard enacted in 2019 (Chapter 285, Laws 2019). The law required Commerce to develop and implement an energy performance standard for commercial buildings greater than 50,000 square feet, and provide incentives to encourage energy efficiency improvements. Industrial and agricultural buildings are exempt from the standard.

The Legislature directed Commerce to adopt the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Standard 100-2018 as a base, and establish energy use intensity targets specific to Washington state for different building occupancy types.

Commerce conducted 15 workshops and comment periods to establish the new standard and set state-specific targets that are 15% less than 2009-2018 averages. The targets are based on data showing the average energy use for commercial buildings larger than 50,000 square feet as well as the downward trend in energy use resulting from new technology and maintenance or operation practices. Examples include the replacement cycle of lighting to LEDs and trends in building tune-ups and operations.

Clean Buildings Legislation and Reference Standards

State energy performance standards:

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

Quick Links

Compliance Deadlines

Covered commercial buildings must meet the
following reporting schedule:

June 1, 2026
More than 220,000 sq. ft.
June 1, 2027
More 90,000 sq. ft. but less than 220,001 sq. ft
June 1, 2028
More 50,000 sq. ft. but less than 90,001 sq. ft

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