The Green Building Act of 2006 phases in green building in D.C. It requires Commercial buildings to be LEED Silver, and Residential buildings to meet Green Communities standards. From October 1, 2007 to September 30, 2008, only D.C.-owned or -funded building projects over 10,000 ft2 of new or substantial construction (commercial and residential) needed to meet the standards. Each year between October 2009 and 2012, more types of construction will be required to meet Green Building Standards. Eventually all commercial development greater than 50,000 ft2 must comply.
The D.C Energy Conservation Code is updated regularly as model codes are revised or if a change is proposed by local code enforcement officials, industry, design professionals, or other interested parties. Proposals are initiated by the District of Columbia Building Code Advisory Committee. Proposals are published and public hearings are held. The District of Columbia Council has final approval of all proposed code changes.
Enforcement (all plan reviews, interpretations, and appeals) is the responsibility of the Building and Land Regulation Administration, which is a part of the District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.
Compliance is determined by plan review and field inspection.
In 1992, the District of Columbia Energy Conservation Code was based on the 1990 edition of the Building Officials and Code Administrators (BOCA) International, National Energy Conservation Code. The District of Columbia Building Code Advisory Committee, along with the District of Columbia Energy Office, approved several amendments to the BOCA International, National Energy Conservation Code, particularly for interior and exterior lighting loads, power factor requirements, and energy-efficient motors. These amendments were included in the District's requirements on November 27, 1992.
On November 19, 1999, the District of Columbia adopted the 1995 edition of the BOCA code as the basis for its energy conservation code. No amendments were made either to the CABO Model Energy Code (for residential) or to ASHRAE 90.1 (for commercial).
In 2004, after a six-year effort to make building codes consistent throughout the U.S., the nation's three regional model code-writing organizations (BOCA, ICBO. and SBCCI) have developed a model code package the International Construction Codes, that includes 11 compatible codes that complement each other. Supplements are issued annually, and new editions are published at three-year intervals. During FY 2003, the D.C. Building Code Advisory Committee reviewed the 2000 ICC family of codes, of which the International Energy Conservation Code is a part, for adoption by the District of Columbia. On January 9, 2004 the 2000 IECC, without amendment, took effect.
On December 5, 2006, the D.C. City Council unanimously passed the D.C. Green Building Act, according to which the Mayor was to submit a comprehensive set of green building standards by January 2008. These standards were not only expected to include the provisions of the 2006 IECC; starting in 2012, they were expected to require all commercial development of 50,000 square feet or more to qualify for LEED certification. Incentives for early adopters of green building practices were envisaged for the period before 2012.
On December 2, 2008, the D.C. City Council adopted new residential and commercial building codes that incorporate many energy efficiency and green building standards. Replacing the previous code based on the 2000 IECC that became effective in January 2004, the 2008 D.C. Construction Codes were developed from ASHRAE 90.1-2007 for commercial buildings (about 7% more energy efficient than the standard in place for neighboring Virginia and Maryland) and the "30% Solution" for residential buildings (30% energy savings above the 2006 IECC, or about 30% more energy efficient than the standard in place for Virginia and Maryland), which was a comprehensive package of amendments offered at the 2009 International Code Council hearings in September.
The new codes also contain several greening amendments recommended by the D.C. Green Building Advisory Council (GBAC), including (among others) cool roofs, on-site stormwater retention, and low-flow residential and commercial plumbing fixtures. The new codes were effective immediately upon publication in the D.C. Register on December 26, 2008, but contain a one-year transition period during which building permit applications may use either the new code or the previous code adopted in 2003 (based on the 2000 IECC).
In addition to D.C.'s building codes, D.C. passed the Clean and Affordable Energy Act of 2008 (B17-492) that establishes energy benchmarking requirements for government and private buildings. Starting in the fall of 2009, government buildings must be benchmarked using the Energy StarTM Portfolio Manager tool. Annual benchmarking for private buildings will be phased in over four years, starting on January 1, 2010.