Frequently Asked Questions
Clean Buildings Performance Standard
The Clean Buildings Performance Standard (Standard) applies to Tier 1 buildings (previously known as covered commercial buildings). Tier 1 buildings are non-residential, hotel, motel and dormitory buildings greater than 50,000 gross square feet, excluding the parking garage area. Multifamily residential buildings are exempt from Tier 1 mandatory requirements of the Standard but are eligible for the Early Adopter Incentive Program.
Below is a list of frequently asked questions. If the question or answer you are looking for is not in this list, please contact us using the customer support form for additional help.
Live Q&A Documents
- K12 Guidance Q&A – Oct 19 2022 (PDF)
- Compliance by Meeting the EUIt Q&A – Oct 25 2022 (PDF)
- Compliance through Investment Criteria – Nov 11 2022 (PDF)
Tier 2 Covered Buildings
On March 25, 2022, Governor Inslee signed the Clean Buildings expansion bill into law. The expansion applies to buildings 20,000 square feet or larger, adding a new second tier that includes multifamily buildings.
The first phase of this law is not a performance standard. It will require reporting on benchmarking, energy management plans and operations and maintenance programs for Tier 2 buildings. Compliance and reporting for this new tier is July 1, 2027
*click on the image above to expand
The expansion bill includes an incentive program with an additional $150 million available for Tier 2 buildings at a rate of $.30 cents per square foot.
The new law requires Commerce to complete rulemaking by Dec. 1, 2023. Rulemaking provides an opportunity for the public to comment. Meetings will be announced through our Clean Buildings Bulletins and webpage.
Complete the Clean Buildings Customer Support Form. When filling out the form, include a list of the building(s) parcel IDs, the square footage and any additional documentation or information.
Complete a Data Verification Request.
Initial access to the Clean Buildings Portal requires an access code found in the building owner notification letter, or the Clean Buildings staff may grant you shared access upon request.
To request a copy of the building owner notification letter or to request shared access, complete the request form. This will provide Commerce staff with the information needed to verify applicants are authorized to view and/or maintain building/parcel information on behalf of the organization.
We used a combination of methods to identify possible Tier 1 buildings after receiving feedback from stakeholders that county assessor data did not always contain the information we needed to accomplish this task.
We created county-specific Geographic Information System layers showing possible Tier 1 buildings and their estimated gross floor area using available Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) data.
Buildings can span multiple parcels, and our visual identification method does not allow us to see if there are internal connections between structures on adjoining parcels.
Residential condo owners do not need to comply. We have updated our records to reflect this. A data verification request is not necessary. No further action is required.
Current law states that all applications for exemption to the Standard must be received by Commerce between 365 and 180 days before the scheduled compliance date.
We understand this application time frame may cause concern, since buildings with denied exemptions could have very little time to meet the compliance deadline. We are currently working on guidelines that will allow for application for exemption at any point prior to 180 days before the compliance date. We will post notification of updated guidelines to the Clean Buildings webpage once they have been finalized.
- Sign up and receive an email when the guidelines have been posted on our website and exemption applications are available.
- Find resources specific to the details of exemption application requirements.
Here are some steps to get you started:
- Log into the Clean Building Portal (full access) using the code found in your notification letter.
- Click on the building profile and change the Parcel Status to “Ownership Confirmed.”
- Download a copy of the Standard to learn more.
- Visit the How to Comply webpage to find helpful information, videos and additional flowcharts to get you started.
- Visit the Support and Resources webpage for resources that can assist with compliance, including a directory of qualified persons, a directory of energy auditors and Commerce how to’s.
The Support and Resources webpage provides additional resources that can assist with compliance. There you can find a directory of qualified persons and energy auditors.
Commerce can assign several people to access the same building(s). Please complete the following:
- Have each person that requires access complete the Shared Access Request Form. This will provide Commerce staff with information needed to verify applicants are authorized to view and/or maintain building/parcel information on behalf of the organization.
- Have each person that requires access set up a SAW Account.
- Add the Clean Buildings Service using the first option; I have been given a code by an agency. Then enter the code CBPS21.
- Shared access will be granted when steps 1-3 have been completed by the applicant and verified by Commerce staff.
If a building owned by a church or non-profit meets the definition of a Tier 1 building, it will need to comply.
Yes, the Clean Buildings Performance Standard is more stringent than Seattle’s Building Tune-Up program, although certain elements are similar.
The Standard requires:
- the building(s) energy use intensity (EUI) meet the target EUI metrics shown in Annex Z, Table 7-2a, or;
- investment in all cost-effective energy efficiency measures as determined by the Standard.
In addition, all Tier 1 buildings must implement an energy management plan as specified by the Standard. To find out more, watch the following informational video on the basics of the Standard; Clean Buildings 101.
The Clean Buildings Performance Standard is mandatory for all Tier 1 buildings located in the state of Washington. A Tier 1 building is a building where the sum of nonresidential, hotel, motel and dormitory floor areas exceeds 50,000 gross square feet, excluding the parking garage area.
- Nursing homes and senior care/assisted living facilities are considered institutional occupancies according to Washington state building codes.
Institutional occupancies are considered Tier 1 buildings by the standard and shall comply with the Clean Buildings Performance Standard when the building floor area is greater than 50,000 square feet.
- Senior Care Community refers to buildings that house and provide care and assistance for elderly residents.
Senior Care Community applies to nursing homes (skilled nursing facilities) and assisted living facilities and is not intended for retirement communities that offer only independent living. A senior living residential community may include a mixture of residential and institutional occupancies.
If more than 50,000 of any single building is categorized by the building codes as institutional occupancy, the building would need to comply with the Standard. The building’s occupancy permit should list the occupancy designation. You may also check with the building department if you cannot find the record on site.
If you are still uncertain about the designation of your facility, please contact us by filling out the customer support form.
No, a building is not required to be sub-metered to comply with the Standard. Please review the submetering documentation for additional information.
Tier 1 buildings subject to the Standard that are not independently metered, and thus cannot measure an energy use intensity (EUI), need to comply with the investment criteria.
State law requires utilities to report utility data to building owners with three or more tenants. If you have two or fewer tenants, you will need to have them sign a waiver provided by the utility to release the data to you, or the tenant can obtain the data from the utility provider.
In accordance with RCW 19.27A.170 (8), for any Tier 1 building with three or more tenants, an electric or gas utility must, upon request of the building owner, provide the building owner with aggregated monthly energy consumption data without requiring prior consent from tenants.
Early Adopter Incentive Program
Before applying for the Early Adopter Incentive Program, determine if you are eligible by visiting the program webpage and review the program guidelines.
If you are eligible, the application can be found in the Clean Buildings Portal.
Tier 1 buildings reporting schedule:
June 1, 2026
More than 220,000 sq. ft.
June 1, 2027
More than 90,000 sq. ft. but less than 220,001 sq. ft
June 1, 2028
More than 50,000 sq. ft. but less than 90,001 sq. ft