Clean Buildings for Washington

State Energy Performance Standards

The Clean Buildings for Washington law (HB 1257), being implemented by the Washington State Department of Commerce, applies to all 'Tier 1' commercial buildings larger than 50,000 SF. In 2022, the State expanded the requirements to cover smaller commerical buildings (20,000 - 50,000 SF) and 'Tier 2' multifamily buildings 20,000 SF and larger.

The law includes several requirements to improve energy efficiency including meeting a minimum average energy use intensity target (EUIt) for the space uses in building.1 All building owners and managers should start planning now to comply, and can use the law as a catalyst to join the emerging commercial real estate industry shift to all-electric assets. Although the State energy performance standards are an important start, OSE projects they will only result in about a 4% reduction by 2030 in meeting the City's 2050 carbon-neutral goal, whereas Seattle-specific GHG emissions standards for larger buildings could result in up to a 27% decrease.

For Tier 1 large commercial buildings, OSE estimates that nearly 1,000 Seattle buildings will need to comply and at least 1/3 will need energy efficiency improvements to meet the State EUIt.

What Does the State Law Require?

Owners of Tier 1 commercial buildings 50,000 SF and greater need to comply with steps 1-4 (below) and show that their building meets the EUI target (EUIt). Buildings with EUIs that exceed the EUIt will also need energy saving upgrades to reduce the EUI to meet the target, per step 5. Some buildings, such as campus buildings without separate energy meters or unique mixes of uses, will not be able to calculate an EUIt, and must also complete step 5.

  1. Benchmark and have a qualified person2 calculate the building's EUIt.
  2. Designate an individual as energy manager for the building.
  3. Develop and adopt an energy management plan.
  4. Develop and implement an operation and maintenance (O&M) program.
    • Note: Please read the Building Tune-Ups FAQ for questions about how the O&M program aligns with the Seattle Building Tune-Up requirements.
  5. Meet EUIt (if not already meeting or cannot calculate EUIt) by following the Investment Criteria process outlined in WAC 194-50 to identify and implement cost-effective energy efficiency measures.

Tier 2 buildings will be required to meet steps 1 - 4. Compliance and reporting for this new tier is expected July 1, 2027. The updated law requires Commerce to complete rulemaking by Dec. 1, 2023. 

What is the Timeline for Compliance?

Building owners will need to demonstrate that: 1) the O&M program has been implemented in their building, 2) the energy management plan is complete, and 3) that their building's weather normalized EUI is less than or equal to the building's EUIt for a minimum of 12 months before the compliance dates listed below. This means that the largest buildings need to be ready by June 2025! 

Graphic summarizing number of buildings required to comply with state CBPS policy by size

  • June 1, 2026 - Buildings >220,000 SF
  • June 1, 2027 - Buildings between 90,000 and 220,000 SF
  • June 1, 2028 - Buildings between 50,000 and 90,000 SF  

In mid-October 2021, the State mailed notification letters to owners of buildings that likely need to comply, based on Assessor information. If your building is already required to meet Seattle's Building Tune-Ups requirement, it likely needs to meet this new State law as well. They have also created an online Clean Buildings Portal for compliance and buildings may begin reporting starting July 1, 2023. The notification letters have a unique code needed to access the Portal. If you do not receive a letter by November, have a building you don't think needs to comply, or have another question, please visit the State's Clean Buildings Portal webpage for instructions.

What Help is Available?

Seattle Clean Buildings Accelerator

The Seattle Clean Buildings Accelerator is a no-cost technical support and training program for Seattle building owners and managers to meet the State of WA Clean Buildings requirements and to reduce emissions. It includes self-led education for all audiences, including all Seattle City Light customers, and light coaching prioritized for buildings that serve or are in BIPOC and frontline communities. Visit the website to learn more.

Early Adopter Incentives - Reserve Yours Now!

The State has launched an Early Adopter Incentive program of $0.85 per SF for early adopters whose buildings are currently 15 EUI points above the EUI targets, and who make improvements to achieve the target before the deadlines. The total pool of incentive dollars to support early compliance is $75 million state-wide. Multifamily buildings are voluntarily eligible for this incentive if they commit to meeting the state target. The State also has an Equitable and Inclusive Early Adopter Incentive Plan that reserves some of the incentives for buildings that meet at least one of the following criteria: highest energy user, located in rural community, multifamily affordable housing, or in an area with significant environmental health disparities. Visit the link below to learn more and to reserve a spot now.

OSE projects that about 150 Tier 1 Seattle buildings may be eligible for the incentive, based on their estimated EUIt, and most of those (about 85%) may meet the equity criteria.

The expansion bill also included an incentive program with an additional $150 million available for Tier 2 buildings at a rate of $.30 cents per square foot.

More Resources

Seattle City Light and/or other utility incentives and rebates can assist you with certain upgrades. Furthermore, City Light's Lighting Design Lab offers trainings and recorded sessions on energy-efficient electric technologies, such heat pumps and lighting that will both meet the Seattle Energy Code and could support owners meeting the State standards.

City of Seattle Resources

WA State Education Resources

    Utility and WA State Incentives   

    Financing Highlights 


    Footnotes

    1 - Energy Use Intensity (EUI) is measured in annual energy use per square foot of building area (kBtu/SF/year). The EUIt will be based on the mix of building uses (e.g. office, retail, hospital, etc.) and the building's weather normalized EUI will be used to determine if the building meets or exceeds (is greater than) the EUI target (EUIt).
    2 - Per WAC 194-50-30, Section 3 Definitions, a Qualified Person is: "a person having training, expertise, and three years professional experience in building energy use analysis, and being any of the following: 1. A licensed professional architect or engineer in the jurisdiction where the project is located;  2. A person with Building Operator Certification (BOC) Level II by the Northwest Energy Efficiency Council;  3. A certified commissioning professional; 4. A qualified energy auditor; 5. A certified energy manager (CEM) in current standing, certified by the Association of Energy Engineers (AEE); 6. An energy management professional (EMP) certified by the Energy Management Association." Review the complete standards for official compliance information.