Community Associations Update - November 2011

Date: November 28, 2011

Benchmarking Regulations Apply to Large D.C. Community Associations
By: Jane Saindon Rogers, Esq.

Studies have shown that buildings in the District are responsible for significant greenhouse gas emissions, so the District is trying to reduce energy use in both public and private buildings, including condominiums and cooperatives. The city is issuing new regulations that focus on driving down water and power use over time, by comparing future years to a baseline year.

The new "benchmarking" requirements would initially apply only to large privately owned buildings (including condos and co-ops) over 200,000 square feet. Eventually, the requirements would also apply to buildings as small as 50,000 square feet, according to the following schedule:

Building Size Utility Year Data** Benchmark Report Due
Over 200,000 sq. ft. 2010* July 1, 2011***
Over 150,000 sq. ft. 2011* April 1, 2012**
Over 100,000 sq. ft. 2012* April 1, 2013**
Over 50,000 sq. ft. 2013* April 1, 2014**

* and each year that follows
** and annually thereafter on April 1 for the previous year's data
*** The deadline for reporting 2010 benchmark information for private buildings is extended pending release of final regulations.

Under the regulations, the Association has to learn to use and then open an account in "Portfolio Manager," a US Energy Star program used to measure building performance. They will have to gather data regarding energy and water usage for the building and are required to request information from the occupants of the condominium units and cooperative apartments.

Non-residential tenants are required to provide this data and may be subjected to fines and penalties for failure to respond. However, residential tenants are not required to respond. Regardless of whether its tenants respond, a building owner must comply with reporting requirements or may be subject to a fine of $100 per day of noncompliance. Where tenant information cannot be obtained, building owners may use a partial-building reporting option. Under the proposed rules, building owners must preserve records and keep them available for inspection and review for three years.

Several guidance documents are available on the DDOE website at Community associations with buildings exceeding 200,000 square feet should begin reviewing the guideline documents and gathering the data necessary to comply with the requirements in anticipation of a likely January, 2012, reporting deadline.