Washington Clean Buildings Standard: Four Steps to Compliance.

Chris Olmsted

Life Sciences Market Lead

03 March 2021

Benchmark. Budget. Document. Track. Prepare your building and your budget today.

The new rules of performance.

The Clean Building Standard is a first-of-its-kind standard that requires thousands of commercial buildings to meet an energy performance target, make large capital investments, or be subject to substantial penalties. Don’t be fooled by the law’s June 1, 2026 compliance date, as there is significant work involved to comply with the law.

In addition to being prepared for the new standard, taking steps today gives you access to an incentive that can save you significant money. The state has allocated $75 million for a one-time Early Adopter Incentive. This program gets your building into compliance and helps pay for required capital projects. It’s expected to be completely full in July 2021. It’s time to get your building ready now.

Ready to get started? Here’s how.

Step 1 | Benchmark your building to determine your EUI.

Clean Building 4 Steps

The level of investment required by the Clean Buildings Standard is based on your Energy Use Intensity (EUI). This is a calculation of your total energy use, per conditioned square foot (NOT leasable space), per year.

A building’s EUI will be judged against a specific target. This target is based on your property type and operating conditions. Any EUI over this target will trigger additional expensive requirements and capital investment. If your EUI is within 20% of the state target, you may be able to control it before the compliance date. Benchmarking and controlling your energy use early can save you from required large capital investment. Without an accurate picture of your building’s EUI and your specific target, you are flying blind. In our recent building surveys, we found many facilities old benchmarks were incorrect due to missing data or use of the wrong square footage.

Step 2 | Budget for basic compliance.

Once you know where your building stands and on its way to the target EUI, you can make intelligent budget decisions. There are basic requirements for all buildings that can be spread out over budget years. Acting early gives you the opportunity to save money. The state has set aside $75M for an Early Adopter Incentive. This one-time incentive will pay for a majority of compliance costs. The program is open to buildings that are at least 15 points above their target EUI. However, when the dollars are gone; they’re gone. Applications are due July 1, 2021.

Step 3 | Document for lower compliance costs.

The Clean Buildings Standard requires that buildings document compliance with new basic requirements. This includes creating and maintaining: Energy Management Plan, Operations & Maintenance Plan, Staff Training Plan, and additional compliance forms. Having a professional onboard to benchmark the building to determine its current EUI, projected EUI target and submit documentation to the state assures that you are not missing any important steps in the documentation. Basic documentation compliance costs will be low and vary based on your current documentation.

Step 4 | Track for the future of your building.

Good news…If your building is below its EUI target, no additional requirements apply. You just need to track your EUI to make sure it stays under the target. Small, low-cost steps can be taken to correct an EUI that begins to drift.

On the other hand, if your building is above its EUI target, the building must undergo an extensive energy audit (or make small changes ahead of your compliance date to hit your target). Energy saving projects will be identified and may be required to be implemented. These projects are likely to be expensive and fall under capital budgets. Track your EUI to know if capital planning is required.

You don’t have to go it alone.

While the Clean Buildings Standard may be new for you, UMC has been here before. Four years ago, we built a team of experts to assist our clients to comply with the Seattle Building Tune-Up law. Since then, UMC has become the most trusted third-party provider for Tune-Up compliance. Over the past year, our team has been working with the Washington State Department of Commerce to become experts in the new law and help guide how compliance will actually work.

Step-by-step, we’ve got your back.

Step 1 | Benchmark.

UMC’s team of experts can benchmark your building’s EUI to help you feel confident in where your building stands so you can plan and budget smartly.

Step 2 | Budget.

UMC’s team of experts will help you know how the new law will affect your budget and determine if you are eligible for significant cost savings through the Early Adoption Incentive.

Step 3 | Document.

UMC’s team of experts can guide you through the documentation process and assure it’s in compliance for optimal cost savings.

Step 4 | Track.

UMC’s team of experts can track your EUI so you’ll know if capital planning is required.

What happens if you don’t comply?

The state has made it an easy decision to comply with this law. The fines for non-compliance with the Clean Buildings Standard are significant. Depending on your level of non-compliance, the penalty is up to $1.00 per square foot, per year, for up to 18 months! Plan to be in compliance early and avoid the risk of penalties.

If you would like to learn more, share your thoughts, or would just like help starting your plan please reach out. My team and I have become experts, so you don’t have to be.

Chris Olmsted,

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