State urges owners and operators of large commercial properties to review newly-posted list of buildings subject to Washington’s first-in-nation Clean Buildings Performance Standard

  • July 1, 2021

Building owners can also explore $75 million early adopter incentive program to get a head start on energy efficiency improvements.

OLYMPIA, WA – The buildings sector is Washington state’s second-biggest carbon polluter behind transportation. Investment in building energy efficiency is 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. The Clean Buildings Law, passed in 2019, requires commercial buildings in the state greater than 50,000 square feet to comply with the performance standard. The Department of Commerce conducted 15 workshops and comment periods since October 2019 to establish the new standard and targets.

“This is a big step forward implementing the nation’s strongest Clean Buildings law. Washington’s 2021 State Energy Strategy identifies energy efficiency in buildings as an essential strategy for transforming and decarbonizing our energy future,” said Commerce Director Lisa Brown. “Investing in energy efficiency will strengthen local communities and help businesses lower energy costs.”

Commerce has identified parcels containing a building, or a portion of a building, which may be subject to the standard and posted the list today on the Clean Buildings webpage.

Building owners should expect to receive a letter later this summer notifying them that their building is likely subject to the standard and providing additional direction on next steps. In the meantime, building owners are encouraged to become familiar with the new requirements and resources available. They can also contact Commerce to schedule a training or information session.

Reporting and compliance requirements are phased in beginning June 1, 2026 for buildings more than 220,000 square feet. Buildings 90,001-220,000 square feet begin reporting June 1, 2027. Buildings 50,000-90,000 square feet begin reporting June 1, 2028.

Owners may also be eligible for the state’s Early Adopter Incentive program, regardless of whether they are required to make energy efficiency improvements to comply with the standard or not. Launching today, the program offers performance-based incentive payments to building owners who get a head start on compliance with the Clean Building Performance Standard, or who simply choose to make qualifying improvements to their buildings.

For example, large multifamily residential buildings are exempt from mandatory requirements of the standard, but are eligible to participate in the incentive program.

Incentive funds are limited to $75 million. Building owners must apply to participate in the program, and incentives will be offered depending on eligibility until all available funds are distributed. A portion of the incentive funds will be prioritized for projects in communities that are most likely to be underserved, including buildings in rural areas and multifamily affordable housing buildings.

For qualifications and more information about the Early Adopter Incentive program, please visit the Clean Buildings Early Adopter Incentive Program webpage.

“There are multiple ways building owners can meet these new standards and we’re committed to helping them succeed “said Assistant Director Michael Furze. “For example, buildings may need energy efficiency upgrades that will take years to complete. The Early Adopter Incentive program provides a funding for building owners who need or want to start making improvements now.”

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