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Green Building in the District

Green building is an approach to design, construction and operations that conserves resources while it protects human health. Green buildings use less energy, consume fewer natural resources, and emit fewer pollutants into the environment. The District is a national leader in green building, which supports the vision set forth in the Sustainable DC 2.0 Plan. By continually encouraging market transformation, funding research that promotes innovation, and collaborating with the community and private sector on best practices DC will remain a leader in protecting our planet.

Green Building Policy

Green Building Fund Grant Program

DOEE has created a Green Building Fund Grant Program to support innovative projects to “green” the built environment in the District. Grant projects include those that concentrate on research, data analysis, training, or engagement that help the District lead the way in enacting innovative policies that drive toward greater social, environmental, and economic sustainability for our city. Learn more about the Green Building Fund Grant Program.

Net-Zero Energy Buildings

Net-zero energy (NZE) buildings generate as much clean energy as they consume, annually. These buildings minimize their greenhouse gas contributions, are cheaper to operate, provide healthier and more pleasant places to live, work and play, and will be increasingly important components of the District’s climate action plan. DC is taking an efficiency first approach to defining NZE buildings, ensuring that they first focus on driving their energy consumption as low as possible. Renewable energy can be generated either on- or off-site, acknowledging that not all buildings can supply their own energy.

The Clean Energy DC Building Code Amendment Act calls for the District to adopt an NZE building code by 2026 that applies to the new construction or substantial improvement of any building subject to the Commercial Provisions of the DC Energy Conservation Code, including commercial buildings and residential buildings taller than 3 stories.

The Greener Government Buildings Amendment Act requires District-owned and -financed new construction and substantial improvement projects to be all-electric and adhere to NZE standards. For a detailed breakdown of the law, visit this resource from the Building Innovation Hub.

Appendix Z is the District’s current, voluntary NZE building code. It is an alternative pathway for buildings to comply with the 2017 DC Energy Conservation Code. Appendix Z defines an NZE building as “a highly energy-efficient building that produces on-site, or procures through the construction of new renewable energy generation, enough energy to meet or exceed the annual energy consumption of its operations.”

Local Resources

National Resources

Incentives and Financing

  • DC Sustainable Energy Utility (DCSEU)
    Rebates, incentives, direct-installs, and technical assistance for above code energy saving projects on all building types. DCSEU also offers training, credentialing, and certification courses to District businesses to expand the local green workforce and local business opportunities.
  • DC Green Bank
    The goal of the DC Green Bank is to accelerate energy efficiency improvements and the deployment of clean energy technology by leveraging private investment, removing up-front costs, and increasing the efficiency of public dollars.
  • DC PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) Financing
    Affordable, long-term funding for building upgrades and new construction that reduces utility bills and operating costs. Projects can receive up to 100% financing with no upfront costs to cover energy, water, and stormwater upgrades.
  • Affordable Housing Retrofit Accelerator
    Enhanced technical and financial assistance to owners and managers of qualifying affordable multifamily buildings that do not meet the District’s Building Energy Performance Standards (BEPS).
  • DOB Net-Zero Energy Program
    Permitting assistance for residential projects pursuing net-zero energy.
  • DOEE RiverSmart
    Financial incentives to help District property owners install green infrastructure such as rain barrels, green roofs, rain gardens, permeable pavers, shade trees, and more.

Case Studies

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