Senate Bill 5854

Written by Weber Thompson Senior Principal Amanda Keating.

One of the most encouraging things to come out of this year’s legislative session is the passing and signing into law of Senate Bill 5854, aka the Washington State Reducing Climate Pollution in the Built Environment ordinance which went into effect July 26th.

The bill’s first sentence establishes the high priority of energy conservation. “The legislature finds that energy efficiency is the cheapest, quickest, and cleanest way to meet rising energy needs, confront climate change, and boost our economy.”

Obviously, in order to conserve energy, we first need to know how much we’re using building by building. Local public utility companies are tasked with completing the analysis to establish an Energy Star rating for every non residential building over the next two years. This is followed with a required disclosure by building owners of their Energy Star rating to any prospective buyer, lessor or lendor. A little friendly competition can be galvanizing in terms of changing behavior, right? The disclosure is phased in with large buildings (over 50,000 sf) by Jan. 2011, followed by buildings over 10,000 sf  by Jan 2012.

It’s also worth noting that public state agencies may not enter into a new lease or lease renewal for a building with an energy star rating below 75 unless an audit has been conducted within the last two years, and the owner agrees to implement energy conservation measures within the first two years of the lease agreement.

Along with analyzing what energy we’re using in existing buildings is a ratcheting up of the Washington State Energy Code requirements to meet a 70% reduction in energy use in all new construction, including residential, by 2031. The roadmap for getting there is being developed by the Department of Community Trade and Economic Development.

All in all, this new law has the potential to make a positive change to the marketplace; with knowledge comes power, eh?

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