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BUILDING CODES

& ENERGY EFFICIENCY:
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Updated February 1, 2010

B
uildings account for roughly 40 percent of the
total energy use in the United States and 70 per-
cent of our electricity use, representing a signifi-
cant opportunity for energy savings. Energy efficiency—
through the adoption and enforcement of strong building
energy codes – is the quickest, cheapest, and cleanest way
to reduce energy consumption and achieve a sustainable
and prosperous future. For most jurisdictions, the first
step has been to adopt the U.S. model energy codes – the
2009 International Energy Conservation Code (2009
IECC) and ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2007.
In February 2009, the American Recovery and Rein-
vestment Act (Recovery Act) – the federal stimulus leg-
islation appropriating funds for a variety of state initia- By implementing standards equivalent to the model
tives – allocated $3.1 billion for the U.S. Department of codes beginning in 2009, District businesses and
Energy’s State Energy Program (SEP) to assist states with homeowners will save an estimated $19 million an-
building energy efficiency projects. As one of the require- nually by 2020 and an estimated $37 million annu-
ments to receive this funding, Mayor Adrian Fenty certi- ally by 2030 in energy costs (based on 2006 energy
fied to DOE1 that the District of Columbia would imple- prices).
ment energy standards of equal or greater stringency than
the latest national model codes – the 2009 edition of the Additionally, implementing these new codes will help
IECC and Standard 90.1-2007. Having already received avoid almost 5 trillion Btu of primary annual en-
$11 million2 out of a total $22 million in SEP funds, ergy use by 2030 and annual emissions of more than
Washington has pursued the District’s best economic in- 300,000 metric tons of CO2 by 2030.
terest by adopting modern building energy codes.
OTHER BENEFITS OF THE MODEL CODES
THE IMPACT OF THE MODEL ENERGY CODES
The successful implementation of and compliance with
The District’s new energy code meets, and in some ele-
the national model codes also produces multiple eco-
ments surpasses, the 2009 IECC.3 Additionally, the code
nomic and environmental benefits and gains for the
substantially improves upon Washington’s previous code,
making it simpler to provide District households and building and utility industries:
businesses lower utility costs, increased comfort, and bet- New and renovated construction over 30 percent more
ter economic opportunity. A limited DOE analysis4 of the energy efficient than typical buildings not constructed
changes from states’ current residential codes to the 2009 to meet national model energy standards
IECC resulted in estimated energy cost savings rang-
ing from 5-20 percent in most states for an average new Expansion of the District’s economy by keeping local
house at recent fuel prices. Another DOE analysis5 of the dollars in Washington
changes from the District’s previous commercial code
estimates energy savings of 5-6 percent from Standard Simplified guidelines for builders and designers, cost-
90.1-2007. effectiveness optimization, and uniformity throughout
the District
According to models created by the Building Codes As-
sistance Project, Washington is poised to make substan- Improved indoor/outdoor air quality and reduced
tial economic and environmental gains in the next two greenhouse gas emissions from lower demand for elec-
decades by embracing building energy efficiency: tricity, natural gas, and heating oil
1850 M St. NW Suite 600
Washington, DC 20036
www.bcap-ocean.org
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: BEYOND THE MODEL ENERGY CODE
AUTOMATIC ENERGY CODE STATUTE UPDATES

The D.C. Green Building Act of 2006 requires that
by January 1, 2010, and after at least every 3 years
by January 1 of the relevant year, the Mayor shall
submit to the Council for approval code revisions
that contain ―as many green building practices as
practicable for the Washington, D.C. urban environ-
ment.‖10
The 2012 edition of the IECC is expected to be pub-
lished in January 2011. When states regularly up-
The District’s commercial built environment will have a date and enforce their energy codes, they ensure
major impact on future city energy policy the consistency and continued enhancement of the
(Credit—Carol M. Highsmith) benefits of model building practice.

T
he District of Columbia’s minimum manda- REMOVE CONTRADICTORY COMPLIANCE OPTIONS
tory energy standards are codified in the
Many states have adopted the 2009 International
2008 D.C. Construction Codes6. In Decem-
Residential Code (2009 IRC) along with the IECC.
ber 2008, in coordination with the D.C. Green
For various reasons, however, many builders use the
Building Advisory Council (GBAC), the City Coun-
energy efficiency standards (Chapter 11) of the IRC,
cil adopted new energy codes based on the “30%
which DOE has stated is not equivalent to the IECC
Solution”7 for residential buildings (estimated to be
and does not comply with Recovery Act require-
more stringent than the 2009 IECC) and ASHRAE
ments.11 States can avoid contradictory compliance
Standard 90.1-2007 for nonresidential buildings.
options by deleting Chapter 11 of the IRC and
The new codes also contain several green amend-
replacing it with a reference to the 2009 IECC, as
ments, including cool roofs, on-site storm water re-
the 2010 Maryland Building Performance Standards
tention, and low-flow residential and commercial
(MBPS) has done.12
plumbing fixtures.8
Adoption, however, is only the first step. The Dis- MANDATORY GREEN BUILDING CODE
trict must now implement its new code. As another
In January 2010, California adopted the nation’s
condition of accepting the Recovery Act SEP funds,
first mandatory green building standards, known
states must achieve compliance with these new stan-
as CALGreen.13 Effective in 2011, the new code
dards in 90 percent of new and renovated residential
will require all new buildings to reduce indoor water
and commercial building space by 2017.9
use by 20 percent and divert 50 percent of construc-
Additionally, the District should consider following tion waste from landfills. CALGreen also mandates
the example of other jurisdictions that have proven inspections of energy systems for large nonresiden-
to be leaders in energy efficiency by continuing to tial buildings and the use of low-pollutant emitting
develop and adopt innovative policies that go be- interior finish materials such as paints, carpet, vinyl
yond the national model codes. flooring, and particle board.
** NOTES ** For more information, please visit www.bcap-ocean.org.
1 7
US DOE (http://bcap-ocean.org/sites/default/files/District of Columbia - EECC (http://www.thirtypercentsolution.org)
8
Fenty.pdf) IMT (http://www.green.dc.gov/green/lib/green/pdfs/Green_b-codes.pdf)
2 9
US DOE (http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/news/progress_alerts.cfm/pa_id=225) American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Sec. 410 (2) (c)
3 10
BCAP (http://bcap-energy.org/node/330) D.C. Green Building Act of 2006, Sec. 13 (a), (b) (http://bcap-ocean.org/sites/
4
US DOE (http://www.energycodes.gov/implement/state_codes/reports/ default/files/DC_GreenBuildingAct_2006.pdf)
11
IECC2009_Residential_Nationwide_Analysis.pdf) US DOE (http://www.energycodes.gov/news/irc_iecc_arra.stm)
5 12
US DOE (http://www.energycodes.gov/implement/state_codes/reports/90-1- MD Codes Admin. (http://mdcodes.umbc.edu/dhcd2/mbps.html)
13
2007_Commercial_Nationwide_Analysis.pdf) (pages 39-40) CA BSC (http://bcap-ocean.org/news/2010/january/21/california-adopts-
6
BCAP (http://bcap-ocean.org/state-country/district-columbia) nations-first-mandatory-green-building-standards)

1850 M St. NW Suite 600
Washington, DC 20036
www.bcap-ocean.org