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BEPS Frequently Asked Questions

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What is a Building Energy Performance Standard?

A Building Energy Performance Standard (or BEPS) is a minimum threshold of energy performance for existing buildings that will be no lower than the local median ENERGY STAR score by property type (or equivalent metric). The District’s standards were created to drive energy performance in existing buildings to help meet the energy and climate goals of the Sustainable DC plan — to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption by 50% by 2032.

How were these standards created?

The framework for the Building Energy Performance Standards was created in Title III of the Clean Energy DC Omnibus Amendment Act of 2018. BEPS was initially introduced as a concept in the Sustainable DC Building Energy Performance Standards Task Force in 2014. It was also identified as a significant action item that contributes to the District’s Clean Energy DC goals and is supported by a technical analysis by C40 Cities and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, published in 2019. 

What is the timeline for the implementation of BEPS?

In 2020, DOEE will be working with input from the BEPS Task Force and other DC government agencies to establish the rules and policies that will drive the program. Notes from the meetings will be posted regularly.

 

What is the timeline for the implementation of BEPS?

 

In 2020, DOEE will be working with input from the BEPS Task Force and other DC government agencies to establish the rules and policies that will drive the program. Notes from the meetings will be posted regularly on our website.

 

When do the standards go into effect?

DOEE will establish the first set of standards by January 1, 2021. Standards will then be set every 6 years, creating BEPS periods (BEPS 1, BEPS 2, BEPS 3, etc.).

How do I know if it applies to my building?

The BEPS program is built on the success of the benchmarking program, so if you are mandated to benchmark, the BEPS program applies to your building. As the benchmarking requirements ratchet down in square footage over time, the buildings will be required to meet the BEPS in the following periods until all buildings 10,000 sq. ft. and over are following the performance standards.

  • BEPS 1:  Private buildings >50,000 sq. ft. and DC-owned >10,000 sq. ft.

  • BEPS 2:  Private buildings >25,000 sq. ft. and DC-owned >10,000 sq. ft.

  • BEPS 3:  Private buildings and DC-owned >10,000 sq. ft.

What do I need to do if my building meets the standard for BEPS 1?

Legally nothing is required of your building if it meets the standard for BEPS 1. But as a building owner, you should look ahead to BEPS 2 and make sure the building stays above the standard. As buildings improve in the District, there will be incremental improvements in the standard, so if your building is close to the standard, you should consider additional energy conservation measures. The ISO 50001 standard for energy management systems provides a great framework for continual improvement.

What if my building does not meet the building energy performance standard?

Buildings that do not meet the standard for a BEPS period will be placed in a 5-year compliance cycle. The building owner has until the end of the cycle to bring their building into compliance following one of the compliance paths available.

What paths are available for compliance?

Building owners will have a variety of paths to choose from to bring their buildings into compliance. More details about the paths will be available once the rules and guidance documents are finalized by DOEE. This is the basic framework of the compliance paths:

  • Performance Path: reduce energy usage 20%
  • Prescriptive Path: implement cost-effective energy efficiency measures
  • Standard Target Path: For property types with a standard above the national median, reach the standard
  • Alternative Compliance Paths: allows an owner to apply to follow a path with special criteria

How will a building standard be set for universities and hospitals, as they usually benchmark energy use at a campus level?

The Clean Energy DC Omnibus Amendment Act of 2018 specifics that “DOEE shall establish campus-wide energy performance standards for post-secondary educational institutions and hospitals with multiple buildings in a single location that are owned by a single entity.” Under this clause, DOEE will take into consideration the existence of historical buildings on a campus, the diversity of building use on a campus, and any zoning regulations or master campus plan considerations when developing the campus-wide standard. At this time, the BEPS Task Force and DOEE are working with relevant stakeholders on how to best establish a campus standard.

How will BEPS affect older or historic landmark buildings?

There is a common misconception that the principles of sustainability and green building design are at odds with those of historic preservation. Historic buildings are often more energy-efficient than modern construction. In fact, studies have shown that buildings constructed before 1940 require less energy consumption for heating and cooling than houses built during the subsequent 35 years. Additionally, building systems and components, like HVAC or lighting, that do not contribute to the historic character of a building, could be updated without triggering historic review. Check out the DC Office of Planning’s Sustainability Guidelines for Older and Historic Buildings for more information.

What incentives or assistance will be available to building owners to help figure out the best path to comply with the new standards?

Currently, a building owner can access rebates and incentives or request technical assistance from the DC Sustainable Energy Utility (DCSEU). With the assistance of partners, DOEE supported the development of the Building Innovation Hub that will serve as platform for collaboration across the District’s building industry.

What financing is available to help me pay for the necessary upgrades?

The Act establishes additional funding for and expands the uses of the Sustainable Energy Trust Fund, the source for many of the energy efficiency programs in the District, including those run by the DCSEU. The Act also sets aside dedicated funding for the District’s new Green Bank. Additionally, the District is home to the nation’s oldest Property Assessed Clean Energy program (DC PACE). DOEE will be working with these entities to ensure that the right services and offerings are in place for building owners to finance the upgrades needed to comply with BEPS and achieve the District’s ambitious energy and greenhouse gas reduction goals.

What is the best way to assess the financial impact of compliance with the new regulation?

The cost of energy efficiency upgrades will vary from property to property depending on existing operations and maintenance levels, previous capital improvement projects, the types of mechanical systems present. As a first step, building owners could engage an energy service provider to conduct an energy audit of their building. Check out the Department of Energy’s Guide to Energy Audits for more information about the process.

Will fines or penalties be structured? 

The fine structure has not been determined yet and will be published in the final rules for the program. DOEE looks forward to working with members of the BEPS Task Force in 2020 to determine the structure and amount of fines that will be levied on building owners that fail to comply. As with any enforcement program at DOEE, the ultimate goal is compliance. In order to achieve compliance, the fines will need to be set at a level in which the cost of non-compliance outweighs the cost of compliance. Thus, we anticipate that the fines will be substantial enough that a building owner would not simply pay a fine to DOEE in lieu of implementing the cost-effective energy efficiency upgrades and achieving the required energy savings.

Will building owners be able to apply for an exemption?

DOEE shall establish exemption criteria for qualifying buildings to delay compliance for up to 3 years if the owner demonstrates, to the satisfaction of DOEE, financial distress, change of ownership, vacancy, major renovation, pending demolition, or other acceptable circumstances.  This exemption will be part of the rulemaking process in 2020.

Has DC considered a greenhouse gas emission performance standard instead of focusing on energy?

By January 1, 2023, DOEE is required to publish a report assessing whether the Building Energy Performance Standard should be revised to a standard based on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and if so, recommend a method and timeline for doing so, including any statutory changes needed.

What is this new scorecard I received in the mail?

In late 2019, DOEE sent out its first Energy Benchmarking DC Scorecard, ranking a building’s energy performance against similar property types and providing a high-level estimate of potential cost savings. This is the first indication of where your building’s energy performance ranks in the District. If you are interested in receiving a digital copy of your scorecard, you can request it by completing this form and emailing it to [email protected].

How can I learn more or participate in the rulemaking process?

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