Washington sets the pace for other states with the nation’s strongest building performance law, and incentivizes early compliance

by Brianna Crandall — July 14, 2021 — Washington state enacted the nation’s strongest building performance law in 2019, leading the way for other states in energy efficiency requirements. The state is now providing assistance to eligible building owners who comply with the energy performance standards in advance of mandatory deadlines. Early compliance is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save energy consumption, which also will save operating costs.

The Clean Buildings law, which authorized the program, requires certain commercial buildings to comply with state energy performance standards.  This standard is based on ANSI/ASHRAE/IES Standard 100–2018, Energy Efficiency in Existing Buildings, with amendments.

Through a partnership agreement with the Washington State Department of Commerce, global Washington State Department of Commerce logobuilding technology professionals society ASHRAE has developed a custom version of Standard 100-2018 incorporating the state-specific changes, to be readily used by building owners, engineers, and facilities managers (FMs) to comply with the Washington Clean Buildings law. This customized version will also facilitate the early adoption path.

Washington state’s mandatory building performance standards for existing buildings is the first statewide rule, with ASHRAE’s standard providing a vital technical underpinning, says the group. Improving the energy performance of existing buildings is critical to reducing carbon emissions, and ASHRAE Standard 100 will help the state achieve its important climate objectives.

2021-22 ASHRAE President Mick Schwedler, P.E., ASHRAE Fellow, LEED AP, remarked:

This collaboration between ASHRAE and Washington state is an example for other states to follow with regard to improving energy performance in existing commercial buildings. We are excited to partner with Washington state in implementing its statewide building performance standards.

Washington State Commerce Director Lisa Brown commented:

Washington is proud to be implementing the nation’s strongest Clean Buildings law. Our 2021 State Energy Strategy identifies energy efficiency in buildings as an essential strategy for transforming and decarbonizing our energy future. Investing in energy efficiency will strengthen local communities and help businesses lower energy costs.

Some targets of the standard include:

  • Applicable to nonresidential, hotel, motel, and dormitory buildings greater than 50,000 SF
  • Compliance is a building owner obligation
  • Clearly defined energy performance targets
  • Utilization targets based on regional energy use data and site-based energy
  • Ongoing energy benchmarking
  • Building owner compliance is ongoing and updated on a five-year cycle
  • Reporting to Washington State Department of Commerce is required beginning in 2026
  • Early adopter incentive available to all commercial and multifamily buildings over 50,000 SF to encourage early action

As the standard is utilized, ASHRAE will collaborate with the Washington State Department of Commerce on specific educational opportunities related to Standard 100 and Standard 211, also adopted in Washington state’s Clean Buildings bill. Find out more about the Early Adopter Incentive Program online.