Owner’s Playbook

Give your buildings a competitive advantage.

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Best Practices

Building owners are the primary decision makers of all major building-related projects and as such, set the stage for all to follow. As an owner, your approval, leadership, and ultimate allocation of resources (be it financial or human capital), is critical to creating and maintaining energy-efficient, high-value buildings in the District and helping transform what constitutes business as usual. The future of buildings is about energy efficiency, automation, electrification, and responsiveness to both customer and investor demand for sustainability. To remain competitive, building owners need to showcase leadership for and cultivate commitment to high-performance buildings. While upfront cost is a commonly cited barrier to better buildings, the long-term costs of inaction, for both the owner and society, are greater.

Take action on your building’s performance

  • Understand the latest regulations. Ensure that you are up to speed on the latest rules and regulations about the District’s Building Energy Performance Standards (BEPS) and updated building codes, and how they might impact your properties.
  • Check your building’s performance. The District discloses benchmarking data for its own properties ≥10,000 sq. ft. and for all private buildings ≥50,000 sq. ft. that are required to comply with its benchmarking regulations. That information is made publicly available and is published on the District’s data visualization platform. It’s important to verify that your benchmarking data is accurate, because your building’s performance data will determine whether or not you are compliant with BEPS.
  • See how your building is performing against your peers. There are two options to compare your building’s performance against your peers.
    • Compare your building’s ENERGY STAR score to the District’s medians from 2018. While the 2018 medians will not be the exact standards that the District’s Department of Energy & Environment (DOEE) will set for the first compliance cycle of BEPS, the 2018 medians are likely to be very close to the final standards for this first period.
    • Request your building’s “scorecard” from DOEE, which ranks your building’s energy performance against similar property types. To receive a digital copy of your scorecard, complete this form and email it to this address.
  • Talk to your on-site staff. Having a dialog with your building engineer, property manager, and/or facility manager will enable you to get a full picture about how your building is performing, how the systems are being maintained, and what potential options for improvement are.
  • Get an energy audit. Hire an expert to conduct an energy audit to identify all possible areas for performance improvement. Depending on how in depth your audit is, this can also include information about cost and ROI to aid in decision making.
  • Develop a goal or target for your building. Once you understand how your building is performing, it’s important to determine your goals for your building’s performance. This will set up the pathway for all future, related work. It’s important to ensure that all internal stakeholders and decision makers agree to the goals being set and that they are committed to executing a plan to achieve them.
  • Communicate projects goals across your team. It takes a team to properly operate and manage a building. It’s important that all stakeholders—asset managers, property managers, building engineers, and brokers among them—understand the goals you have set and your expectations of them.
  • Talk to your tenants. It’s imperative to talk to your tenants about their role and responsibility in ensuring your building’s performance. This endeavor is challenging with commercial tenants (as they can consume up to 80% of a building’s energy use), and it can be even more challenging for residential buildings with either owned or rented units. Regardless, communication among building users is crucial for helping to maintain or improve building performance.
  • Develop a plan for tenant turnover. When new residential or commercial tenants come to your building, or as leases get renewed, review policies and best practices with them.
    • For residential units, this could include upgrading lighting or appliances to more efficient models and technology.
    • For commercial tenants, this could include lease language that contains green lease provisions. It could also be a chance to update your owners project manual to include updated requirements for new tenants during build out.
  • Select the right vendor. Use our procurement guide to determine the vendor—both the type and the qualifications—that will enable you to meet your performance goals. If you have previously set environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals for your company, this is also the time to use your economic hiring power to not only achieve your environmental goals, but your social ones as well.
  • Get the financing that you need. There are a multitude of options available for building owners to finance improvements to their building’s performance. You can search for available options, based on your scope of work, in our Funding and Financing Map.
  • Verify and maintain building performance. Verifying building performance is not a one-time endeavor and requires on-going dedication. Consult the Operations and Maintenance Best Practices Guide for details. This also means ensuring that your on-site staff has the training and resources they need to keep the building running at its best.
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