D.C. Celebrates Decade of Green Building Leadership

Green Roof at the U.S. Coast Guard headquarters in D.C. (Courtesy of gsa.gov)
Green Roof at the U.S. Coast Guard headquarters in D.C. (Courtesy of gsa.gov)

D.C. is celebrating a decade of green building leadership this week, 10 years after the official enactment of the city’s landmark Green Building Act.

The act, which is the first legislation of its kind, requires green building certification for private, public and publicly financed projects. With more than 1,200 projects certified by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program, representing nearly 140 million square feet, the District is home to more LEED-certified buildings and square footage per capita than any other major city in the U.S.

“The District is committed to advancing green building policy and reducing our greenhouse gas emissions 50 percent by 2032 and 80 percent by 2050,” said D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. “We will continue to spearhead innovative policies and programs and ensure residents in all eight wards benefit from cleaner air, lower energy bills, and green jobs.”

The metropolitan area has ranked No. 1 for two years running on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s list of regions with the most Energy Star-certified buildings.

There are 686 buildings in the D.C. region that have achieved Energy Star certification from EPA, with energy savings representing an estimated $179 million. In 2008, the District passed the first energy and water benchmarking law in the nation, and the benchmarking requirements have resulted in disclosure of energy data for more than 1,500 buildings, officials said.

“The Green Building Act is the result of robust engagement between the public and private sectors, which has achieved widespread support and adoption,” said Tommy Wells, director of D.C.’s Department of Energy & Environment (DOEE). “Not only has the Green Building Act positioned the District as a leader in green building policy, it has created a culture where green building is considered the norm.”

The D.C. government was one of the first adopters of green building deployment following the Green Building Act’s passage. Since the act was passed, the city’s Department of General Services has completed 37 LEED-certified projects, totaling more than 3.3 million square feet.

“District facilities with sustainable features help to elevate the quality of life for more than 100,000 students, workers, residents and visitors every day,” said department Director Greer Johnson Gillis. “Our buildings impact student achievement, government performance, and public perception — which is why we are proud to be a national leader in delivering high performance green buildings, year after year.”