Beginning in 2026, fleet vehicle purchases and leases for Washington, D.C. must be...

Beginning in 2026, fleet vehicle purchases and leases for Washington, D.C. must be zero-emissions vehicles (ZEVs), when the models needed are readily available and on the market.

Photo: David Mark via Pixabay

Beginning in 2026, fleet vehicle purchases and leases for Washington, D.C. must be zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs). That's according to the district's Climate Commitment Act of 2022, recently signed by Mayor Muriel Bowser. The legislation focuses on creating a carbon neutral local government. The district as a whole has set a goal of reaching carbon neutrality by 2045. To reach that goal, the legislation requires the local government to be carbon neutral by 2040.

A separate piece of legislation, considered at the same time at the Climate Commitment Act, establishes a net zero building code. The Clean Energy DC Building Code Amendment Act requires all new buildings and large renovations to be net-zero construction by 2026. The DCist reports that Councilmember Mary Cheh, who introduced the bills, explained that buildings account for close to 75% of the district's emissions.

“These two bills – which I’m proud the Council was able to fund in full in the Fiscal Year 2023 budget – are a tremendous step forward in the District’s work to cut emissions that contribute to climate change," Cheh said of the bill signings. "No one can say the District is not doing its part to address both the causes and effects of climate change, and hopefully this legislation will be a model for other jurisdictions to follow.”

The purchasing and leasing requirement allows exceptions based on whether certain ZEV types are readily available on the market. According to the legislation, the market availability of ZEVs considers the large amount of vehicles that district agencies must purchase, and whether there are electric versions of larger vehicles like snowplows.

A staff member for the DC Council's told Government Fleet the legislation does not mean the district will immediately need to sell or scrap existing internal combustion engine vehicles. It means that as those vehicles reach the end of their lifespan, their replacements will need to be ZEVs.

The Department of Public Works has installed and manages more than 100 EV charging stations, 99 of which were installed during fiscal year 2021 alone. The department is also transitioning a number of its vehicles that cannot be electric vehicles (EVs) to biodiesel.

Department of Public Works-Owned Alternative Fuel Vehicles
(as of spring 2021):

  • Natural Gas (CNG): 70
  • Flex Fuel (E85-Ethanol): 191
  • Electric: 3
  • Plug-In Hybrid: 32
  • Hybrid: 48
  • Biodiesel: 475
  • 100% Biodiesel: 24