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Green Building Fund Grant Program - Completed Grant Projects

Net-Zero Energy Project Design Assistance
March 2019 – September 2019

This grant funded early design assistance for four building projects committed to pursuing net-zero energy. Early, integrated design is essential to enable buildings to achieve deep energy efficiency, but can be difficult to fund through existing project budgets. Net-zero energy buildings are cleaner, more comfortable, and more affordable to operate than traditional buildings. The Clean Energy DC plan calls for net-zero energy building codes by 2026 and there are a limited number of example projects in the District at this time. By enabling more projects to pursue net-zero energy, this grant will grow the number of available case studies while also building the capacity of the development community in advance of a statutory requirement. The four selected projects are:

Tools for Deep Green Building in DC
April 2018 – September 2018

This grant funded the creation of technical resources to support deep green building in the District, specifically the design and construction of net zero energy buildings. The grantee, New Buildings Institute, created a number of resources targeted at several building typologies and industry sectors, all tailored to the DC market. The grant culminated with a half-day workshop in September 2018 where the resources were debuted and presented in detail to the design and construction community. The flagship product, the NZE Project Guide, establishes common definitions around net zero energy buildings, provides a clear pathway to the development of a net zero building, and compiles all the relevant local resources and case studies to support projects pursuing net zero goals. The Multifamily Guide provides targeted information and resources to support the creation of net zero energy multifamily buildings. Recognizing that an integrated design process is essential to the creation of a high-performance building, the Integrated Design Charrette Toolkit provides all the materials to help plan and lead a successful charrette.

Green Building Historic Preservation Guidelines
March 2017 – September 2017

This grant funded the creation of sustainability guidelines and resources for the preservation of older and historic properties. The creation of green building historic preservation guidelines facilitated the transformation of historic buildings into fully sustainable structures. It also lessens confusion about how this is to be accomplished and educates building owners about the process to achieve this. The guidelines ultimately underwent a public review process and were adopted by the Office of Planning in December 2019.

Smarter DC Challenge
June 2014 – September 2016

The Smarter DC Challenge was a green business engagement program that helped to create a culture of sustainability in the District by transforming businesses, organizations, and institutions into sustainability stewards and champions.

Created with support from the Green Building Fund, this program encouraged businesses to incorporate green practices into their operations. Led by GreenspaceNCR working with EcoCoach, the Challenge was designed to help organizations and buildings reduce resource consumption including energy, water, waste and non-renewable materials through friendly competition. The Smarter DC Challenge created leaders through in person and web-based educational seminars, peer-to-peer learning, and friendly competition. The project was a continuation of a pilot program started by the DowntownDC Business Improvement District (BID) in 2013. The public program launched in 2015 and enrolled over 100 businesses and buildings in the first year.

Power Down DC: A Multifamily Energy and Water Challenge
July 2015 – September 2016

This grant funded a project to develop and manage an energy and water reduction competition for multifamily rental housing. Residential buildings account for 20% of citywide energy use. With 60% of total households renting, and 41% residing in multifamily buildings, reducing resource use within that market sector can play a significant part in reducing District’s carbon footprint and overall utility consumption. In response, our grantee, Steven Winter Associates, created Power Down DC: A Multifamily Energy and Water Challenge in 2015. The project was executed in two phases. First, a building to building education series educated residents and property managers on the value of utility reduction. Second, a resident competition worked with residents and staff of multifamily buildings to change short- and long-term behavior and reduce the use of energy and water. For more information visit Power Down DC.

Microgrid and District Energy Feasibility Study
June 2015 – September 2016

This grant funded the analysis of microgrid and district energy potential for the District. The Community Foundation of the National Capital Region, working with lead investigator Urban Ingenuity, identified the best potential sites for initial microgrid deployment in the city and analyzed opportunities and made recommendations for locations, including existing and new developments. The grantee also addressed recommendations, legal and regulatory barriers, technical issues on integration with the public utility grid, potential ownership structures, and sources and uses of funds.

Green Finance Analysis
June 2015 – September 2016

This grant funded a project to research and analyze innovative funding mechanisms that increased public and private investment to offset first costs for deep green building design and construction approaching net-zero energy use. The grantee, Coalition for Green Finance, working with Capital-E and the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, looked at a spectrum of programs that could support sustainable development and deep green building strategies including the creation of green bank. This grant laid the groundwork for the creation of the DC Green Finance Authority. For more information visit: dcgreenbank.org.

Energy Performance Data Quality Assurance
January 2015 – September 2015

This grant helped DOEE develop and implement a successful strategy for improving data quality for benchmarking data from privately-owned buildings. Grantee New York University, working with the Institute for Market Transformation, proposed a plan for verifying data quality, including an assessment of various options and why the proposed method was selected. They developed tools and a strategy for maintaining benchmarking data quality for publicly- and privately-owned buildings. DOEE is furthering these efforts through internal research and implementation of a quality assurance strategy. For more information refer to DOEE’s Energy Benchmarking Program.

Greening the Multiple Listing Service
June 2014 – September 2015

This grant funded a project to increase the awareness of existing “green” elements of the DC metro area’s Multiple Listing Service (MLS) system, and to further develop additional resources in the system to focus on green building attributes. In 2014, the Institute for Market Transformation (IMT), working with Elevate Energy and Real Estate Business Intelligence (RBI), produced initial analysis on the value of green. In 2015, the grant continued with a focus on continuing this analysis through a case study and training of the real estate brokerage community. High performance housing attributes were added to the MRIS database in June. The final report, written by Sandy Adomatis, What is Green Worth?: Unveiling High Performance Home Premiums in Washington, DC, was published in September 2015.

Green Appraisals
June 2014 – September 2015

This grant funded a project to increase awareness and implementation of green appraisals in the commercial real estate and finance communities in the District. The Institute for Market Transformation, working with the Appraisal Institute of DC, created outreach materials and hosted meetings and training events with key stakeholders in order to improve competency and awareness of green appraisals. In 2015, this project offered a four-part training series for the appraisal industry on this topic. Culminating the grant project, in September 2015 IMT and the Appraisal Institute published High Performance Building and Property Value: A Primer for Lenders and a case study for the Portrait Building, a high performance commercial office building in downtown DC.

Smart Buildings Plan
July 2013 – September 2014

This grant funded an assessment of the building data sources that are currently available in the District and a feasibility study for a “big data” smart building platform. The grantee, Greenspace NCR, worked with Interface Engineering on this effort. The final analysis included recommendations on how to track and analyze the data needed, cost estimates for maintaining this information in a single platform, and a summary of the steps necessary to move from this assessment and feasibility study to construct and implement such a platform.

Zero Energy/Water and Living Building Challenge Cost/Benefit Analysis
July 2013 – September 2014

This grant funded a project to analyze benefits and costs of high performance, net-zero energy, and water buildings. The questions that often come up first when discussing zero energy/zero water and Living Building Challenge projects are: “what is the cost premium?” and “what might the payback be?” This grant answered those questions in the specific context of the types of buildings, the costs, and the climate in the District. But the grant also helped provide guidance for the District government on policy drivers related to deep green buildings. The report concludes that these deep green buildings can cost as little as 5% more than traditional buildings with a return on investment in as little as 3 years!

Assessing the Health Impacts of Urban Heat Island Reduction Strategies
July 2013 – September 2014

This grant funded analysis to estimate daily heat-related mortality risks in the District due to the local urban heat island effect. The analysis also determined that the number of days with extreme urban heat island effects historically associated with high mortality would decrease significantly if urban heat island reduction measures are put into place. It also provided policy guidance for the District government.

Green Building Displays
July 2013 – September 2014

This grant funded the design and construction of green building displays to educate and train residents and businesses on sustainable techniques and strategies that can be used to meet or exceed the building requirements in the District. The interactive displays provide examples of green building features and best practices. In addition, they provoke interest in green building for District employees, building professionals, and the general public. Projects include DCRA’s Interactive Green Code Overview available online, and at DCRA’s headquarters. In addition, the following topics have been developed into interactive physical displays:

  • Storm water management
  • Insulation installation
  • Air and duct sealing
  • Commissioning
  • Green building materials
  • Water efficiency

Green Building Program Manual
July 2013 – September 2014

This grant funded the creation of the Green Building Program Manual and digital Green Building Roadmap. Green Building Program Manual contains series of guidelines relating to DCRA procedures to assist the public in interpreting and complying with the relevant green building and energy conservation laws and regulations. To make the process easy to follow, the manual was laid out to match the typical timeline of a building project, including: (1) Design Phase; (2) Permitting Process; (3) Building Inspections; (4) Certificate of Occupancy; (5) Post-Occupancy; and (6) Enforcement. The Green Building Program Manual and other resources are available on DCRA’s Green Building Division website.