Home Energy conservation Incentives for building owners pave the way for WA’s transition to a greener, cleaner future

Incentives for building owners pave the way for WA’s transition to a greener, cleaner future

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The City of Bellevue recently took the bold step of creating a program to encourage building owners, landlords and building managers to participate in the state financial incentive program to make large buildings more energy efficient.

It’s working, as several building owners, property managers, and landlords have come forward to seek the use of $75 million in state financial incentives to create a more energy-efficient working and living environment in the part of an effort to transition our state to a greener and cleaner future. .

It’s all part of Washington’s effort to take the national lead in reducing our carbon footprint by mandating a maximum amount of energy that can be consumed in a year based on size, use and location. of a commercial building. In an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by reducing a building’s energy consumption, lawmakers in 2019 allocated funds to incentivize building owners to retrofit their buildings to meet the standards.

We encourage other municipalities to follow Bellevue’s example and implement programs to reach building owners in their cities. Public and private services should also intensify. They have direct access to commercial bill payers, all of whom pay a rate on their utility bills to cover energy conservation and efficiency projects. Our dozens of utilities as well as investor-owned utilities such as Puget Sound Energy and Avista are all important players in spreading the word.

State rules require buildings to meet numerical energy efficiency goals starting in 2026 and initially only apply to buildings over 50,000 square feet. But state lawmakers this year expanded the program to include buildings up to 20,000 square feet and multi-family apartment buildings starting at 50,000 square feet. The expansion created a Tier 2 covered building category.

Depending on building size and usage, in June 2026 owners of buildings 220,000 square feet and larger will have to comply or face fines of $5,000 plus $1 per square foot per year. Buildings between 90,000 and 220,000 square feet have until June 1, 2027 to comply, and buildings between 50,000 and 90,000 square feet must comply by June 1, 2028. Recently covered Tier 2 buildings expansions must submit reports documenting their energy consumption analysis, energy management plan, and operations and maintenance program by July 2027 to be eligible for an additional $75 million incentive pool. dollars. Agriculture and certain manufacturing buildings are exempt. Although some buildings will not have to comply for several years, now is the time to apply for a portion of the state’s $150 million in financial incentives.

Funds will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. Owners of Tier 1 buildings, including multi-family buildings over 50,000 square feet, could be eligible to receive incentives of up to $0.85 per square foot to help offset renovation costs. Owners of qualifying Tier 2 buildings could receive $0.30 per square foot by demonstrating compliance. According to early research, more than 24,000 commercial and multi-family buildings in Washington will need to meet the new requirements.

When done right, energy efficiency improvements pay off. Upgrade costs will depend on what is needed. Fixes could include upgrading outdated technologies, such as mechanical equipment and controls, upgrading lighting to LED technology, switching to high-efficiency heat pumps, and verifying that systems work in harmony with each other.

By taking a comprehensive approach, the required energy efficiency improvements can be achieved with minimal capital contribution from the owner and without impacting rental costs. A smart energy efficiency project, when carried out under a performance contract, is like a free meal that pays you to eat it.

Building owners and landlords need to quickly determine whether they are meeting state standards because it takes time to renovate their buildings. Even though it looks like the deadlines are years away, building owners will face fines for non-compliance.

Having a clean building is a state requirement and it’s the right thing to do for the environment and for building occupants.