Developers braced for 'green' building codes in Washington D.C.
Washington D.C. is breaking new ground with green building regulations.
Washington D.C. is on the verge of adopting among the most environmentally stringent building codes in the country, ones that will force the development community to rethink how projects are designed and constructed from the bottom up.
Between the Green Building Act, the District’s proposed stormwater regulations and its proposed green building code, the first such code for D.C., the city has taken sustainable construction rules to levels unseen in the Washington area, and rarely seen in the U.S.
For the development community, the shift toward sustainability is welcomed, representatives say, but D.C. must be careful not to set the bar too high, too fast — stunting economic growth in the process. In the case of the stormwater regulations, D.C.’s building leaders warn jumping the gun will cause chaos.
While industry leaders say they embrace green construction, the amount of regulation has not been well-received. It’s perceived, publicly and privately, as excessive red tape that the largest developers will likely withstand, but the smaller companies may struggle to digest.
“The private sector really has taken the lead in responding to market demand with respect to sustainability,” said Ernie Jarvis, president of the D.C. Building Industry Association. “We are one of the greenest cities in the country, and it was really because of us responding to the market. We didn’t need a green building act to do the right thing.”
The proposed green building code, released Dec. 7 as part of an overall building code update, will apply to all new or substantially renovated commercial buildings larger than 10,000 square feet and multifamily buildings four stories or taller.
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