State and Local Policy Database


City Scorecard Rank


Washington, DC

71.00Scored out of 100Updated 5/2017
Local Government Score:
9 out of 10 points
Local Government Summary List All

The Sustainable DC initiative is Washington, D.C.’s overarching sustainability framework and includes a municipal operations’ greenhouse gas reduction and energy savings goals. Overall, the initiative describes strategies for various policy areas including energy, climate and environment, transportation, and the built environment. Some of these strategies include energy efficiency requirements for new buildings and equipment and a comprehensive retrofit plan. The DC Office of Planning (OP) and the District Department of the Environment (DDOE) lead the Sustainable DC Project.

Last updated: February 2017

Local Government Energy Efficiency Goals List All

The District's energy usage and greenhouse gas emission goals were proposed in the city's Sustainable DC Plan and adopted by the Mayor's Order 2013-209. DC has a goal to reduce GHG emissions 50% by 2032 and 80% by 2050, from a 2006 baseline. DC also has a goal to cut energy use 50% by 2032, from a 2012 baseline. Both include municipal buildings. DC's GHG and energy goals are citywide, but they include municipal buildings. The district also has a goal to reduce energy use in local government buildings in the Downtown DC Business Improvement District by 30% by 2020. The city also has a goal under DOE’s Better Buildings Challenge that includes municipal buildings.


To meet their greenhouse gas goal, DC will have to reduce emissions by 1.8% annually.


DC is on track to meet their local government emissions goal. 


The District reports overall GHG emissions in its inventory. In addition, building-by-building greenhouse gas emissions and energy use for District Government facilities are disclosed on This database displayes the annual EUI and GHG emissions as wel as monthly energy use and energy costs for 354 buildings. The District also publishes 15-minute-interval data for electricity use in its facilities and makes data for the previous three years available for download.

Last updated: April 2017

Procurement and Construction List All

Vehicle Fleets and Infrastructure

The district requires newly purchased or leased fleet vehicles to be 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 limits the purchase of SUVs unless they are to be used for security, emergency, rescue, snow removal, or armored vehicles. The district’s anti-idling regulation (20 DCMR 900) applies to government-owned vehicles and limits idling to 3 minutes or less. The DC Fleet Share program is comprised of 85 government-owned vehicles and has resulted in reducing 360 passenger vehicles from the fleet, or 17% of the fleet’s passenger vehicles. The Department of Public Work’s (DPW) multiyear capital improvement plan establishes yearly goals for vehicle replacement set to attain maximum fuel efficiency and meet or exceed emissions standards, including goals to increase electric and hybrid vehicles.

Note: For local fleet initiatives, policies listed must make a specific, mandatory requirement for increasing fleet efficiency. Local alternative-fuel vehicle procurement requirements that give a voluntary option to count efficient vehicles are thus not included.

Public Lighting

We could not confirm if Washington has adopted a policy requiring efficient outdoor lighting, such as the International Dark-Sky Association’s Model Lighting Ordinance. The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) is in the process of replacing all existing roadway and alley light fixtures with LED streetlight fixtures.

New Buildings and Equipment

The Green Building Act of 2006 requires that new city building designs earn an ENERGY STAR target finder score of at least 75 and that all city buildings 10,000 square feet and larger be ENERGY STAR– benchmarked annually. This policy applies to publicly funded buildings. All new and significantly renovated city-owned commercial buildings must be at least LEED Silver certified and schools be at least LEED Gold certified. City-owned or -financed residential new construction and major renovation projects must either be certified to Enterprise Green Communities or LEED. Other public projects that have more minor renovations are required to comply with the new Energy Conservation and Green Construction Codes. DC's Procurement Practices Act was amended by the ENERGY STAR Efficiency Amendment Act of 2004 (Law 15-281), which directs agencies to include a specification that energy using products be ENERGY STAR– labeled provided those products are widely available.

Last updated: April 2017

Asset Management List All

Building Benchmarking and Retrofitting

80% of the 36.5 million square feet of district government property is regularly tracked in and/or ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. Washington, D.C.’s Clean Affordable Energy Act of 2008 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, which have been benchmarked since 2010, are available on an online database called Build Smart DC. Results from privately-owned buildings are available on the District of Columbia Open Data Portal. The district is also currently exploring energy service performance contracts and is a DOE Better Buildings Challenge Community Partner, with 90 million square feet committed, including municipal buildings. Under the Sustainable DC Plan, the Department of General Services (DGS) is developing a strategic plan to reduce energy use in District facilities by 50% by 2032. DGS has begun retrofitting and optimizing the operations its most inefficient building, cutting energy use and saving millions of dollars.

Public Employees

The district has policies allowing local government employees to use alternative work schedules (D.C. Official Code §§ 1-612.01). 

Last updated: January 2017 

Community-Wide Initiatives
Score: 11 out of 12 points
Community-Wide Summary List All

The DC Office of Planning (OP) and the District Department of Energy and Environment (DDOEE) coordinate the district’s community-wide energy-related efforts through the Sustainable DC Project framework. They provide resources to assist residents and business in reducing energy usage and manage the Sustainable DC Ambassadors volunteer program to expand outreach into the community. 

Last updated: April 2017

Community-Wide Energy Efficiency GoalsList All

Several energy-related goals are included in the district's sustainability plan, Sustainable DC. These goals include reducing citywide energy use by 50% and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2032. Mayor’s Order 2013-209 formally adopted these goals.

The city releases annual public reports that provide updates on the progress made towards achieving the city’s goals. The city is currently on track to achieve its greenhouse gas emissions goal.

Last updated: April 2017

Efficient Distributed Energy Systems - District Energy and Combined Heat and PowerList All

The Clean Energy DC Plan identified several high priority sites for district energy and microgrid systems that incorporate CHP. The city is also providing technical assistance to those wanting to integrate district energy into future developments.

Last updated: April 2017

Mitigation of Urban Heat Islands List All

The Sustainable DC Plan includes an urban heat island mitigation goal to increase the urban tree canopy to 40% of land area. The city also has a goal to increase wetland acreage by the Anacostia and Potomac rivers by 50%.

Washington, DC requires real estate development projects to use low impact development techniques in site design to achieve a required green area ratio. The city has also adopted a private tree protection ordinance. The city does not have policies that require or incentivize conservation of private land.

Last updated: April 2017

Buildings Policies
Score: 20 out of 28 points
Buildings Summary List All

Washington has several building sector initiatives to improve efficiency including green building requirements and required energy rating and disclosure. The Division of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs manages the building energy code compliance and enforcement for the City of Washington.

Last Updated: January 2017

Stringency of Energy CodesList All

Washington D.C.’s energy codes are mandatory across the District. Residential and commercial construction must comply with the 2013 D.C. Construction Code. The D.C. Construction Code includes the Energy Conservation Code which is more stringent than the 2012 IECC and ASHRAE 90.1-2010. The Construction Code also includes the Green Construction Code which is based on the 2012 International Green Construction Code. To learn more about the District of Columbia’s required energy codes, please visit the State Policy Database.


Washington D.C. complies with 2013 D.C. Construction Code. 


Washington D.C. complies with 2013 D.C. Construction Code

Last Updated: January 2017

Building Energy Code Enforcement and ComplianceList All

Washington does not have internal staff dedicated solely to energy code compliance. Washington requires code officials to complete energy code training. Washington has established participation in third-party plan review and performance testing as a voluntary building energy code compliance option. Washington provides upfront support for energy code compliance by regularly conducting energy code training and pre-permit consultation with plan examiners. 

Last Updated: January 2017

Requirements and Incentives for Efficient Buildings List All

Green Building Requirements

Washington’s above-code building requirements apply to new construction and major renovation of privately-owned, non-residential buildings. 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. A commercial building over 50,000 square feet must achieve LEED at the Certified level. If a residential buildings has received at least 15% of its funding from public sources (broadly defined to include ground leases, TIF districts, etc.) in a project greater than 10,000 square feet, they must achieve Green Communities Certification or LEED.

Energy Audit and Retrofit Requirements

Washington does not yet require commercial or residential buildings to take energy efficiency actions such as energy audits or retro-commissioning. 

Incentives and Financing for Efficient Buildings

Washington provides PACE financing for large commercial construction. Rebates are available for residential and commercial efficiency projects, as well as a free residential energy audit program and weatherization assistance program.

Last Updated: January 2017

Benchmarking, Rating, & Transparency List All


The Clean and Affordable Energy Act requires commercial 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 data will be published on a website managed by the District. Non-compliance results in a fine. A website has been set up as well as a help center for training for compliance.


The Clean and Affordable Energy Act requires large multifamily buildings greater than 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 data will be published on a website managed by the District. Non-compliance results in a fine. A website has been set up as well as a help center for training for compliance.

The local Multiple Listing Service (MLS) incorporates fields for energy efficiency features into real estate listings.

Last Updated: January 2017

Energy & Water Utilities
Score: 12 out of 20 points
Energy & Water Utilities 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. 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: January 2017

Electric & Gas Energy Efficiency Programs, Spending & SavingsList All

In 2015, according to PEPCO and DCSEU, together they achieved 57,208 MWh in net incremental savings, representing 0.51% of retail sales. To achieve these savings, PEPCO and DCSEU spent $13,300,507 on electric efficiency programs in 2015, which equates to 1.83% of annual revenue. In 2015, Washington Gas and DCSEU reported savings of 0.07 MMtherms from natural gas efficiency programs, representing 0.88% of its retail sales. To achieve these savings, Washington Gas and DCSEU spent $5,395,764 on natural gas efficiency programs, which are normalized to $36.48 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.

Green Energy DC is the District of Columbia's resource for information on energy efficiency and renewable energy programs, products and services in the District. Green Energy DC is a service of the DDOE. Authorized under the Clean and Affordable Energy Act of 2008 (CAEA), DDOE contracts with a private entity to conduct sustainable energy programs on behalf of the District government. The CAEA also established a DC Sustainable Energy Utility (DCSEU) to be the one-stop resource for energy efficiency and renewable energy services for District residents and businesses.  The DCSEU serves under a performance-based contract with DDOE, with input and recommendations from the DCSEU Advisory Board, and oversight from the Council of the District of Columbia.

The District partners with DCSEU, PEPCO, and Washington Gas to promote participation in the energy efficiency programs. The District’s Department of the Environment (DDOE) conducts outreach on all of its sustainability programs on a regular basis. DDOE also works closely with the DC SEU to refer low-income customers who come in through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program or the Weatherization ion Assistance Program to the DC SEU for additional energy efficiency services.

In addition, DDOE 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.

Last Updated: January 2017

Low-Income & Multifamily EE Programs List All

Low-Income Programs

The District of Columbia Sustainable Energy Utility (DCSEU) offers the Income Qualified Energy Efficiency Program to qualified residential customers served by both Pepco and Washington Gas utilities. This direct installation program provides up to $5,000 of no-cost energy efficiency measures to help reduce energy consumption in low-income households and includes measures such as efficient lighting, water saving measures, hot water tank wrap and pipe insulation, refrigerator replacement, air sealing, insulation, and ventilation fans. DCSEU coordinates with the federal Weatherization Assistance Program by serving different homes. It also automatically qualifies customers who receive other services for low-income households in DC, such as Lifeline Assistance, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, and Pepco’s residential aid program.

In 2015, according to DCSEU, it achieved 4,716 MWh and 0.23 MMtherms in energy savings from its low-income programs, while spending $4,849,467 on its electric and $923,708 on its natural gas low-income efficiency portfolio. The number of households served was not available.

Multifamily Programs

DCSEU offers the Low-Income Multifamily Program. This comprehensive program provides custom technical and financial assistance for energy efficiency improvements to multifamily properties. The program also provides direct install of CFLs, low-flow faucet aerators and showerheads, hot water tank wrap, and pipe wrap.

Last Updated: June 2017

Provision of Energy Data by UtilitiesList All

In order for customers to access their own energy data, PEPCO makes use of the Green Button data sharing platform. Residential customers can download a spreadsheet or XML file of their 15-minute-interval electricity data (“Green Button Download my Data”), and commercial customers can access a next-day Application Programming Interface (API) feed of their 15-minute interval consumption data (“Green Button Connect My Data.”), becoming the first utility in the country to implement this feature. The utilities do provide the region with detailed electricity and natural gas consumption data by zip code.

The District government has advocated strongly for improvements in data provision by utilities to building owners and to the city. DDOE worked closely with Pepco to get Pepco to offer aggregated whole building data beginning in 2013. DCSEU operated a Benchmarking Help Center in 2013 and 2014 that helped 70% of buildings with their reporting and improved their efficiency. DOEE now directly manages the help center, with support from DCSEU. The District and Pepco also partner on the Department of Energy's Better Buildings Initiative, Energy Data Accelerator, to facilitate better access to energy usage data.

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 also provide automated benchmarking services to upload that data to ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager®. The District was the first jurisdiction in the nation to put such a requirement into law.

Pepco now provides automated upload of whole building electricity data to Portfolio Manager, using a service called “Resource Advisor” which went online in Fall 2014. Once set up, up to two years of historical data can be uploaded, and electricity data is updated on monthly basis thereafter.  Data is aggregated to the whole building level for five or more accounts, in order to protect privacy while easing the processes of benchmarking multi-tenant buildings. There is no fee for the service.

Washington Gas also offers aggregated whole building data for buildings with five or more gas accounts to building owners as required by the law. Automated upload to Portfolio Manager of Natural Gas data is not yet available, but must be provided by the end of 2017.

Last Updated: January 2017

Efficiency Efforts in Water ServicesList All

Water Efficiency

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. The HUNA has generated more than 18,000 notifications to customers since January 2006. 

Washington has the goal to decrease total water use by 40% by the end of 2032. 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.

Energy Efficiency and Self-Generation

DC Water has pursued several projects to reduce energy used for wastewater treatment. They have systematically retrofitted diffuser equipment at the Blue Plains treatment to significantly reduce energy consumed through the treatment process. They have 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 their 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. 

Green Stormwater Infrastructure

Finalized in 2012, the Sustainable DC Plan discusses ways to encourage the use of green infrastructure to manage stormwater. The Plan discusses using green infrastructure such as permeable pavement, bioswales, dense tree plantings, and other low impact development to capture pollutants before they reach the rivers. The second goal in the plan is to use 75% of the landscape to capture rainwater for filtration or reuse by 2032. The District also provides subsidies to properties that install green infrastructure through the “RiverSmart Program”, including green roofs, rain gardens, trees, and impermeable surfaces.

In 2013, the District issued the 2013 Rule on Stormwater Management and Soil Erosion and Sediment Control that establishes stormwater retention and performance standards for new development. The rule also created the Stormwater Retention Credit (SRC) Trading Program, the first of its kind in the nation. Properties throughout the District can generate Stormwater Retention Credits (SRCs) for voluntary green infrastructure projects that reduce stormwater runoff. Owners can then trade their SRCs in an open market to others who use them to meet the regulatory requirements for retaining stormwater.

Last Updated: January 2017

Score: 19 out of 30 points
Transportation Summary List All

The transportation authority serving the city of Washington is The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. WMATA also provides the public transportation for the city and the broader metropolitan area, including public bike, subway and bus service. The National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board is the MPO in charge of conducting metropolitan transportation planning. Its area of jurisdiction encompasses Washington, and many surrounding Virginia and Maryland jurisdictions. The District Department of Transportation is the city agency charged with managing the city’s transportation network.

Last updated: January 2017

Location Efficiency List All

Washington’s zoning code encourages mixed-use, transit-oriented, and infill development. The zones are in the process of updating to reduce minimum parking requirements. Currently, the city allows one parking space per residential unit. We could not confirm if there were incentives available to promote location efficiency.

Last updated: January 2017

Mode Shift List All

Modal Share Targets

Washington has a goal to achieve 75% of all commute trips by non-auto modes.

Car and Bicycle Sharing

There are three car sharing programs currently available to the residents and visitors of Washington, ZipcarCar2go, and enterprise CarShare. The city is served by a bike-sharing program, capital bikeshare, with over 400 operable stations.

Complete Streets

Washington adopted its complete streets policy in 2010, through Departmental Order 06-2010. The adoption of the policy encourages accommodating the safety and convenience for all users reflecting land-use, transportation, and green streets principles wherever possible.

Last updated: January 2017

Transit List All

The WMATA transit system that serves Washington received $2,162,892,767 in average annual funding from 2011-2015. This funding level is $368.58 per resident in the service territory of the agency, putting the city in the second highest category ($250-399) available in the City Scorecard

The Transit Connectivity Index measures transit service levels. It is based on the number of bus routes and train stations within walking distance for households scaled by frequency of service. Washington DC’s Transit Connectivity Index value is 36, putting it in the second highest category (30-39) available in the City Scorecard.

Last updated: January 2017

Efficient VehiclesList All

Citizens of Washington are eligible for reduced registration fees, tax exemptions, and time-of-day and day-of-week driving restrictions with the purchase of alternative-fuel or fuel-efficient vehicles. There are no incentives available for the construction of EV charging infrastructure. The city has 98 EV charging stations available for public use.

Washington is an active participant in the Greater Washington Region Clean Cities Coalition.Last updated: January 2017

Freight List All

Sustainable freight plan

We could not confirm if Washington D.C. has a sustainable freight transportation plan or any policies in place that address freight efficiency.

Smart freight

We could not confirm if Washington D.C. employs an internet-based application or service to coordinate freight transport.

Last updated: January 2017

Sustainable Transportation Planning List All

Washington DC’s Multimodal Long-Range Transportation Plan, moveDC is focused on improving transportation conditions in the District for all its residents, workers, visitors by making strategic investments in its significant networks—transit, bicycle, pedestrian, and vehicles—while also supporting significant District goals related to neighborhood vitality, environmental stewardship, and global competitiveness.

Last updated: January 2017

Low-Income in Transit-Oriented Development Areas List All

We could not confirm if Washington D.C. had requirements or incentives in place to develop or preserve affordable housing in transit-served areas.

Last updated: January 2017