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Washington State Clean Buildings Act and impacts on Puyallup schools

Puyallup School District needs significant building upgrades district-wide to comply with a new state law within the next three school years.

Washington state's second-largest contributor to energy consumption and emissions (after transportation) is commercial buildings, attributed to their energy-intensive functions such as heating, cooling, and lighting. And all PSD schools are earmarked as commercial buildings under the new state law.

The Washington State Clean Building Act is a new policy to enhance energy efficiency and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions focusing on commercial buildings, including public schools. This legislative initiative is pivotal in the state's comprehensive strategy to combat climate change by bolstering the energy performance of existing structures.  This endeavor aligns closely with the state’s 2019 climate package and is a pioneering effort nationally.

A central feature introduced by the Clean Buildings Act is the formulation of Energy Use Intensity (EUI) targets. Energy Use Intensity relates to the quantity of energy consumed per unit of building space, often quantified as energy usage per square foot (or square meter) annually. These targets are based on building occupancy and are mandatory for commercial buildings within specific timeframes.

The Clean Buildings Performance Standard is mandatory for Tier 1 buildings in the next few years. These are non-residential buildings with more than 50,000 square feet of floor space, excluding parking garages. Puyallup School District has 34 Tier 1 & 2 facilities. 

The current Weather Normalized Site EUI for sites Tier 1 is fifteen points or greater than the calculated EUI target, making them non-compliant. Compliance requires one year of reporting at or below the EUI target. Puyallup High School is a Tier 1 school that is 12.7 EUIs past compliance and our first school required to be compliant by 2026, meaning upgrades are required by 2025. For PSD, five schools reach critical consumption use. Four of them require upgrades by 2027, less than three years from today.

  • Rogers High School –32.9 over, compliance due June 2027
  • Alyen Junior High –27.7 over, 2027
  • Glacier View Junior High – 19.2 over, 2027
  • Kallas Junior High –17.2 over, 2027
  • Ballou Junior High – 34.6 over, 2028
Tier 1 & 2 Schools with Critical Needs to Become Compliant

A complete comparison chart is included at the bottom of the page.
**Puyallup High School will be the first school required to comply by 2026.

Compliance deadlines vary by building size, but only five of the 34 buildings identified meet the compliance standards. Four buildings were renovated as part of the 2015 voter-approved bond package.

  • Hunt Elementary (bond)
  • Northwood Elementary (bond)
  • Firgrove Elementary (bond)
  • Dessie F. Evans Elementary (bond)
  • Karshner Elementary (renovation due to fire)

We have two compliance pathways. Energy performance must be met through:

  • Energy Use Intensity target (EUIt)
  • Investment Criteria 
  EUIt Path Investment Criteria Path
  1. 1. Building type has an EUIt 
  2. Building is individually metered to determine EUI
  1. Complete an ASHRAE L2 Audit
Compliance EUI <= EUIt Implement optimized bundle of Energy Efficient Measures (EEMs)
Verifiication EUI calculated in ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager using 12 consecutive months of data Within 15 months of implementation, energy savings meet or exceed 75% of savings projected in audit


Early Adopter Incentive (EAI)

What is it? Incentivizes buildings far from energy performance requirements to meet Clean Building requirements.
  • $75M total available
  • Incentive of $0.85/Sq Ft
  • Tier 1 building or multifamily residential building > 50K Sq Ft
  • Energy Use Intensity (EUI) is > 15 points above average
  • Complete an approved energy audit
  • Comply early with Clean Buildings Performance Standard
  • Submit Early Adopter Incentive application
  • Within 18 months after application approval, implement all Energy Efficient Measures
  • Within 18 Months after measures implemented, verify EUI meets target and all Clean Building requirements are met

Conditional Compliance

What is it?
  • If the verification of the EUIt or Investment Criteria pathway cannot be met by the compliance date, conditional compliance may be pursued to avoid the penalty.
  • Complete an ASHRAE L2 Audit
  • Implement all cost-effective Energy Efficient Measures (EEMs) or EEMs to meet Energy Intensity target (EUIt)
  • Energy Management Plan (EMP) and O&M Program are implemented.
  • Submit for conditional compliance no later than 180 days prior to compliance deadline.
  • Annual reporting is required until compliance is met


Tier 1 & 2 Schools in Compliance

In the coming years, expect to hear more about PowerED, an initiative to improve energy management across the district, maximize energy savings, capture rebates, and increase classroom comfort—all while complying with state law. To comply with the Clean Buildings Act, the district has partnered with McKinstry to develop a compliance plan for all Tier 1 and 2 buildings.

The compliance process will evaluate various building systems, including the building envelope, domestic hot water, HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning), refrigeration, lighting, controls, and electric power distribution.

Our path to compliance includes the following steps:

  • Identification of Covered Buildings: The act delineates specific building types encompassed by its provisions. 
  • Compliance and Reporting: Building proprietors subject to the Clean Buildings Act, including PSD, are mandated to consistently monitor and report their buildings' energy consumption and efficiency metrics. Required reporting encompasses calculating the building's EUI and comparing it against the established targets.
  • Implementation of Energy Efficiency Measures: To meet EUI targets, building owners must introduce energy-efficient measures and technologies. These initiatives could encompass insulation enhancements, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system optimization, improved lighting efficiency, and adoption of smart building technologies. Costs are borne by the building owner or operator, in our case, the PSD's capital budget.
  • Verification and Penalties: Adherence to EUI targets is verified through audits or inspections. Non-compliance may result in penalties or repercussions as stipulated in the Clean Buildings Act. 

With additional capital funding, the district will avoid fines for failing to meet compliance requirements. These fines include a base amount and daily fines based on building size, with a total penalty currently estimated at $3,828,696.40 for Tier 1 identified schools between 2027 and 2028. Additional penalties can be assessed based on inflation or interest accrual, and other fines may be assessed for compliance past the due date. 

State fines are withdrawn from Puyallup School District's general fund, not the capital budget, and could impact student and classroom support and programs.

Puyallup School District (PSD) is working hard to tackle a wide range of challenges related to school infrastructure upgrades, sustainability, energy management goals, and now alignment with the Washington State Clean Buildings Performance Standard (CBPS). Unfortunately, many districts have struggled to secure enough funding, often leading to complex decisions prioritizing classroom resources over maintenance and operations--this, in turn, has resulted in deferred maintenance, which can be costly and challenging to address. Balancing these needs with fiscal responsibility is a priority.

Learn more about the Clean Buildings Act:

Clean Buildings - Washington State Department of Commerce

WAC Chapter 194-50

Clean Building Compliance Dates