State and Local Policy Database

District of Columbia

State Scorecard Rank


District of Columbia

24.0Scored out of 50Updated 9/2016
State Government
Score: 4 out of 7
State Government Summary List All

The District of Columbia offers a grant to help nonprofits make energy-efficient investments, as well as PACE financing. The District leads by example by requiring energy-efficient public buildings and fleets and benchmarking public buildings as well as privately-owned commercial and multifamily residential buildings. DC funds research focused on energy efficiency through its Green Building Fund Grant Program.

Financial Incentives List All

Financial Incentive information for the District of Columbia is provided by the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE District of Columbiaand State Energy Office contacts. Information about additional incentives not present on DSIRE is listed here. In addition to the state-funded incentives on DSIRE and below, DC has enabled Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing and has one active program. For additional information on PACE, visit PACENation.

Green Light Grant Program: The program provides funding to research projects related to green buildilngs, including efficiency-related measures such as urban heat islands and zero-energy homes. The program provides funding to nonprofit organizations, government agencies  or universities/higher educational institutions in order to meet the ambitious goals related to green buildings set out in the Mayor's Sustainable DC Plan.

Last Updated: July 2016

Building Energy Disclosure List All
  • Building type(s) affected: commercial, residential multifamily

The Clean and Affordable Energy Act of 2008 requires that the energy and water performance of public buildings over 10,000 gross square feet and privately-owned commercial and multifamily residential buildings over 50,000 gross square feet be benchmarked using ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager® and the results reported annually to the District of Columbia Department of the Environment for public disclosure. Results from DC Government buildings are available in the Build Smart DC database. Results from privately-owned buildings are available in the District of Columbia Open Data Portal.

The District of Columbia mandated, in the Sustainable DC Act of 2014, that both electric and gas utilities provide aggregated whole-building data upon request to a building owner, and make that data available as a download and though automated upload to ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager®. The District was the first jurisdiction in the nation to put such a requirement into law.  

Last Updated: July 2016

Public Building Requirements List All

The District of Columbia is a partner with the Better Buildings Challenge and has set a goal of reducing energy use by 20% across the portfolio by the end of 2020, as formalized in Mayors Order 2013-209. The entire District government portfolio has committed to the US DOE Better Buildings Challenge to reduce energy use by 20% by 2020. The Sustainable DC Plan sets a goal of reducing energy use in DC government buildings (and citywide) by 50% by 2032. Numerous pilot initiatives, assessments, and retrofits have already been executed to reduce energy use. Many of these projects have showed a 15% improvement in electricity consumption and some have reached 25% savings.

In July 2008, the District of Columbia passed Clean and Affordable Energy Act of 2008, which requires D.C. government buildings and large private commercial buildings to be benchmarked annually using ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, and requires the disclosure of benchmarking results. Approximately 64% of public building square footage is benchmarked through Portfolio Manager. The District Department of Energy and the Environment (DOEE) and the Department of General Services (DGS) also voluntarily disclose benchmarking results for all DGS-managed properties and detailed 15-minute interval power consumption data for select properties on 

The Green Building Act of 2006 requires new city building designs to earn an ENERGY STAR target finder score of at least 75 and that new city buildings be ENERGY STAR benchmarked annually.

The District Government has benchmarked 91.7% of government-owned floor area. The Government of the District of Columbia owns 36,466,799 square feet of building floor area, according to the Office of Tax and Revenue. Of this, an area of 33,430,348 sq/ft is benchmarked in ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager up through the end of 2014. 

Last Updated: July 2016

Fleets List All

The District requires newly purchased or leased fleet vehicles to be of the maximum fuel efficiency, minimum size, and appropriate engine size necessary to meet operational needs (District Municipal Regulation, Title 27, Section 2116). The policy also requires a minimum of at least 22 miles per gallon (D.C. Code § 50-203) and limits the purchase of SUVs unless they are to be used for security, emergency, rescue, snow removal, or armored vehicles. 

District Municipal Regulation, Title 27, Section 2116 mandates the use of compact size, passenger vehicles for District government operations. Any exceptions must be justified based on a program needs and approved by the Director of the Department of Public Works (DPW).  The Director of DPW has imposed a policy for every new vehicle purchased or leased; the same number of vehicles must be surrendered for removal from the fleet (one-for-one replacement). The DPW also utilizes right-sizing.

The DC Fleet Share program reduces fleet size and vehicle miles traveled and improves fuel efficiency. It comprises 85 government-owned vehicles, 98% of which are CNGs, hybrids, and E-85s including 4 all electric vehicles. The program has resulted in reducing 360 passenger vehicles from the fleet, or 17% of the fleet’s passenger vehicles. The program also helps reduce frivolous driving as agency managers can track vehicle usage in real time, detect whether or not a vehicle is left running, and the miles travelled for each reservation. The fleet also includes non-vehicle alternatives including segways, mountain bikes, and scooters which has allowed the District to avoid the use of fuel for the equivalent of 50 vehicles.

Last Updated: July 2016

Energy Savings Performance Contracting List All

The District Department of the Environment has a Request for Applications for a Green Bank that will rely on energy savings performance contracting (ESPCs) and is currently considering similar proposals to gain energy savings using ESPCs.

Last Updated: July 2016

Research & Development List All

The Green Building Fund Grant program “green” the built environment in the District of Columbia. Grant projects focus on research, data analysis, training, or engagement help the District lead the way in enacting innovative policies that drive toward greater social, environmental and economic sustainability for our city. Since the program launched in 2013, over $1.7 million has been invested in fifteen projects. These innovative research programs provide the necessary backbone for creation of informed public policies that will help build the truly sustainable city. In 2015, DC administered 7 grant projects. The projects that focus on increasing energy efficiency include the Sustainable DC Challenge, which focuses on businesses and commercial properties; Power Down DC ,which focuses on the multifamily residential market; a Green Finance study, which analyzed and made recommendations for implementing a suite of financial programs that would increase energy efficiency, including the creation of a green bank and incentives for deep green buildings; the Energy Benchmarking Quality Assurance project; and the Greening the MLS study, which investigated the use of green fields in the MLS and automatic disclosure of utility data for current listings. In addition, the draft Comprehensive Energy Plan is investigating new energy efficiency measures that should take place in order to help meet the Sustainable DC Plan, and will provide specific action items including policy recommendations to increase energy efficiency of buildings. DOEE is also formally investigating energy efficiency measures that can be taken with respect to the electric and natural gas distribution systems in connection with Formal Case 1130 (Modernizing Energy Delivery System for Increased Sustainability) and Formal Case 1137 (Washington Gas's base rate filing).

Last Updated: July 2016

Score: 6 out of 7
Buildings Summary List All

Washington, DC requires compliance with the 2012 IECC and ASHRAE 90.1-2010 for residential and commercial buildings, and requires large new construction to comply with the IgCC. DC has begun reviewing 2015 codes. Code compliance and outreach efforts are led by the District Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs' Green Building Division. 

Residential Codes List All

Washington DC's energy codes are mandatory across the District. For residential buildings, builders must comply with the 2013 DC Energy Conservation code, which is roughly equivalent to the 2012 IECC.

Last Updated: June 2016

Commercial Code List All

Washington DC's energy codes are mandatory across the District. For commercial buildings, builders must again comply with the 2013 DC Energy Conservation Code, which is based on ASHRAE 90.1-2010 and 2012 IECC-Commercial. The District also has a Green Construction Code that enhances energy efficiency requirements in addition to the energy code.  It applies to all commercial construction projects 10,000 square feet and larger and all residential projects that are 10,000 square feet and larger and four stories or higher.

Last Updated: June 2016

Compliance List All
  • Gap Analysis/Strategic Compliance Plan: The District Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) established the Green Building Division in late winter of 2013 to specifically focus on the strategic assessment and implementation of the 2013 DC Energy Code, 2013 Green Code, the Green Building Act, and other related regulations in the city. Based on the findings of a 2014 energy compliance baseline study, the Green Building Division built out a strategic plan and has built and staffed an entirely new enforcement program with eight full time employees from early 2013 until now.
  • Baseline & Updated Compliance Studies: In 2014, DCRA worked with the Institute of Market Transformation to conduct an analysis of the rate energy code compliance and to make recommendations on how to increase energy code compliance. The audit relied upon the City Energy Project Assessment Methodology for medium to large cities.  This methodology helps to provide an informal energy code compliance rate, and is not intended to be statistically valid.  
  • Utility Involvement: NA
  • Stakeholder Advisory Group: The Construction Codes Coordinating Board (CCCB), housed with DCRA and whose membership includes District government and private-industry experts, drafted the strategic changes. More than 100 individuals, including architects, engineers, contractors, property managers, real estate developers and government regulators, contributed their time, through Technical Advisory Group meetings, to ensure the most appropriate codes possible. Other active stakeholder groups include the Residential Code and Residential Energy Code Technical Advisory Group, the Commericial Energy and Green Code Technical Advisory Group, and the Green Building Advisory Council
  • Training/Outreach: DCRA provides monthly green building trainings, twice-a-month residential energy code workshops, lunch-and-learn events with local architectural and engineering firms, speaking at local conferences and community events.  Work is also ongoing to develop a new DC Code Academy that will be offering a variety of green building related courses to code officials.  DCRA and DDOE also worked together to create to create a Green Building Roadmap to make it easier for teams to figure out what laws and codes they need to comply with.

Last Updated: June 2016

Score: 1 out of 4
CHP Summary List All

The district offers incentives for CHP projects and has an interconnection standard, but otherwise has limited policies to encourage CHP. Two new CHP systems were installed in 2015.

Interconnection StandardsList All

Policy: District of Columbia Small Generator Interconnection Rules (DCSGIR)

Description: In February 2009, the District of Columbia Public Service Commission (DCPSC) adopted interconnection regulations that apply to systems up to 10 MW that are operated in parallel with the electric distribution system and not subject to the interconnection requirements of PJM. Four tiers are laid out with various criteria systems seeking to interconnect. IEEE 1547 is generally used as a technical standard for evaluation. External disconnect switches are not required for systems below 10 kW, but are required for all other systems. Systems larger than 1 MW require liability insurance.

Last Updated: June 2016

Encouraging CHP as a ResourceList All

There are currently no state policies designed to acquire energy savings from CHP (like other efficiency resources) or energy generation from CHP (in terms of kWh production) that apply to all forms of CHP.

Last Updated: June 2016

Deployment IncentivesList All

Incentives, grants, or financing: Cogeneration Personal Property Tax Credit helps provide a 100% personal property tax exemption for cogeneration facilities within the District. Owners of cogeneration equipment used for developments of more than one million square feet are eligible if the fuel used to generate power was previously subject to a D.C. tax.

Net metering: District of Columbia Net Metering provides compensation for customers' monthly net excess generation (NEG) depending on the size of the generator. For smaller systems under 100 kW, NEG is credited to the customer's next bill at the full retail rate and for systems over 100 kW, NEG is credited to the customer's bill at the generation rate.

Last Updated: June 2016

Additional Supportive PoliciesList All

There are currently no additional supportive policies to encourage CHP.

Last Updated: June 2016

Score: 5.5 out of 20
Utilities Summary List All

The District of Columbia has had customer energy efficiency programs funded by a systems benefits charge and administered by the District of Columbia Energy Office since a 2005 decision by the DC Public Service Commission. This fund, the Reliable Energy Trust Fund, was created as a result of the District's 1999 Retail Electric Competition and Consumer Protection Act. The fund has supported a variety of programs and services since it was established in 2005. Initial funding in 2006 was about $8 million.

In 2008, the District of Columbia enacted the Clean and Affordable Energy Act, which eliminated the Reliable Energy Trust Fund and replaced it with the Sustainable Energy Trust Fund. This fund is administered by DC's third-party "Sustainable Energy Utility" (DCSEU) with an initial budget of $7.5 million in 2009. The District Department of the Environment estimated the total electric energy efficiency budget for 2010 was approximately $9.4 million. 

Responsibility for the implementation of energy efficiency programs was transferred from PEPCO to DCSEU in 2011.  The most recent budgets for energy efficiency programs and electricity and natural gas savings can be found in the State Spending and Savings Tables. 

Last updated: September 2016

Customer Energy Efficiency Programs List All

The District of Columbia has had customer energy efficiency programs funded by a systems benefits charge since a 2005 decision by the Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia. The Reliable Energy Trust Fund was created as a result of authorization included in the District's 1999 "Retail Electric Competition and Consumer Protection Act." The fund had supported a variety of programs and services since 2005. Program services included energy awareness programs, rebates for efficient appliances, and low-income energy assistance.

In December 2008, the DC Public Service Commission approved five demand-side management programs. These programs were initially implemented by Potomac Electric Power Company (PEPCO), the local investor-owned utility.

In 2008, the District of Columbia enacted the Clean and Affordable Energy Act, which effectively eliminated the Reliable Energy Trust Fund and replaced it with a new fund, the Sustainable Energy Trust Fund. This fund is administered by the District Department of the Environment, and it funds DC's third-party "Sustainable Energy Utility" (DCSEU). Responsibility for the implementation of energy efficiency programs was transferred from PEPCO to DCSEU in 2011.

The most recent budgets for energy efficiency programs and electricity and natural gas savings can be found in the State Spending and Savings Tables.

Last Updated: September 2016

Energy Efficiency as a Resource List All
Energy efficiency is considered the primary resource in Department of Energy & Environment's draft Comprehensive Energy Plan.  In addition, DC SEU has been bidding aggregated energy efficiency measures into PJM's capacity market with DOEE's full support.
For more information on energy efficiency as a resource, click here.
Last Updated: June 2016
Energy Efficiency Resource Standards List All

Laws allow for multi-year performance contracts, and as a result DCSEU will be able to operate on a multi-year contract with a 5-year base period and another 5-year extension period.  This contract has energy use reduction targets for electricity and natural gas. The target is 0.85% of 2009 electric and gas consumption in D.C. However, this goal is not mandatory and DCSEU earns performance compensation at levels below that. Currently the DCSEU is on a one-year contract.

For more information on Energy Efficiency Resource Standards, click here.

Last Updated: September 2016

Utility Business Model List All

In September 2009, Potomac Electric Power Company (PEPCO) received approval for its Bill Stabilization Adjustment which would implement electric revenue decoupling. (Case No. 1053, Order No. 15556).

In April 2016, Washington Gas filed a request for decoupling in Formal Case 1137, and the proceeding is ongoing.

The DC Council adopted the Clean and Affordable Energy Act (CAEA) of 2008 effective October 1, 2008 which authorizes the Energy Office to contract with a “Sustainable Energy Utility” (SEU) for the implementation of energy efficiency programs.  Section 202 of the CAEA, codified at section 8-1774.02, specifies that the contract between the District Department of the Environment and the SEU “shall be performance based and shall provide financial incentives for the SEU to surpass the performance benchmarks set forth in the SEU contract.  The SEU contract shall also provide financial penalties to be applied to the SEU if the SEU fails to meet the required performance benchmarks.”

Last Updated: September 2016

Evaluation, Measurement, & Verification List All
  • Cost-effectiveness test(s) used: SCT
  • Uses a deemed savings database: no

Evaluation of ratepayer-funded energy efficiency programs in the District of Columbia is mandated by legislation (Clean and Affordable Energy Act of 2008). Evaluations are administered the District Department of the Environment using an independent contractor. DCSEU's FY 2013 portfolio of programs is cost effective, with a benefit cost ratio of 4.54, according to the Tetra Tech Evaluation report for DCSEU FY13 Annual Performance Benchmarks Final. There are no specific legal requirements for these evaluations. Evaluations are conducted for the portfolio of programs administered by the DCSEU. The District of Columbia relies on the Social Cost Test (SCT) and considers it to be its primary cost-effectiveness test. The rules for benefit-cost tests are stated in the Clean and Affordable Energy Act of 2008. These benefit-cost tests are required for overall portfolio screening.

Last Updated: September 2016

Guidelines for Low-Income Energy Efficiency Programs List All

Requirements for State and Utility Support of Low-Income Energy Efficiency Programs

The DC Council adopted the Clean and Affordable Energy Act (CAEA) of 2008 effective October 1, 2008, which authorizes the Energy Office to contract with a DC “Sustainable Energy Utility” (SEU) for the implementation of energy efficiency programs. The legislation also established a separate Energy Assistance Trust Fund (EATF) to be used solely to fund: “(1) the existing low-income programs in the amount of $3.3 million annually; and (2) the Residential Aid Discount subsidy in the amount of $3 million annually.” Sec. 201 of the legislation specifies that the contract with DC SEU shall “improve the energy efficiency of low-income housing in the District of Columbia.”

Cost-Effectiveness Rules for Low-Income Energy Efficiency Programs

While no specific rules are in place for low-income programs, programs that are not cost effective may be included in DCSEU’s portfolio as long as the overall portfolio is cost effective based on the societal cost test. A 10% adder is applied to program benefits to account for additional non-energy benefits including comfort, noise reduction, aesthetics, health and safety, ease of selling/leasing home or building, improved occupant productivity, reduced work absences due to reduced illnesses, ability to stay in home/avoid moves, and macroeconomic benefits.

Coordination of Ratepayer-Funded Low-Income Programs with WAP Services

The federal Weatherization Assistance Program is administered by the Department of Energy & Environment’s Energy Administration Energy Efficiency and Conservation Branch (EECB), which leverages 15% of its WAP grant to seek additional funds from the DC SEU and local District General Funds, to supplement WAP and increase the number of homes to be weatherized.

Last updated: April 2017

Self Direct and Opt-Out Programs List All

DC does not allow for large customers to self-direct the funds they would have paid for energy efficiency, nor to opt-out entirely from participating in energy efficiency programs. 

Last updated: July 2016

Data AccessList All

Guidelines for Third Party Access

DC has benchmarking laws and regulations that allows for third party access to aggregated customer use data.  All publicly owned buildings over 10,000 SF and all commercial and multi-family buildings over 50,000 SF must report their monthly consumption data. This information is available to the public on  

Requirements for Provision of Energy Use Data

Aggregated benchmarked data that have been screened for privacy and security concerns are available to the public in CSV format via online.  

Energy Use Data Availability

Billing data related to energy consumption is available in intervals as small as 15 minutes and include a 24-month usage history.

Last Updated: September 2016


Score: 7.5 out of 10
Transportation Summary List All

Tailpipe emissions standards and incentives for high efficiency vehicles are in place. The District allocated a notable amount of funding for transportation.

Tailpipe Emission Standards List All

DC adopted California’s Low-Emission Vehicle Program in 2005, committing to a 30% reduction in average new vehicle greenhouse gas emissions from 2002 levels by 2016. DC has also adopted California's Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) program, which requires increasing production of plug-in hybrid, battery electric, and fuel-cell vehicles from 2018 to 2025. 

Last Updated: July 2015

Transportation System Efficiency List All

Transportation and Land use Integration: The District of Columbia's Zoning Regulations (DCMR Title 11) include numerous provisions to encourage sustainable, compact, accessible development. These include density bonuses in commercial corridors and downtown; reduction of parking requirements in transit-adjacent areas; numerous mixed-use zones; requirements for both short- and long-term bicycle parking; allowance of accessory dwelling units and small-scale commercial activity in lower-density residential zones. 

VMT Targets: No policy in place or proposed.

Complete Streets: DC Department of Transportation has a complete streets policy in place that accomodates all modes of transportation in the maintenance and construction of roads.

MAP 21 Freight Plans and Goals: The District of Columbia has a comprehensive freight plan. 

Last Updated: June 2016

Transit Funding List All

No policy in place or proposed.

Last Updated: July 2015

Incentives for High-Efficiency Vehicles List All

The District of Columbia allows owners of Alternative Fuel Vehicles (AFV) and vehicles that achieve an estimated average city fuel economy of 40mpg according to the EPA to be exempt from vehicle excise taxes. Reduced vehicle registration fees also apply to owners of such vehicles.

Last Updated: July 2015

Appliance Standards
Score: 0 out of 2
Appliance Standards Summary List All

Policy: D.C. Codes § 8-1771; Energy Efficiency Standards Act of 2007

Description: In 2007 the District of Columbia introduced legislation, titled the Energy Efficiency Standards Act of 2007, which created standards for six products. On January 1st, 2009, four of these standards were preempted by the federal standards included in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. D.C. continues to enforce standards on two products: bottle-type water dispensers and commercial hot-food holding cabinets.

Last Updated: July 2016