On December 4, 2020, the DC Register published the proposed Building Energy Performance Standards (BEPS) and updated benchmarking rules. The 2021 Building Energy Performance Standards were then established through an emergency rulemaking on January 1, 2021 and posted in the DC Register. Both the benchmarking rules and BEPS were open for public comment in early 2021.
On April 30, 2021, the 2021 BEPS Establishment Regulations were published as final. On the same date, all public comments received for both the 2021 BEPS Establishment Regulations and the BEPS Compliance Regulations were published on DOEE’s website.
What was released?
The DC Department of Energy & Environment (DOEE) published the proposed rules for BEPS compliance, the final Standards per property type, and updates to the Benchmarking requirements.
The Standards for the First Compliance Cycle of BEPS
The Standards (also referred to as the “BEPS Establishment Regulations”), the median levels of performance with which the BEPS compliance rules will apply per property type, were finalized on April 30, 2021. This includes performance targets based on ENERGY STAR score (for buildings that received a score) and Source EUI (for buildings that did not receive an ENERGY STAR score).
For more information on how the standards were calculated, DOEE released a guide with information on how the property type groups, metrics, and standards were developed.
The table below only shows the property types with the largest building counts in the District. For a full list of property types and their applicable standards, refer to the information in the DC Register. These standards apply to the first compliance cycle and will likely adjust during future compliance cycles.
|2021 Building Energy Performance Standard|
|Property Type||ENERGY STAR Score||Source EUI|
|College/University Campuses||N/A||Custom per Campus|
For buildings that can receive an ENERGY STAR score, a building will not meet the standards if, based on its 2019 energy benchmarking data, its score is less than the ENERGY STAR score standard listed for their property type.
Owners of buildings that do not meet the Standard for their property type and meet specific criteria may request to use their 2018 energy benchmarking data or adjust their standard by submitting a variance request to DOEE by January 1, 2022. Please see the DOEE website to see if you qualify for a variance.
Note that the BEPS Compliance Regulations- the rules related to compliance or enforcement of the program requirements- have not yet been finalized.
The Proposed BEPS Rules
The proposed BEPS Compliance Regulations include:
- Specific instructions to owners and operators of privately-owned buildings on how to comply with the BEPS
- Which buildings are subject to the BEPS rules
- The performance and procedural requirements for buildings that are not in compliance with the BEPS
The rules include details around:
Sized-based timeframes. Buildings of the following sizes would enter into compliance cycles on the following timelines:
|January 1, 2021
|All privately-owned buildings ≥ 50,000 sq. ft.
District-owned buildings ≥ 10,000 sq. ft.
|January 1, 2027||All privately-owned buildings ≥ 25,000 sq. ft.|
|January 1, 2033||All privately-owned buildings ≥ 10,000 sq. ft.|
Note: See updates to the benchmarking rules below, which include when buildings smaller than 50,000 sq. ft. would need to commence benchmarking their performance.
Compliance cycles. Compliance cycles are typically five years long. Each cycle is followed by what is effectively a “gap year” which allows DOEE time to review submitted benchmarking data and reset the standards for the next compliance cycle. COVID-19 pandemic, the rules include a delay of the end of the first compliance cycle by one year, making it six years long and ending on December 31, 2026.
Compliance pathways. The rules include details around the performance and standard target pathways for compliance, but not around the prescriptive and alternative compliance pathways, whose details will be included in a soon-to-be-released guidebook (see information below).
- Performance pathway. Buildings must achieve greater than a 20% decrease in site EUI. To set their baseline with the COVID-19 delay, buildings must use an average site EUI taken from the two years preceding the first compliance cycle (2018 and 2019). To determine compliance, buildings must demonstrate the aforementioned decrease by using the site EUI of the last year of the compliance cycle (2026).
- Standard target pathway. Buildings must meet the reported standard for their property type during the last year of the cycle (2026).
In general, administrative requirements around the performance and standard target pathways are a more straightforward and simplified process over the prescriptive and alternative compliance pathways.
The rules also include requirements for selecting a compliance pathway and milestones to be met during the compliance cycle, including consequences for not making a timely selection, how to change to a different pathway, and deadlines associated with the prescriptive pathways.
Building owners whose buildings fall below the BEPS for the first compliance cycle will be required to select a compliance pathway no later than February 1, 2023.
Exemptions and delays. Also included is the process for building owners to apply for an exemption from or delay (up to three years) in meeting the required compliance criteria. This includes special references to affordable housing buildings, whose delay can be greater than three years. Any approved delay does not extend deadlines or negate the requirements associated with the next compliance cycle.
Compliance penalties. Failure to demonstrate compliance by the end of a compliance cycle would result in the following maximum penalties (referred to in the rules as “alternative compliance penalties”). The maximum penalties are based on building size and would be reduced proportionally to the building’s demonstrated performance relative to its pathway target.
|Building Size||Maximum Penalty|
|≥ 500,000 sq. ft.||$7,500,000|
|200,000 sq. ft. < 500,000 sq. ft.||$5,000,000|
|100,000 sq. ft. < 200,000 sq. ft.||$2,000,000|
|50,000 sq. ft. < 100,000 sq. ft.||$1,000,000|
|25,000 sq. ft. < 50,000 sq. ft.||$500,000|
|10,000 sq. ft. < 25,00 sq. ft.||$250,000|
Note: Different maximum penalties are listed for campuses (post-secondary education and hospitals) where multiple buildings, owned by a single entity, are co-located.
The maximum penalties would be adjusted according to the selected compliance pathway as follows:
|Compliance Pathway||Adjustment Factor||Example|
|Performance||Percent reduction actually achieved divided by 20%.||Building A achieves a 10% reduction in site EUI. Its fine is reduced by 50%. (10/20 = 50%).|
|Standard target pathway||ENERGY STAR score points actually earned from 2019 divided by total points needed to meet standard.
|Building B gains 4 points but needs 6 total to meet the standard. Its fine is reduced by 67%.
(4/6 = 67%).
|Prescriptive pathway||Number of prescriptive pathway points actually earned divided by total needed.
|Building C completes measures worth 15 points but needs 20 total. Its fine is reduced by 75%.
(15/20 = 75%).
|Alternative compliance pathway||Reductions will be outlined in the alternative compliance pathway agreement (prepared by DOEE and signed by owner)||N/A|
Submitting documentation. The rules include a reference to an “Online BEPS Portal,” a web-based application created by DOEE for a building owner to submit required reporting and verification documents pertaining to BEPS. This portal is not available at present time.
DOEE also released an accompanying report generated by the BEPS Task Force, a group of diverse stakeholder representatives from the local building industry who provided input throughout the rulemaking process. The report aims to help the public better understand why the rules are the way they are, as well as explain the decisions that went into the task force’s recommendations.
Updates to the benchmarking rules
The updates to the benchmarking rules include information relevant to the BEPS rules, such as how the building size thresholds lower over time and information about the data verification requirement.
Size thresholds. Buildings of the following sizes would be required to commence benchmarking their performance as follows:
|Start Date||Building Size||Due|
|All privately-owned buildings ≥ 50,000 sq. ft.
District-owned buildings ≥ 10,000 sq. ft.
|April 1 each year|
|January 1, 2021||All privately-owned buildings ≥ 25,000 sq. ft.||April 1, 2022|
|January 1, 2024||All privately-owned buildings ≥ 10,000 sq. ft.||April 1, 2025|
Third-party data verification requirements. Building owners are required to obtain third-party data verification of benchmarking data from an approved verifier beginning in 2024 for data submitted for calendar year 2023. Verification is required every three years thereafter and would be submitted as part of the District Benchmark Results and Compliance Report.
An approved verifier must possess one of the following licenses, credentials, or certifications:
- Professional Engineer (PE)
- Licensed Architect
- Certified Energy Manager (CEM)
- Building Energy Assessment Professional
- Any other additional data verifier license or training program credentials recognized by DOEE and posted to its website
- A building owner may also use a current ENERGY STAR certification, which includes third-party data verification, to meet the third-party verification requirements.
An approved verifier may not be an employee of the building owner or of the building owner’s designee who prepares or submits benchmarking information.
The verifier is not required to conduct a site visit to meet this requirement.
Other updates. Additionally, the proposed rules include:
- The use of aggregated, whole-building utility data.
- Clarifying that sellers must provide buyers with the information needed to benchmark during the year a transfer occurs.
- Clarifying that properties are no longer exempt from reporting due to a sale.
- Addressing changes in Portfolio Manager and their applicability to DC.
- A requirement that the District Benchmark Results and Compliance Report must include:
- Complete and accurate values, meaning that no default, estimated, or temporary values can be used unless a reasonable explanation is provided.
- A DC Real Property Unique Identifier.
- The name and contact information for the building owner/operator.
- Confirmation that a building owner has run all automated data quality checker functions within Property Manager prior to submission.
- The amendments also clarify that a building owner is not required to request any data from individual residential residents.
- Certain space exemptions.
- Clarification to violations and the enforcement process.
What was not released?
DOEE will soon release a building energy performance standards guidebook, which will include commentary, additional details into the specific requirements of each compliance pathway, including the prescriptive pathway and alternative compliance pathways; how to request exemptions and delays of compliance; and compliance reporting procedures.
Want to learn more?
All proposed and final documents are posted to the DOEE BEPS Program Rulemaking and Public Comments page.
DOEE presented a public briefing on the proposed BEPS rules, as well as monthly updates on the framework, rules process, and timeline. Recordings of these events can be found here.
The BEPS Task Force meets regularly to advise DOEE on how to implement the BEPS program. Task Force meetings are open to the public. Past meeting recordings and future meeting agendas and call-in information can be found on the Task Force page.
The Hub will provide additional news and a more comprehensive digest of the rules and compliance pathways when the additional documentation is released.