Green Building and Energy Reduction Standards for State Agencies

Program Green Building and Energy Reduction Standards for State Agencies
Category Regulatory Policy
Implementing sector State
Last Update
State Washington
Technologies Solar - Passive, Solar Water Heat, Solar Space Heat, Solar Photovoltaics, Daylighting

On January 5, 2005, Washington’s governor signed Executive Order 05-01, directing state agencies to adopt green building practices in the construction of all new buildings and in major (over 60%) renovation of existing buildings. Beginning in 2005, building projects over 25,000 square feet must meet the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) “Silver” Standard, or be certified by a credible third party. The Department of General Administration (GA), now part of the Department of Enterprise Services (DES), was required to develop and implement a review process to make sure that these standards are applied in building projects of 5,000 to 25,000 square feet entering the pre-design or design phase when such projects apply for certification. DES ensures the integration of green building and design practices into all new construction and renovation projects, and provides reimbursable training and support to affected project managers.

Executive Order 05-01 set the goal that - by September 2009 - state agencies must use all practicable and cost-effective means available, including energy efficiency and renewable energy measures, to reduce energy purchases by 10% from fiscal year 2003 levels. Procedures for monitoring, documentation, and reporting of the progress of these efforts are outlined in the order. In addition to energy efficiency in state buildings, this order also set requirements for fuel efficiency in state vehicle fleets and life-cycle impacts of paper use in state agencies. Executive Order 07-02 reaffirmed these goals.

Effective July 2005, SB 5509 set guidelines for major facility projects for buildings over 5,000 square feet. This law (RCW39.35D) requires all state agencies, institutions of higher education and other entities receiving state funding to meet at least the LEED “Silver” Standard in design, construction, and maintenance, to the extent appropriate.

Public agencies must also evaluate the energy consumption of all publicly owned or leased facilities, and consider the use of one or more renewable energy systems in the design of such facilities. HB 1095 of 2015 expanded this requirement to include the consideration of combined heat and power systems. 

Public K-12 school construction projects receiving state assistance must be built to the Washington Sustainable Schools Protocol (WSSP), or to LEED silver. The WSSP requires a 10% reduction in energy use beyond what is required by the Washington State Energy Code. The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction will enforce these guidelines and provide relevant information to school districts. The GA will develop and issue guidelines for state agencies. The Department of Commerce (formerly the Department of Community, Trade, and Economic Development) adopted sustainable building standards in July 2008, and set a minimum level of sustainable performance for projects applying to the Housing Trust Fund (HTF). As part of this, Commerce developed The Evergreen Sustainable Development Standard.

In 2009, SB 5854 required the Department of Commerce to conduct a study on tax incentives to encourage green building in commercial, residential, and public buildings. It also divided the state into two climatic zones, set various insulation and efficiency standards for residential buildings, and required more inclusive data collection methods from utilities. Finally, it set the goal for zero fossil-fuel greenhouse gas emission homes and buildings by 2031.

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