The District of Columbia City Council passed a bill on December 5 to require private developers to follow the standards of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), which would make D.C. the first major city to have such building requirements. The bill, which still needs to be approved by Mayor Anthony Williams, would force all commercial development of 50,000 square feet or more, whether new construction, renovation or old building, to meet the USGBC standards by the year 2012.

The USGBC standards are unique in a way. For the most part, they don’t mandate specific features. LEED works on a points system, and it awards points to a project based on such categories as site selection, energy efficiency and materials. To be certified LEED, a building must be awarded a certain number of points.

Contractors would be able to meet these requirements by installing waterless toilets or recycled carpet, but one of the biggest upgrades would be energy efficiency. The initial costs are high, but energy efficiency pays for itself in the long run with a lower electric bill.

The Mayor is expected to pass the bill, so look out for heightened electrical efficiency work in Washington D.C.      EC