Converting Regulatory Compliance into Profit Improvement

By Brent Wittke, CEM | Commissioning, Certified Energy Manager

What to Know

Buildings contribute to 27% of greenhouse gas emissions in Washington (2015).

The Washington Clean Buildings Performance Standard (WACBPS) was developed by the Washington State Department of Commerce in an effort to meaningfully reduce building emissions. Residential and commercial buildings in the state of Washington account for 27% of statewide greenhouse gas emissions.

Required Compliance

Traditionally, newly developed codes and standards impact new construction, and significant remodels to existing buildings. However, the WACBPS requires compliance from both existing and new buildings over 20,000 sf statewide. Because this impacts more than 20,000 existing commercial and residential buildings, compliance has been broken into two tiers, with phased mandatory compliance beginning on July 1, 2026, for buildings over 220,000 sf. [1]

chartRegardless of a building’s age, compliance with the standard is a complex process of auditing energy consumption, establishing Energy Use Intensity (EUI) targets, creating Energy Star Portfolio Manager and Clean Buildings Portal profiles for the building, integrating utility/energy provider data with each profile, developing an Operations and Maintenance Program (O&M) and an Energy Management Plan (EMP), and implementing them a minimum of 12 months prior to the buildings compliance deadline.

The Washington Department of Commerce will manage program enforcement through electronic reporting and recording. Building owners may receive violation notifications by mail with penalties up to $5,000, plus an additional daily amount of $1 per sf per year for 18 months. For example, a non-compliant building that is 100,000 sf may owe a total of $155,000 at the end of the 18-month period.

Early Action Incentives

Overwhelming? Capital intensive? On the surface and without an experienced partner to navigate the process, yes. More than 75% of the buildings in the state of Washington will find the initial pathway to compliance to be a significant challenge. Buildings that begin the process the soonest have the best chance of capturing a share of the $75 million in incentive funds available, securing contractors and equipment to implement identified Energy Efficiency Measures (EEM’s), and ultimately, compliance by meeting EUI targets.

Compliance Benefits

Compliant buildings should provide owners with profit improvements. The implementation of an EMP to meet Department of Energy (DOE) EUI targets statistically yields annual energy savings of approximately 30%. Savings of 50%-70% are frequently achieved. For example, a typical 100,000 sf commercial building in Seattle pays an average of $450,000 per year for energy. Implementing an EMP as stipulated by the Washington Clean Buildings Performance Standard (WACBPS) would provide $135,000 – $315,000 per year in additional profit through EEM implementation.


Examples of Energy Efficiency Measures (EEMs):

  • HVAC/steam systems – Reduce energy losses: Leaks, insulation, heat recovery, outside air %, and economizers
  • Automation/controls systems: Start/Stop optimization, setback optimization, and occupancy automation strategies
  • Lighting: LED upgrades, occupancy sensors, and daylighting sensors
  • Envelope: Glazing film, leak detection and correction, and insulation

Coffman is positioned to support building owners and operators through the entire process of compliance with the WACBPS by providing:

  • Certified Energy Managers and Building Energy Assessment Professionals registered with the State of Washington to meet the requirements of “Energy Manager” and “Qualified Person” who will assist in creating Energy Star and Clean Building Portal profiles, DOE benchmarking, EUI target development, O&M, and EMP creation, The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) audits, EEM identification, compliance documentation, annual reporting, and pursuit of available incentive funding.
  • Multidiscipline engineering support with a focus on providing incremental improvements, leveraging existing systems and equipment for retrofits and upgrades. Or, if investment grade capital improvements are necessary, Coffman can provide RFP documentation development, complete system replacement engineering, and construction management support services.

Every project and situation is unique, and we welcome specific questions about yours. Contact us through the form on this page or give us a call.

[1] Washington State Department of Commerce – Clean Buildings Performance Standard