Jeremy Sigmon

Good morning, Washington. Today marks the culmination of almost two years of work and thousands of hours of volunteer time to make the District of Columbia, once again, a national leader in better, greener buildings.

The USGBC-National Capital Region Chapter had this to say about the DC Green Construction Code: “This is a landmark achievement in the history of green buildings.”

Our CEO, Rick Fedrizzi said, “It’s a proud day for the District of Columbia, its residents and its children.  Congratulations to the Mayor and to all those who contributed to this landmark achievement. As LEED continues to accelerate new frontiers for what’s possible in green building excellence, it is a profound moment when many of our movement’s core ideas, metrics and practices are woven into the code – a city’s minimum expectation for almost every new building. This unprecedented commitment to green codes and LEED will ensure that more people will enjoy the benefits of healthier, more efficient, and lower impact buildings. Cities of the world, take note!”

So what’s so special? After all, communities of all sizes are making waves with their own laws and commitments to green building – through LEED, codes and other programs. Just check my article feed for one (long) set of examples.

Beyond any bias for my home town of now seven years, DC’s new law is important because it’s arguably the first in a new generation of regulations. In this new phase, communities now have the opportunity to carefully learn and apply so many of the lessons we’ve learned in other jurisdictions about green building policy. To name a few:

  • A big effort to engage the public and local experts yields a very good end product. (A DC volunteer’s view).
  • A code is the commonly agreed-upon expectation for how all buildings shall be designed and built. That will mean assessing where today’s best practice is and redefining a new, better, safer, and more responsible floor that levels the playing field for all. (How CA got started)
  • Government commitments to leadership with LEED help accelerate sustainability in buildings locally, creating space for green building activities and industries to flourish, and an opportunity to update the norms through greener codes and standards. (DC’s many green building programs and commitments)
  • You can’t manage what you don’t measure. The District continues to analyze and assess how its green building programs and outcomes are going (here). LEED, too, learns and grows, spurring a heightened focus on measurement and verification in LEED v4.

Hats off to my fair city, its leadership, and its many contributors for a job very well done.  Private sector leaders did all the hard work to make room for this recalibration of our community’s minimum expectations for buildings. It’s an inspiring vision for the future. Our job – yours and mine – is to help it catch on.

For more information and education on the DC Green Building Code (and much more), visit the USGBC-National Capital Region Chapter.  Read their press release here, and the Mayor’s press release here.