Pioneering Climate Policy: DC Council Mandates Carbon-free New Buildings 

Multi-faceted Bills Make the Nation’s Capital a U.S. Climate Policy Leader 

WASHINGTON DC – The Council of the District of Columbia on Monday approved two bills that will for the first time mandate that all new and substantially renovated buildings in the city be powered by 100% carbon-free energy (with the exception of low-rise residential structures). This sets in motion a phase out of methane gas use across much of the nation’s capital.  

The city government itself, as part of these new bills, will also permanently discontinue purchasing fossil-fuel powered vehicles and carbon-burning  appliances in government buildings. These actions now put DC at the forefront of climate policy among US states and cities. 

“These two bills constitute the District’s most important effort yet in setting big climate goals and building a path to meet them,” said Mike Tidwell, executive director of CCAN Action Fund. “It is gratifying to see the nation’s capital set the bar high for the rest of the nation. Progress at the local level is especially welcome at a moment when Congress, located just a few blocks away, has not passed the reconciliation package with urgently needed federal investments in climate action.” 

The two landmark bills, entitled the Climate Change Commitment Act and the DC Clean Energy Building Codes Amendment Act, were passed 13-0 by the full DC Council. Together, the two bills will:

  • Commit the District to being entirely carbon neutral by 2045, with an aggressive greenhouse gas reduction timetable including a 60% cut in greenhouse gasses from 2006 levels by 2030;
  • Require all new or substantially improved commercial buildings, and all buildings taller than three stories, constructed in the District after December 31, 2026, to be “net-zero energy” – producing on site or buying more clean energy than they use over the course of a year – and prohibit all on-site fuel combustion to provide thermal energy to the building.
  • Mandate that all District government operations be carbon-neutral by 2040.
  • Prohibit the District from installing new fossil fuel space or water heating appliances in District-owned buildings beginning January 1, 2025;
  • Require the District to purchase or lease only zero-emissions vehicles unless such vehicles are unavailable beginning January 1, 2026; 

Passage of the two 2022 bills is the District’s most significant step forward in the fight against climate change since 2018, when the Council passed the Clean Energy Omnibus Amendment (CEDC) Act. At the time, CEDC was one of the nation’s most aggressive and fastest-acting 100% renewable energy bills in the US.

“Congratulations to the DC Council for passing the new Climate Change Commitment Act and the DC Clean Energy Building Codes Amendment Act,” said Tidwell. “Special thanks to Committee Chair Mary Cheh and her Council colleagues Charles Allen, Christina Henderson, Janeese Lewis George, Phil Mendelson, Brianne Nadeau, Brooke Pinto, and Robert White for introducing and moving these bills forward.”

The Council of the District of Columbia will post the final version of both bills to the Legislative Information Management System at

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CCAN Action Fund is the advocacy arm of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, the oldest and largest grassroots organization dedicated exclusively to raising awareness about the impacts and solutions associated with global warming in the Chesapeake Bay region. For 20 years, CCAN has been at the center of the fight for clean energy and wise climate policy in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C.