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Local Government Leading: District of Columbia

By Better Buildings Beat Team on Nov 08, 2018

This week, we highlight the District of Columbia who was selected as one of the winners of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ American Cities Climate Challenge.

The District’s ambitious and innovative energy and climate action plan was one of the reasons it was selected as a winner. The District of Columbia recently released its energy and climate action plan, Clean Energy DC. The plan is a roadmap for the District to achieve a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2032. The plan identifies 55 actions that the District can pursue today, and future next steps it can take to meet its 2032 GHG goal and put the District on a path to carbon neutrality by 2050.

As a winner, the District of Columbia will receive technical assistance and support to jumpstart implementation of Clean Energy DC and through the Climate Challenge’s acceleration program achieve the following actions by 2020:

  • Develop and launch a building energy performance standard for large buildings to support the District’s goal of net-zero carbon buildings by 2050;
  • Launch the DC Green Bank which aligns finance programs with existing strategies to incentivize energy efficiency and renewable energy and accelerate building performance improvements;
  • Improve transportation services, add new mobility options, and expand bicycling and pedestrian infrastructure to encourage commuters and residents to use alternative transportation.


The District of Columbia is a valued participant in the Better Buildings Challenge and has demonstrated a long-term commitment to energy efficiency programs and policies. The District committed to a multi-pronged action plan to reduce energy consumption in over 65 million square feet of publicly and privately held buildings by at least 20% by 2020.

To reach its energy goals, the District has invested in long-term incentive programs that will support a public-private collaboration and ensure that the District of Columbia is a national leader in the energy efficiency economy.  Some of these programs and activities include:

  • Passing a benchmarking and disclosure ordinance covering more than 3,000 private commercial buildings and 350 million square feet;
  • Creating the Sustainable Energy Utility (SEU), a one-stop shop for the District's energy efficiency solutions and resources and energy efficiency financing tools, which will provide $225 million in competitively-priced capital to commercial owners for energy efficiency improvements over the next nine years;
  • Completing energy audits of its own facilities and investing at least $4 million in efficiency improvements for those facilities over the next five years.

Through its continuous work and investments in energy efficiency, the District of Columbia works with its community and local businesses to improve the built environment and quality of life for its citizens.