An estimated 50% of commercial property owners in D.C. must soon invest in energy saving measures, thanks to the recently passed Clean Energy D.C. Act. Is your property prepared for a new law? In December, the D.C. Council passed a new climate law, which aims to reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions by 50% before 2032 and move the city to 100% renewable energy. The bill, called the “strongest climate law ever passed” in the U.S., will affect many across the city. Property owners are particularly concerned.
According to estimates, D.C. buildings account for nearly 75% of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions. The new climate law, therefore, will target existing buildings to reduce overall emissions. This will require many property owners to enhance and improve their property’s energy performance to meet specific ENERGY STAR baselines, outlined by the law.
As nearly half of D.C.’s privately-owned buildings may be affected, we wanted to highlight some of the new requirements for property owners. Plus, we’ve also highlighted a few energy savings strategies – like new custom commercial windows – that can help building owners comply with the new climate law.
What Are the New Climate Law Requirements for Property Owners?
One way the climate law aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions is through building energy savings.
In particular, the law requires the council to create benchmarks – which will be called the Building Energy Performance Standard (BEPS) program – by 2021. This framework will be based on ENERGY STAR ratings for various building types of similar sizes.
Commercial property owners must then meet BEPS energy efficiency minimums, or increase performance, by 2026, and remain in compliance every five years. Initially, the law will affect privately-owned properties over 50,000 square feet, with smaller buildings being phased in the ensuing years.
Beginning in 2020, the city will begin ENERGY STAR assessments on all privately-owned buildings over 50,000 feet. In 2023, this will expand to buildings over 25,000 square feet, and finally, to all privately-owned buildings over 10,000 square feet by 2026.
Ultimately, buildings that are found to be below the BEPS minimums will have five years to improve energy performance. To comply, buildings must:
- • Reduce energy use intensity (EUI) by 20%, compared to the previous five years
- • Or implement energy savings measures that result in a 20% EUI decrease, compared to the last 5 years
Examples of energy savings strategies include installing new energy efficient windows, updating old HVAC systems, enhancing the building’s insulation or updating the buildings’ exterior.
How Custom Commercial Windows Can Help Property Owners Meet Clean Energy Act Requirements
Custom commercial windows are one energy-saving measure that can have a significant impact on EUI. Considering windows account for about one-third of heat loss for commercial properties, updating aging, or inefficient windows can help buildings reduce EUI immediately.
In particular, custom commercial windows help reduce energy consumption in two ways. New windows reduce heating loads in colder months, and conversely, they reduce cooling loads in summer months.
During cold weather months, windows play an essential role in whole-building heating. Inefficient windows account for a majority of heat loss, and like this, the buildings’ HVAC systems must work harder to compensate for this loss. In summer, inefficient windows have the opposite effect; they let more solar heat in, a phenomenon is known as “solar heat gain.” As a result, the AC system must work harder to compensate.
New custom commercial windows solve this problem in a variety of ways. The majority of replacement windows, for example, are manufactured with gas fills between two or more panes of glass, specialized Low-E coatings and improved seals. All of these features help to insulate buildings better and limit heat gain and heat loss. In fact, according to estimates, adequately designed and installed windows can reduce energy costs by as much as 40%.
Start Planning to Green Your Property
Is your property prepared to meet the Clean Energy Act benchmarks? It’s recommended that property owners begin planning energy savings investments now. An initial energy consumption assessment is a significant first step in understanding your property’s footprint and potential strategies you may need to undertake to reduce EUI.
Are you interested in custom commercial windows? Aeroseal Windows & Storefront can help. Our team can help you estimate the energy savings impact new windows will have on your property.
Now celebrating our 20th year, Aeroseal helps Washington, D.C. and the East Coast install and update their commercial windows for maximum energy savings.