State and Local Policy Database

Washington

City Scorecard Rank

3

Washington, DC

71.50Scored out of 100Updated 10/2020
Community-Wide Initiatives
Score: 9.5 out of 15 points
Community-Wide Climate Mitigation and Energy GoalsList All

Climate Mitigation Goal

The Climate Commitment Act of 2022 codified and accelerated the District's climate commitments, to citywide carbon neutrality by 2045 with a first interim target of a 45% reduction from the 2006 baseline by 2025. Based on ACEEE’s analysis of past years emissions data, ACEEE projects that the city will not meet its near-term community-wide GHG emissions reduction goal.  

The District’s Department of Energy & Environment releases greenhouse gas inventories.

Energy Efficiency Goal

The Sustainable DC plan included a goal to cut citywide energy use 50% by 2032. The plan included an additional goal to meet net-zero energy standards with all new developments. 

Renewable Energy Goal

The District’s Clean Energy DC Omnibus Act established a renewable portfolio standard of 100% renewable by 2032, including a 5.5% local solar carve-out. In March 2023, the Local Solar Expansion Amendment Act of 2022 was enacted, increasing the targets to a 9% local solar carve-out by 2032 as part of the 100% RPS. The share of local solar will also increase, to 15% by 2041.

Last updated: August 2023

Equity-Driven Approaches to Clean Energy Planning, Implementation, and EvaluationList All

Equity-Driven Community Engagement

The Sustainable DC plan updating process included speaking to residents that represented the diversity of the city. To make the process most convenient for residents of underserved communities, the city partnered with community organizations to help recruit new participants, held meetings in familiar Metro-accessible venues for communities, and restructured meeting formats to be more casual and accessible. The city also focused community engagement in locations that have been underserved in the past.

Equity-Driven Decision-Making

In partnership with the Georgetown Climate Center, the Department of Energy & Environment created the Equity Advisory Group. The Group consisted of residents and community leaders of Far Northeast Ward 7, where a climate vulnerability analysis showed the community has been uniquely vulnerable to climate-risks due to its proximity to the Watts Branch Tributary of the Anacostia River. The Group was tasked with developing recommendation to be incorporated into the District’s Climate Ready DC Plan and Clean Energy DC Plan. The partnership published a community engagement guide. Work is now underway to focus on developing resilience hubs and workforce development initiatives based on the advisory group’s recommendations.

Equity Accountability Measures

The Racial Equity Achieves Results Act (REACH Act) of 2020 established a new Office of Racial Equity, led by a new Chief Equity Officer, creates a racial equity impact assessment for Council legislation, trains all government employees on racial equity, creates a racial equity tool to ensure District government is accountable, and establishes a Commission to advance racial equity. The Office of Racial Equity will focus on developing an infrastructure to ensure policy decisions and District programs are evaluated through an equity lens. The Chief Equity Officer will collaborate with District agencies, residents, and external stakeholders to make meaningful progress toward a more equitable city. Among the first responsibilities of the Chief Equity Officer will be to conduct an equity analysis of the District to establish government-wide priorities and to build a team to support the implementation of these priorities.

The District Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) is developing a racial equity tool in the implementation and future update of the District’s Sustainable DC plan.

Last updated: August 2023

Clean Distributed Energy ResourcesList All

The District’s Solar for All program aims to expand access to solar power to low-income residents. The program partners with organizations to install on-site solar on single-family homes and community solar projects. For residents to be eligible for participation, household income must be less than 80% of the area median income. A 1 MW installation pursued by the Department of General Services to serve low-income households integrates energy storage. 

The community solar farm at Oxon Run is an innovative use of a degraded 15 acre brownfield site. A total of 2.65 megawatts of clean, solar energy capacity was brought online in December 2020. The system delivers free electricity (offsetting $500 annually) to approximately 750 households in the surrounding community. As of February 2021, the facility is the largest community solar system in the District.

Last updated: August 2023

Mitigation of Heat Islands List All

Urban Heat Island Mitigation Policies and Programs

The city has adopted a private tree protection ordinance.

Washington has extensive low-impact development (LID) requirements and incentives. The District requires real estate development projects to use LID techniques to achieve a required green area ratio. DC’s Construction Code also requires the installation of cool roofs. The District incentivizes green roof installation through the RiverSmart Roof Rebate Program. Through this program, the city offers rebates of $10 to $15 per square foot for voluntary green roof installation. The District further incentives the installation of LID through the Stormwater Retention Credit Trading Program. This program allows developments that use LID practice or remove impervious surfaces to earn revenue by selling Stormwater Retention Credits through the Department of Energy & Environment.

Resilience Hubs

DOEE is currently working with a community partner organization to augment the District's first resilience hub, which will be equipped with solar and battery storage to provide power to residents in the surrounding disadvantaged community, as well as residents of the connected affordable housing apartments.

Last updated: August 2023

Buildings Policies
Score: 19 out of 30 points
Building Energy CodesList All

Overview

Washington, D.C.’s energy codes are mandatory across the District. Residential and commercial construction must comply with the 2017 D.C. Construction Code. The D.C. Construction Code includes the Energy Conservation Code which is more stringent than the 2015 IECC and ASHRAE 90.1-2013. The Construction Code also includes the Green Construction Code which is based on the 2012 International Green Construction Code. The next update to the codes was initiated in February 2022, with a goal of enacting them in early 2024. To learn more about the District of Columbia’s required energy codes, please visit the State Policy Database.

Commercial

Commercial properties comply with the 2017 D.C. Construction Code, which consist of the 2015 International Code Council (ICC) family of model codes, the 2014 National Electrical Code, and 2013 ASHRAE 90.1, as amended by the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations (DCMR) Title 12, Sections A through M. This includes Appendix Z, a voluntary net-zero energy compliance pathway. To comply with Appendix Z, commercial projects must demonstrate a zEPI score of 30 or lower. The city’s zEPI score for their commercial energy code is 50.25.

Residential

Residential buildings comply with the 2017 D.C. Construction Code. The city’s zEPI score for their residential energy code is 62.4.

Solar-readiness policies 

The 2017 DC Construction Codes include a solar-ready requirement for new commercial developments and major alterations or additions. 
 
EV-charging readiness policies 
The Electric Vehicle Readiness Amendment Act of 2019 was signed in 2021 and will require 20% of parking spaces in newly constructed or substantially renovated commercial or multi-unit buildings include EV-ready infrastructure. The Green Construction Code also includes a compliance path with an elective encouraging installation of EV charging infrastructure.
 
Low-energy use requirements

The Green Construction Code applies to all commercial projects 10,000 square feet and larger, and all residential projects 4 stories and higher and 10,000 square feet or larger. The Green Building Act requires that a commercial building over 50,000 square feet must achieve LEED at the Certified level. If a commercial or residential building has received at least 15% of its funding from public sources (broadly defined to include ground leases, TIF districts, etc.) they must achieve Green Communities Certification (residential), LEED at the Silver level (nonresidential), or LEED at the Gold level (Schools). New municipal buildings must achieve LEED Gold or ENERGY STAR 75+ standards. 

Electrification

The Building Code Amendment Act of 2022 (DC B24-0420) mandates a net-zero energy and all-electric energy code be adopted by the District by December 31, 2026. 

Last update: August 2023

Building Energy Code Compliance and EnforcementList All

The District’s Department of Consumer & Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) is responsible for regulating construction in the District, including enforcing the District’s Green Building Act, Green Construction Code, and Energy Conservation Code. DCRA requires plan reviews and inspections for projects, and also allows third-party energy review and inspection with a clear QA/QC process to ensure quality control. The project size determines if performance testing and commissioning is required to meet compliance. We were unable to determine the amount of staff effort dedicated to energy code enforcement. 

The District offers upfront support to projects and developers, including on code compliance, solar, and NZE construction, through webinars, online resources, and a Green Building Professional Seminar Series hosted in partnership with the Department of Energy & Environment. The District supported the launch of the Building Innovation Hub which helps building owners and professionals create and operate high-performance buildings. The Hub provides resources and connections to help building owners, operators, designers, contractors, and tenants improve their buildings. Additionally, an Energy and Green Worksheet has been created to guide designers through the plan development process. As with other trainings, on-demand video training is provided for the new worksheets.

Last Updated: August 2023

Policies Targeting Existing BuildingsList All

Building performance standards

The Clean Energy DC Omnibus Act of 2018 requires the implementation of a building energy performance standard (BEPS) starting with privately-owned buildings 50,000 square feet and larger and District-owned or District instrumentality-owned buildings 10,000 square feet and larger in 2021. Privately-owned buildings 25,000 square feet and larger will be covered in 2023, and buildings 10,000 square feet and larger will be covered in 2026. Buildings will demonstrate that they exceed the local median ENERGY STAR score for their building type, or will be required to follow either a performance or prescriptive pathway to achieve compliance.

Commercial and multifamily benchmarking

The Clean and Affordable Energy Act requires commercial buildings and multifamily buildings over 50,000 square feet to benchmark and publicly disclose energy usage data using ENERGY STAR software. This policy was adopted July 2008, and implementation began in 2010. Disclosure must be done annually, and the District publishes data online. Non-compliance results in a fine. The Act currently covers 49% of commercial and multifamily buildings. The Clean Energy DC Omnibus Act of 2018 lowered the building benchmarking requirement size to 25,000 square feet by 2021 and 10,000 square feet by 2026.

Incentives

Commercial property owners may access property assessed clean energy (C-PACE) financing for energy efficiency improvements and onsite renewable energy generation.

The DC Green Bank has launched its Commercial Loan for Energy Efficiency and Renewables (CLEER) financing, for energy efficiency in non-profit and for-profit buildings. The DC Green Bank also launched a financial product called Navigator that is a pre-development loan that finances analysis and design of energy improvements for multifamily properties. Eligible costs include energy benchmarking, assessments, and audits as well as design, engineering, bidding work, and more.

The DC Sustainable Energy Utility (DCSEU) offers residential and commercial property owners rebates for energy efficient appliances.

Washington previously administered a low-income home weatherization program that invested $25 million in energy efficiency measures and renewable energy installation.

The Solar for All program seeks to provide 100,000 low-income households with solar energy through direct rooftop installation and community solar farms.

The DC Department of Energy and Environment offers financial assistance for projects seeking net-zero design. 

In addition to these existing programs, the Clean Energy DC Omnibus Act of 2018 carves out 30% of revenues for low-income energy actions.

We were not able to verify if the city collects data to ensure equitable program outcomes.

Last Updated: August 2023

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Workforce DevelopmentList All

Workforce development for disadvantaged workers

We could not determine if city has partnered with a local education institution, labor union, or community-based organization to create, support, and/or incentivize the development of clean energy workforce development initiatives that target training and support services for potential or existing workers from disadvantaged communities to obtain and keep in-demand jobs.

Workforce development for the broader community

We could not determine if city has partnered with a local education institution, labor union, or community-based organization to create, support, and/or incentivize the development of clean energy workforce development initiatives that target training and support services for potential or existing workers from the broader community to obtain and keep in-demand jobs.

Outcomes tracking

We could not determine if the city has instituted a mechanism to measure the performance and/or success of equitable workforce development initiatives focused on the clean energy sector.

Last updated: August 2023

Transportation
Score: 24 out of 30 points
Sustainable Transportation Planning List All

Sustainable Transportation Plan

moveDC, the multimodal long-range transportation plan for Washington, D.C., was updated in 2021 and includes sustainable transportation strategies. It also includes strategies specifically benefitting disadvantaged communities. 

VMT/GHG Targets and Stringency

Sustainable DC 2.0 contains a goal to reduce GHG emissions from transportation 60% by 2032 from 2006 levels. The city’s target requires a 4.77% average per-capita annual decrease from its target baseline. Therefore, Washington, D.C. earned 2 points for the stringency of its target.

Progress Achieved Toward VMT/GHG Targets

Washington, D.C. did not provide VMT data collected since the adoption of its goal; therefore, we cannot assess progress toward the goal.

Last Updated: September 2023

Location Efficiency List All

Location Efficient Zoning Codes

We were unable to find information indicating that Washington, D.C. has made changes to its zoning code in the past 10 years to facilitate more residential density, mixed-use development, or transit-oriented development.

Parking Requirement

Washington, D.C. has eliminated parking minimums in certain districts.

Location Efficiency Incentives and Disclosure

Washington, D.C. does not have location-efficient development incentives or disclosure policies.

Affordable Housing around Transit

The city incentivizes affordable housing near transit by prioritizing projects near transit when allocating Low Income Housing Tax Credits to affordable housing developments.

Last Updated: September 2023

Mode Shift List All

Mode Shift Targets

According to Sustainable DC 2.0, the City has a goal of 25% of all commute trips being made by walking and biking, 50% by public transit, and 25% by car by 2032.

Progress Achieved Toward Mode Shift Targets

Based on the data provided, Washington, D.C. has not made progress toward its mode share targets. Therefore, the city did not earn points for this metric.

Subsidized Access to Efficient Transportation Options

Capital Bikeshare, the primary bikeshare operator for Washington, D.C., offers reduces fares through the Capital Bikeshare for All program. Residents who qualify for a state or federal assistance program can get unlimited 60-minute rides on bikes and e-bikes after purchasing the $5 annual membership. 

Last Updated: September 2023

Public Transit List All

Transit Funding

The transit entities that serve Washington, D.C. have received $1,657,751,333.40 on average annually between 2017 and 2021 from local sources. That equates to roughly $337.30 per capita between 2017 and 2021 within the service area. 

Access to Transit Services

The AllTransit Performance Score measures a given community's transit access and performance. The score considers connections to other routes, access to jobs, service frequency, and the percent of commuters who ride transit to work. Washington, D.C.'s AllTransit Performance Score is 9.3, scoring the full 4 points in the City Scorecard.

Last Updated: September 2023

Efficient VehiclesList All

Efficient Vehicle Purchase Incentives

Neither Washington, D.C. nor the local utility provide incentives for purchasing efficient vehicles.

Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Incentives

Washington, D.C. offers tax credits of 50% of the cost of purchasing and installing an EV charging station. For private residences, the tax credit can be up to $1,000 per station, and for non-residential, public-facing properties, it can be up to $10,000 per station.
 

Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Requirements

Washington, D.C. does not require new developments to install EV charging stations.

EV Charging Ports

Washington, D.C. has 98.1 vehicle charging ports per 100,000 people available for public use.

Electric School Bus Goal

Washington, D.C. set a goal of transitioning 100% of its school buses to zero emissions by 2045.

Electric Transit Bus Goal

WMATA, the primary transit agency serving Washington, D.C., set a goal of transitioning 100% of its bus fleet to zero emissions by 2045. WMATA plans to prioritize routes serving communities with poor air quality, as well as those serving primarily low-income riders, disabled riders, or people of color, as it transitions to zero-emission buses.

Last Updated: September 2023

Freight System EfficiencyList All

Sustainable Freight Plans

The 2020 District Department of Transportation Freight Plan Addendum contains several sustainable freight strategies, including exploring and potentially implementing e-bike deliveries and curbside distribution hubs as well as curbside management to improve freight efficiency.

Open Data Portals

Washington, D.C. does not have an open data portal with real-time freight data.

Last Updated: September 2023

Community Energy Infrastructure
Score: 13.5 out of 15 points
Community Energy Infrastructure Summary List All

The Potomac Electric Power Company (PEPCO), an investor-owned utility, is the primary electric utility serving Washington, DC. Washington Gas is Washington’s primary natural gas utility. The DC Council adopted the Clean and Affordable Energy Act which implemented a DC Sustainable Energy Utility (DCSEU) to run energy efficiency programs (electric and natural gas) to meet the city council-required performance benchmarks. Most recently, the 2018 CleanEnergy DC Omnibus Amendment Act, which was signed into law February 2019 and went into effect October 1, 2019, gave authorization to Pepco to put forward an EEDR portfolio. The utility is currently working through the stakeholder process and is hoping to file in the fall for a January 2021 implementation. To learn more about the District’s requirements for electric and gas efficiency, please visit the District of Columbia page of the State Database.

DC Water provides Washington DC with drinking water services and wastewater treatment. The District Department of the Environment manages stormwater for the district.

Last Updated: July 2021

Electricity and Natural Gas Efficiency SavingsList All

In 2019, according to DCSEU, PEPCO and DCSEU achieved 262,714 MWh in net incremental savings, representing 2.38% of retail sales. In 2019, the PEPCO and DCSEU spent $16,541,000 on energy efficiency programs, which represents 2.09% of retail revenue.

In 2019, Washington Gas and DCSEU reported savings of 2.28 MMtherms from natural gas efficiency programs, representing 1.90% of its retail sales. In 2019, the Washington Gas and DCSEU spent $3,895,400 on energy efficiency, which equates to $25.23 per residential customer. The figures represented here cover all of the District of Columbia. DCSEU offers electric and natural gas efficiency incentives and technical assistance to residential and business customers.

The District partners with DCSEU, PEPCO, and Washington Gas to promote participation in the energy efficiency programs. The District’s Department of Energy & Environment (DOEE) conducts outreach on all of its sustainability programs on a regular basis. DOEE also works closely with the DCSEU to refer low-income customers who come in through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program or the Weatherization ion Assistance Program to the DCSEU for additional energy efficiency services. The DCSEU serves under a performance-based contract with DOEE, with input and recommendations from the DCSEU Advisory Board and oversight from the Council of the District of Columbia. DCSEU also partners with Washington Gas to provide targeted heating and hot water improvements for low-income residents.

In addition, DOEE shares benchmarking data with the DCSEU. The DCSEU uses this raw data to highlight trends and identify customer segments with the greatest potential for cost-effective and significant energy savings. The DCSEU can then use the benchmarking data to target its services and incentives to customers with the greatest need. The DCSEU has been able to utilize the benchmarking data to improve the design of its Commercial & Institutional programs.

In 2019, the Solar For All program started being administered by the DCSEU on behalf of the DOEE. Solar For All is the one of the largest income-qualified solar efforts in the country. This three-year program is funded with $32 million of District money.

After August 20, 2021, in line with District policy and the Clean Energy DC Plan, the DCSEU will no longer offer rebates for residential natural gas equipment in the Efficient Products program. This includes rebates for residential gas dryers, furnaces, boilers, and water heaters. To help residents make the transition to efficient electric heat pumps and heat pump water heaters, the DCSEU has increased rebates for the most efficient heat pumps and heat pump water heaters.

Last Updated: August 2021

Low-Income & Multifamily EE Programs List All

Low-Income Programs

The DCSEU has a portfolio of programs to focus on different sectors of low-income customers. This includes the Low-Income Multifamily Implementation Contractor Direct Install, Low-Income Multifamily Comprehensive, Solar PV and Hot Water programs for custom savings approaches. For prescriptive low-income offerings, the DCSEU has income qualified rebates for residential appliances, HVAC, and lighting, as well as retail lighting offerings at food banks in the District.

DCSEU partners with various agencies in Washington, and often works with local government agencies to transform buildings and institutions that offer services for DC residents. In cooperation with the Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Department of General Services (DGS), the DCSEU aims to renovate many of the District-run shelters in the coming years. A majority of low-income work in the District is through Multifamily Buildings, Clinics, or Shelters that serve low-income households.

For the 2017-2021 program cycle the low-income spending requirement for the District of Columbia was adjusted to 20% of expenditures. Though not specific to low-income programs, a 5% adder is applied to program benefits to account for additional non-energy benefits including comfort, noise reduction, aesthetics, health and safety, etc. Non-cost-effective programs may be included in the portfolio as long as overall the portfolio is cost-effective under SCT.

In 2019, according to DCSEU, it achieved 8,566 MWh and 0.04 MMtherms in energy savings, while spending $2,158,764 and $1,306,889 on its electric and natural gas low-income programs, respectively. DCSEU served 4,103 electric and 1,022 natural gas low-income customers in 2018.

Multifamily Programs

DCSEU performs work with multifamily buildings across the district, and also has many programs focused specifically on low-income multifamily housing. The Low-Income Multifamily Comprehensive (LICP) initiative provides custom technical services and incentives for energy-efficiency improvements to low-income multifamily projects, specifically, new construction, substantial renovation, and redevelopment housing. In 2018, program measures included heating and cooling systems, domestic hot water systems, in-unit and common area lighting, appliances, controls, and low flow water fixtures. For low-income programs, measures also focus on HVAC efficiency, cooking and laundry, design assistance, hot water efficiency and replacement, LED lighting, efficient controls, lighting hardwired fixtures, motor controls, refrigeration, space heating efficiency and replacement, and thermal shell and ventilation.

In 2019, according to DCSEU, it achieved 3,704 MWh and 0.01 MMtherms of energy savings, while spending $676,345 and $273,582 on its electric and natural gas multifamily programs, respectively. DCSEU served 2,038 electric multifamily housing units and 24 electric multifamily properties. DCSEU served 653 natural gas multifamily housing units and 8 natural gas multifamily properties.

As part of the settlement agreement with the DC Public Service Commission (DC PSC) to approve its merger with Alta Gas, Washington Gas will allocate $4.2 million to design and implement a multifamily low-income energy efficiency program. Similarly, as part of the settlement agreement with the DC PSC approving its merger with Exelon, PEPCO will allocate $6.75 million to design and implement an energy efficiency program targeted towards both affordable multifamily units and master-metered multifamily buildings.

Last Updated: July 2021

Provision of Energy Data by UtilitiesList All

Both PEPCO and Washington Gas are required to provide automated benchmarking services through ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager.  Pepco offers an online energy management tool, Resource Advisor, which allows users to access aggregate building electricity data on a monthly basis and automatically transfer this data to Portfolio Manager. Resource Advisor is free to use and can be utilized by any building with five or more individually metered electric accounts. Washington Gas offers a similar automated benchmarking service, Utilli, which electronically accesses and pulls aggregate natural gas usage data and automatically sends the data to Portfolio Manager. This service is also free to use and can be utilized by any building with five or more individually metered natural gas accounts.

The District passed the Sustainable  which mandated utilities to provide automated benchmarking services to customers. In addition, the District's Department of Energy and Environment operates an energy benchmarking Help Center to provide building owners and property managers with the tools to access, understand, and report their utility data. Improved benchmarking data allows the DC Sustainable Energy Utility (DCSEU) to identify buildings and customer groups with the greatest savings potential and target ratepayer dollars where they are needed more.

The District of Columbia publishes community-wide energy usage data at the aggregate level for community planning and evaluation purposes through its Greenhouse Gas Inventories. The first greenhouse gas inventory was released in 2006, and the city releases an annual inventory with data available for 2009–2019.

In 2020, the District Government advocated for the electric utility to implement Green Button Connect My Data to streamline the sharing of customer data with third parties.

Last Updated: July 2021

Decarbonization and Climate Change Mitigation Efforts of Cities and Energy UtilitiesList All

Utility Climate Mitigation Goal

In 2018, Exelon, the parent company of Pepco, announced a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from its internal operations by 15% by 2022 from a 2015 baseline. To achieve this goal, Exelon will need to reduce emissions by 4.2% annually from 2018 levels.

City-Led Efforts to Decarbonize the Electric Grid

The District has submitted comments in public utility commission proceedings regarding renewable energy advocacy, such as net metering legislation. The DC Department of Energy and the Environment (DOEE) has participated in the RM-9 Working Group that addresses issues of interconnection timelines, specifically for community solar, net-metering, and other issues. DOEE has been an active participant in the PSC's Formal Case 1050, regarding interconnection, and has recently submitted comments about a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that impacts community solar interconnection. The District has also been directly involved in utility planning efforts around expanding utility-scale renewable generation. DOEE participated in the PSC's Formal Case 1017 in a working group to weigh in on the development of a PPA for a portion of the electric utility's Standard Offer Service procurement. The District has also filed comments in support of the DCPSC's Small Generator Interconnection Rules to add cost transparency and implement the IEEE 1547-2018 Standard that increases hosting capacity.

While DC does not operate a CCA, the District launched Energy Choice DC to educate residents and businesses about aggregation.  Energy Choice DC provides ratepayers with information about electricity purchase options as well as the contact information for electricity brokers approved by the Public Service Commission. Ratepayers then act on their own to connect with a broker or an aggregator, who will seek competitive pricing on electricity, including options for conventional electricity as well as electricity generated from renewable sources. The District also runs District Buying Power, which is open to businesses interested in aggregation through a buying group. As part of the buying group, businesses also get access to an energy dashboard, data to facilitate energy benchmarking, an energy scorecard and options for renewable energy. 

Clean Distributed Energy Resources 

The District’s Solar for All program aims to expand access to solar power to low-income residents. The program partners with organizations to install on-site solar on single-family homes and community solar projects. For residents to be eligible for participation, household income must be less than 80% of the area median income. A 1 MW installation pursued by the Department of General Services to serve low-income households integrates energy storage.  

The community solar farm at Oxon Run is an innovative use of a degraded 15 acre brownfield site. A total of 2.65 megawatts of clean, solar energy capacity was brought online in December 2020. The system delivers free electricity (offsetting $500 annually) to approximately 750 households in the surrounding community. As of February 2021, the facility is the largest community solar system in the District. 

Municipal Renewable Energy Procurement 

Washington, DC has installed onsite renewable systems on municipal facilities. The current total installed capacity is 13 MW. 

City Renewable Energy Incentive and Financing Programs 

Commercial property owners may access property assessed clean energy (C-PACE) financing for energy efficiency improvements and onsite renewable energy generation. 

The DC Green Bank has launched its Commercial Loan for Energy Efficiency and Renewables (CLEER) financing, for energy efficiency in non-profit and for-profit buildings. The DC Green Bank also launched a financial product called Navigator that is a pre-development loan that finances analysis and design of energy improvements for multifamily properties. Eligible costs include energy benchmarking, assessments, and audits as well as design, engineering, bidding work, and more. 

The Solar for All program seeks to provide 100,000 low-income households with solar energy through direct rooftop installation and community solar farms. 

The DC Department of Energy and Environment offers financial assistance for projects seeking net-zero design.  

In addition to these existing programs, the Clean Energy DC Omnibus Act of 2018 carves out 30% of revenues for low-income energy actions. 

Last Updated: September 2023

Efficiency Efforts in Water ServicesList All

Citywide Water Efficiency and Goals

DCSEU offers programs that include incentives for water saving measures like water heaters, thermostatically initiated shower restriction valves, and efficient clothes washers. The District of Columbia offers water efficiency programs separately from the energy utilities. The District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority (DC Water) developed the award-winning High Usage Notification Application (HUNA) as a free service to proactively notify customers of high-water use - including unknown household leaks, sprinklers accidentally left running, or ruptured washing machine hoses.

Sustainable DC 2.0 established a goal to decrease potable water consumption by 20% from a 2012 baseline by the end of 2032. The 2021 Sustainable DC progress report shows a 19.4% reduction in per capita water consumption.  Supporting actions include updating the District’s building codes to increase water-efficiency standards and allow the use of alternative water systems, developing incentives for water-efficiency measure in landscaping and buildings, and piloting water efficiency projects in District Government buildings to lead by example. DC Water is committed to protecting and preserving the national and local water supply through encouraging water-efficient practices, products, and services. By partnering with the EPA’s WaterSense program, DC Water will offer consumers useful water-saving techniques and encourage them to look for WaterSense labeled products, when making product choices. These products use about 20% less water and perform as well as, or better than, conventional models. Supporting actions include updating the District’s building codes to increase water-efficiency standards and allow the use of alternative water systems, developing incentives for water-efficiency measure in landscaping and buildings, and piloting water efficiency projects in District Government buildings to lead by example. Progress toward the Sustainable DC 2.0 goal is included in the annual progress report.

Water Plant Efficiency and Self-Generation

DC Water has pursued several projects to reduce energy used for wastewater treatment. It has systematically retrofitted diffuser equipment at the Blue Plains treatment to significantly reduce energy consumed through the treatment process. It has also been improving tidal gates on an ongoing basis to reduce infiltration and water treatment volume.

DC Water, the regional water utility, operates an anaerobic digester to generate electricity and steam from solid waste. The energy facility at the Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant uses the solids left over at the end of the wastewater treatment process to create electricity and steam. The project reduces the energy needs of the massive plant by about a third. DC Water expects to expand the capacity and efficiency of the system to meet even more of its energy load in the near future. The Bioenergy facility opened in 2015. It uses thermal hydrolysis to maximize anaerobic digestion.  Blue Plains is the first site in North America to utilize this technology. In recognition of this project, the District of Columbia and DC Water were one of four finalists from across the globe in the “clean energy” category in the C40 Cities awards in December 2016. DC Water also operates a wastewater-sourced thermal energy system at its headquarters and plans to begin Phase 1 of a 4.5 MW solar installation at Blue Plains Treatment Plant in 2021.

Last Updated: July 2021

Local Government Score:
5.5 out of 10 points
Local Government Climate and Energy Goals List All

Washington, D.C. formally adopted the city’s Sustainable DC Plan. The Plan includes citywide climate and energy actions, including those for municipal operations.

Climate Mitigation Goal

The Sustainable DC Plan established a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80% below 2006 levels by 2050, with an interim reduction goal of 50% below 2006 levels by 2032. The District’s 2050 goal was updated in 2017 when Mayor Bowser committed the District achieving citywide carbon neutrality by 2050. To meet these goals, Washington must reduce per capita emissions by 2.78% annually. Based on ACEEE’s analysis of past years emissions data, ACEEE projects that the city will meet its near-term GHG emissions reduction goal for municipal operations.  

Energy Reduction Goal

The Sustainable DC Plan included a goal to reduce citywide energy use 50% below 2012 levels by 2032. The District also participates in the Better Buildings Challenge to achieve an interim energy use reduction goal of 20% below 2012 levels by 2022. The plan also calls for the city to undertake and complete a strategic energy plan for reducing energy and water use across the Department of General Services' portfolio and implement a deep energy retrofit program across 9% of the DC Government building stock by 2024, prioritizing those buildings whose core systems and equipment are nearing the end of their useful life. These goals were codified in the Clean Energy DC Omnibus Act. To achieve these goals, the District must reduce energy use per capita by 3.3% annually. 

Renewable Energy Goal

DC City Council has approved a citywide 100% renewable portfolio standard by 2032, including 5.5% from local solar. The share of local solar will increase to 10% by 2041. 

Last updated: May 2021

Procurement and Construction Policies List All

Fleet Policies and Composition

The Climate Commitment Act of 2022 requires only zero-emission vehicle purchases and leases for District Government vehicles starting 1/1/2026. The Department of Public Works' procurement policy is to require all new sedans be all-electric or PHEV. For other vehicle types, the District has standardized the vehicle makes and models for alternative fuels and requires the most fuel efficiency standards for other ICE engines. The Department of Energy & Environment is leading the development of a Transportation Electrification Roadmap, to meet the goals outlined in the Clean Energy DC Omnibus Act. The Fleet Management Administration recently launched a multi-year effort to install 20 dual-port charging stations to support electrification of the fleet. The District’s Clean Energy DC Omnibus Act (section 502) requires all public buses to be zero-emission vehicles by 2045. Furthermore, it requires the District’s Department of Transportation to submit a plan for achieving 100% replacement of public buses, including school buses, with electric buses upon the end of their useful life, by calendar year 2021. Washington’s fleet is composed of 1% efficient vehicles, including hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and battery electric vehicles.

Public Lighting

Washington has not adopted a policy requiring efficient outdoor lighting, such as the International Dark-Sky Association’s Model Lighting Ordinance. The District is launching a Streetlight Upgrade and Modernization Project which proposes to convert the street light network of more than 75,000 assets to light-emitting diode (LED) technology with remote monitoring and control capabilities. In addition to conversion, poles will be brought up to a “state of good repair,” meaning that arms, bases, and poles that are in disrepair (i.e., chipped paint, leaning, or broken) will be repaired to and maintained at fair condition. The proposed improvements would occur primarily within the existing right-of-way. The District of Columbia Office of Public-Private Partnerships (OP3) is providing procurement support as the selected bidder is expected to use private financing to develop the project. To date, approximately 11% of public lighting has been upgraded to LEDs

Inclusive procurement

The District has contracting and procurement policies that require spending benefit local and small businesses. District agencies are required to spend at least 50% of expendable budgets with such businesses, although these do not specifically give preference to minority-owned or women-owned businesses. DC released a 2022 Disparity Study, and has outlined a timeline for and begun to implement next steps.

Last updated: September 2023

Asset Management List All

Building Benchmarking and Retrofitting

DC benchmarks all municipal buildings. The District requires all privately-owned buildings over 50,000 square feet, and District-owned or District instrumentality-owned buildings 10,000 square feet and larger to benchmark their energy & water use annually. For more information on benchmarking requirements for private buildings, please see the Buildings Policies section of the Local Policy Database. 

Comprehensive Retrofit Strategies

Sustainable DC 2.0 calls on District Government to “retrofit and maintain all buildings owned by District Government to reduce energy use by 50% and maximize the installation of renewable energy technology.” Action EB.9 in the Clean Energy DC plan (released August 2018 and beginning implementation in 2019) calls on District government to lead in an aggressive deep energy retrofit program, followed by a net-zero retrofit program. Specifically the plan recommends phasing in an aggressive governmental building retrofit program over time, beginning with a deep energy retrofit process that covers 9% of District Government-owned buildings by square footage between 2021 and 2024, striving for an average of at least 30% reductions in energy and emissions, recognizing that that circumstances will vary by building, and different levels of reductions will be financially feasible and technically viable for different buildings. Following this initial sweep of deep energy retrofits, the plan calls for net-zero retrofits across 12.5% of the District Government building stock between 2026 and 2032. The District’s Clean Energy DC Omnibus Act requires the District’s Department of General Services to complete the strategic energy management plan for reducing both energy & water use across their portfolio of government buildings by 2020, and codifies the 9% and 2.5% targets recommended by the Clean Energy DC Plan. In 2020, the District began its launch of an Energy Savings Agreement (ESA) with an initial list of DC Public School pilot sites, targeting efficiency and water savings.

Last updated: May 2021