What is the Clean Buildings Act?
In 2019, Washington State enacted the Clean Buildings Act (HB 1572) and in 2022, the Act was expanded by the passage of SB 5722. The legislation requires building owners (20,000 SF or greater) to reduce their energy usage to meet or exceed prescribed Energy Usage Intensity (EUI) targets based on the building’s usage type. (For instance, hotels have a different EUI than restaurants, and buildings with mixed use have an EUI that is weighted based on the conditioned square footage for each use type.) Compliance for the largest buildings begins in 2026.
What are the consequences for noncompliance?
Significant financial penalties, starting at $5,000 plus $1 per Gross Square Foot every year that you are out of compliance (less for buildings below 50,000 SF). Once a notice of non-compliance and violation is assessed, the penalty is due in 30 days. Late payments and continued escalation of penalties accrue until the property complies with the law.
Buildings will be evaluated for compliance every five years following, with the expectation that EUI targets will be reduced so buildings consume less energy for each successive compliance phase.
About the program
The Washington Hospitality Association’s Clean Buildings Concierge Program is designed to help members with large buildings reduce energy use, leverage financial incentives for energy-efficiency projects, and comply early with the WA State Clean Buildings standard.
Participants in the program will receive the following services:
- Energy Star Portfolio Manager qualified technical support for energy efficiency benchmarking required for compliance (complimentary). Get your free benchmarking here.
- Building scoping assessment to identify energy savings opportunities performed at MacDonald-Miller’s cost.
- Early Adopter Incentive application support for buildings 15+ points above their energy target. (complimentary)
- Access to training focused on energy benchmarking, operation and maintenance best practices, and energy management planning. (complimentary)
- Access to Clean Buildings compliance help desk and “how to” videos. (complimentary)
- Recognition as a Washington Hospitality Clean Building Ambassador.
Buildings over 50,000 square feet in Washington State are eligible to participate in the Clean Buildings Concierge Program. Building owners required to comply with the state Clean Buildings standard should have received a letter from the state Department of Commerce with information on how to comply. (MacDonald-Miller can help your retrieve another copy if you did not retain the letter.)
Clean Buildings Expansion legislation, passed in 2022, extends the law to commercial buildings 20,000 square feet and higher and multifamily buildings over 50,000 square feet, with later compliance dates. Even though multifamily residential buildings are not required to comply with the state law yet, they are eligible for the Early Adopter Incentives if they meet specified energy-efficiency eligibility requirements.
Why comply early?
The State launched an Early Adopters Incentive Program (EAI) offering up to $0.85 / SF to help offset costs associated with bringing your building into compliance. EAIs are awarded on a first–come, first–served basis. MacDonald–Miller will also help secure utility incentives and guarantee those savings under the association’s program. Utility incentives are in addition to Early Adopter Incentives.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
How do I calculate my building's Energy Usage Intensity (EUI)?
Your EUI is the ratio of energy consumption to conditioned square footage (excluding parking garages, and other non-conditioned space.) Having your building benchmarked and securing a Preliminary Scoping Assessment is the first step.
If the building EUI is below the state mandated EUI, am I in compliance?
Not necessarily. You must provide 12 consecutive months of proof that your building’s EUI is at or below the target EUI. Your building may not have the equipment necessary to prove that the building complies. The compliance process is involved, and the paperwork is complex. MacDonald-Miller will help members prove your building complies and will complete the paperwork for you.
Is there an estimate of the various state, local, and utility incentives to perform these Energy Efficiency Measures (EEMs)?
It is common for utility incentives to offset the total required capital between 30%-70%. MacDonald-Miller can provide you with specifics for your building in terms of the required capital and total incentives available.