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DC Building Code Updates for Owners

Read the owner's guide to DC energy codes.

This resource is available courtesy of DCSEU.

While building projects are legally required to meet certain applicable provisions of the energy code, within the code itself there are key decisions that can affect project goals, financing, and ultimately the success of a project. Additionally, several of the code updates include post-occupancy requirements where the building owner is responsible for providing documentation in order to verify compliance. The table below highlights the key code changes/updates and seeks to provide insights on how they might affect decisions and what the owner might be responsible for in terms of verifying compliance. All code sections below reference the 2017 DC Energy Conservation Code, unless otherwise noted.

Code subsection Summary Key items for owner to track
 2017 DC Building Code 101.10.6 Alternative Compliance Paths for Commercial Building Projects Text includes alternative compliance paths and requirements for Appendix Z; ILFI for full LBC, Energy Petal and Zero Energy certification; PHIUS and Onsite Solar; PHI and Onsite Solar; and LEED Zero Carbon and Zero Energy certification. Sets project energy goals and provides commitment. All energy goals and code compliance requirements should be captured in the owner’s project requirements (OPR).
5.4.4 On-Site Renewable Energy Systems New solar-ready requirements for at least 25% of horizontal projection of roof area. Provides input on whether additional solar capacity should be accommodated (beyond 25%) and how the solar requirements of Section 13 impacts this requirement. Heat Pump Requirement Adds a requirement for the use of a heat pump as primary heating source for spaces that are both heated and cooled using unitary systems. Should be aware of HVAC system type selection as it has implications for energy performance, carbon impact, ENERGY STAR score, and operations and maintenance.
11.3.1 Construction Includes acceptance testing and commissioning requirements including requirements for Envelope Commissioning/Testing ( Requirements state that owner must contract with a project commissioning authority and thus has implications for project scope and key roles and responsibilities. Commissioning oversight and input starts early in design and must follow ASHRAE standards. Also requires OPR to be updated during the design phase as necessary.
13.1 Prescriptive Renewable Path Adds new code section that requires either the Standard Renewable Approach ( or the Alternate Renewables Approach ( for projects 10,000 sq. ft. or larger. Requires a decision that impacts the amount of on-site renewable energy that must be installed on the project and potentially affects equipment and appliance selection. For projects that are unable to install solar due to physical limitations, requires owner to purchase renewable energy products or follow the Alternate Renewables Approach, which requires less on-site solar. Owners should weigh options in overall efficiency with costs of both options to help determine path and long-term compliance.
Appendix Z Adds new alternative compliance path for projects interested in pursuing higher levels of performance. In considering this compliance path, owners must be aware of all the performance requirements and include them in their OPR. Also must provide the commitment needed to achieve this level of performance.
Z3 Renewable Energy Specifies amount and acceptable sources of renewable energy and includes a ban of on-site combustion, with several exceptions. Requires renewable energy systems that provide energy equal to the modeled EUI of the project with sourcing requirements. Gas ban also has implications for equipment and appliance selection decisions.
Z4 Energy Metering, Monitoring and Reporting Requires metering of all forms of energy delivered to the site, flow rates for all centrally ventilated building systems, and consideration of on-site energy storage options. Project scope and contracts must capture metering requirements. Roles and responsibilities regarding data review and disclosure may impact key decisions.
Z5 Energy Reporting Requirements for post-occupancy measurement and reporting. Requires owner to submit energy data that project has met energy performance requirements within 24 months of occupancy.


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