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GAR Construction Compliance & Certificate of Occupancy

The Certified Landscape Expert (CLE) is required to sign off that all Green Area Ratio (GAR) landscape elements have been installed according to the approved plan. The approved landscape management plan must be given to the property owner prior to project completion.

Online approval of the GAR Landscape Checklist is now available through the DOEE’s Surface and Groundwater System (SGS). The CLE coordinates with the DOEE inspector for the project to confirm whether the CLE will attend the final inspection or if the CLE will have a representative attend final inspection. The GAR Landscape Checklist will not be signed by the DOEE inspector until a final inspection has occurred and the inspector and CLE verify that all landscape elements are installed according to the approved GAR plan.

The final/permanent Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) will not be granted until the signed Landscape Checklist is received by the Office of Zoning Administrator.

A Temporary/Conditional C of O may be considered on a case-by-case basis due to construction schedule, seasonal conditions, and/or weather delays. A Temporary/Conditional C of O is issued by the Office of Zoning Administrator with input from the DOEE inspector. Reach out to your project’s DOEE inspector to discuss potential GAR Temporary/Conditional C of O applicability.

To request an inspection and signoff of the Landscape Checklist, contact DOEE’s Inspection and Enforcement Division, Construction and Maintenance Branch (CMB).

CLEs should follow the instructions below to receive final GAR construction approval as expediently as possible.

  1. Before the CLE can sign the GAR Checklist statement, they must create a DOEE Surface and Groundwater System (SGS) account, if they do not have one already. The CLE must go to the SGS to create an account. The email entered in the CLE information section of the project must match the email associated with the CLE’s account. Creating an account does not automatically grant the CLE access to projects they are working on in the system (see Step 2).
     
  2. Before signing the checklist statement, the CLE must have their contact information and licensing credentials which meet GAR requirements entered by clicking the "Add/edit CLE information" button on the plan form within the SGS. Only the project owner/agent and those granted access may make changes to a project. Either the CLE must request access to the project from the owner/agent, or the owner/agent may make the changes for the CLE.

    a. During plan entry, the project owner/agent enters the CLE information by clicking the "Add/edit CLE information" button on the plan form. If the construction CLE is unknown at the time, then the design CLE's information will automatically populate the construction section. A database error will appear preventing plan approval if the credentials are not provided.

    b. If the project was approved prior to May 5, 2020, then the CLE's credential information must be entered in the SGS before signing the GAR checklist. On the plan form, click the "Add/edit CLE information" button to add the required information before signing the GAR Checklist.
     
  3. When the CLE and DOEE's inspector complete the final GAR inspection, the CLE will receive an email requesting their signature on the landscape checklist. The CLE will click the link in the email and enter their login credentials.
     
  4. On the page that opens, click the “Edit” button at the top of the page, then complete all required questions on the landscape checklist. The SGS will automatically fill the credential information into the GAR Checklist. When the form is saved the CLE's electronic signature will be applied.
  5. Once the CLE saves the form, the DOEE inspector can sign the landscape checklist. After this is done the CLE will receive a completed copy of the GAR Landscape Checklist via email.

Post-construction Compliance and Maintenance

The property owner is required to maintain the GAR score at or above the minimum level set in the regulations.

Should the GAR score fall below the minimum score, other GAR landscape elements can be substituted to achieve an appropriate score. This process does not require plan re-submittal. Owners are encouraged to work with a qualified professional familiar with GAR to make landscape element substitutions or revisions. Projects undergoing new development or major renovations with an existing GAR plan are required to submit a new GAR plan for approval with their new building permit package.

Complaints regarding a non-compliant GAR property should be directed to the Zoning Enforcement Officers through the Office of Zoning Administrator general contact information; however, effort should be made to maintain compliance prior to making a complaint. Projects which continue to not maintain the minimum GAR requirements are subject to zoning infractions per Title 16 DCMR § 3315 (2019).