News Brief

Washington D.C. Releases Resilient Design Guidelines

Designers in the District are being encouraged to design for extreme heat, flooding, and power outages.

[Disclaimer: BuildingGreen’s founder, Alex Wilson, was a primary author of this report, with project support from Candace Pearson.]

Image of the report cover.

The guidelines present 40 detailed strategies for enhancing resilience. 

Image: D.C. Department of Energy and the Environment
What do holeless elevators and termite shields have in common? They’re both recommended resilient design features for public buildings, according to a recent guide released by Washington, D.C.’s Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE).

The report introduces the District’s primary climate vulnerabilities (extreme heat and flooding), details a methodology for assessing risk at a particular project site, and ultimately describes 40 building and landscape strategies that can help enhance resilience.

Practitioners in that region will find newly commissioned climate projections specific to D.C., including:

  • climate-adjusted design parameters for sea-level rise,
  • design storm accumulation projections, and
  • increased cooling degree days projected for 2020, 2050, and 2080.

Other parts of the guide are broadly applicable to pursuing resilient design in many areas. For example, the guide lays out a process for developing a “resilience profile” factoring in the criticality, expected lifespan, and location of the project. And, each resilience strategy is described in a two-page spread, designed so that they can be pulled from the guide and used as sharable fact sheets with clients. 

The "Resilient Design Guidelines" fall under the umbrella of the District’s Climate Ready D.C. Initiative and build on previous work developing a resilience auditing tool for multi-family buildings. Other cities have issued similar design guidelines, including Boston and New York City.    

For more information:


Published April 5, 2021

Pearson, C. (2021, March 18). Washington D.C. Releases Resilient Design Guidelines. Retrieved from

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