DOB News | May 2024 External Newsletter

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May 2024 Edition

A Message From The Director

Brian Hanlon

Dear Customers,

I can think of no better iteration of our newsletter than Building Safety Month to unveil our new video that further introduces DOB to the people that we serve. Check it out below!


Brian Hanlon Video

It is my hope that we will continue to develop salient and interactive content that will help our customers better connect with DOB and our services. In fact, if there are particular DOB processes or responsibilities that you would like to see a video on, please consider filling out this webform. We want to use our customers' feedback to inform our content as we work to develop it.

In this month's newsletter, I want to highlight our content on Building Safety Month. DOB's responsibility for regulating construction activity in the District begins with ensuring safety, and the agency continues to progress our efforts to make the District's built environment safer and more accessible.

I also would like to draw your attention to our Building For Tomorrow Today section; this month, our focus is on mass timber. Sustainable technologies like mass timber will be vital as we continue to drive DC towards Mayor Bowser's climate commitments of District carbon neutrality by 2045.

We are grateful to work in the greatest city in the world, and I continue to appreciate your commitment to holding us accountable to our responsibility. 


Director Hanlon Signature

Brian J. Hanlon, AIA LEED AP®

May 2024 Is Building Safety Month

Building Safety Month

Building Safety Month is an annual event that takes place each May, with the aim of raising awareness about the importance of building safety and the role it plays in protecting our communities. The event is organized by the International Code Council (ICC) and is supported by a number of other organizations from around the world. This year's theme is "Mission Possible."

Read DOB's New Piece On Illegal Construction

In theme, for our latest installment of Building Connections in Greater Greater Washington, Strategic Enforcement Administrator Keith Parsons and Chief Building Official Nicole Rogers wrote at length about illegal construction in the District and how DOB seeks to address it.

Mayor Bowser Proclaims May 2024 As Building Safety Month In The District

Mayor Bowser Proclamation

In recognition of this, Mayor Bowser has proclaimed May 2024 as Building Safety Month in the District in coordination with other local and state building departments across the nation.

Building safety is a critical issue that affects everyone, from homeowners to business owners to local government officials. It is essential that we all work together to ensure that our buildings are safe, secure, and up-to-date with the latest safety codes and regulations. This continual effort to promote safety in the District's built environment is at the core of DOB's work.

During Building Safety Month, a wide range of activities and events take place around the world. These include training sessions, seminars, webinars, and workshops, all designed to help educate individuals and organizations on the latest building safety practices and techniques.

Building Safety Month also serves as an opportunity to recognize and celebrate the work of building safety professionals. DOB has also taken time this month to recognize our staff and the individuals who play a critical role in ensuring that our District buildings are safe, secure, and up-to-date.

As we continue to face new challenges and uncertainties in the years ahead, it is more important than ever that we remain committed to building safety. By working together and staying informed, we can help to create a safer, more secure future for ourselves and our larger District community.

Ensure Your Building Is Safe For All Occupants


We would like to share some valuable tips and guidelines to help you ensure the safety of your building. Whether you are a homeowner, a business owner, or a property manager, these recommendations can assist you in creating a safe environment for everyone.

  • Conduct Regular Inspections: Regular inspections are vital to identify potential safety hazards. Hire a professional inspector to assess your building's structural integrity, electrical systems, fire safety measures, and any other critical aspects that may impact safety. For a list of approved District third-party agencies, please visit our website.
  • Implement Proper Signage: Clearly posted signs and labels can guide occupants and visitors during emergencies. Make sure that exit signs, directional signs, and safety warnings are visible and well-maintained.
  • Maintain Proper Fire Safety Measures: Fire safety is paramount for any building. Install and maintain smoke detectors, fire alarms, and fire extinguishers throughout the premises. Develop a clear emergency evacuation plan and educate occupants on evacuation procedures.
  • Ensure Adequate Lighting: Adequate lighting enhances visibility and minimizes accidents. Ensure that all common areas, staircases, hallways, and parking lots are well-lit. Regularly check and replace any burnt-out bulbs to maintain proper illumination.
  • Check Electrical Systems: Faulty electrical systems can lead to fires and electrocution hazards. Hire a qualified electrician to inspect and maintain your building's electrical systems periodically. Avoid overloading outlets and ensure that all wiring is up to code. 
  • Secure Handrails and Guardrails: Handrails and guardrails play a crucial role in preventing accidents, especially on staircases and elevated areas. Regularly inspect and tighten any loose handrails or guardrails to ensure stability.
  • Regularly Service Elevators and Escalators: If your building has elevators or escalators, regular maintenance and inspections are essential. Ensure that they are serviced by certified technicians to prevent malfunctions and accidents.
  • Stay Updated with Building Codes: Building codes and regulations are regularly updated to ensure safety standards are met. Stay informed about the latest codes and regulations relevant to your building. Engage professionals who are well-versed in building safety to help you navigate these requirements. For residential units, here is a handy list of the District's housing code standards.

DOB is dedicated to providing you with the tools and expertise to ensure your building's safety. By implementing these measures, you are taking significant steps to enhance the safety of your building and protect the well-being of its occupants. Remember, building safety is a collective responsibility that requires ongoing attention and action.

Building For Tomorrow Today | Mass Timber

Building For Tomorrow Today

Mass Timber

Mass timber is comprised of multiple solid wood panels nailed or glued together, which provide exceptional strength and stability. It is an innovative building material that offers a range of environmental and sustainability benefits that make it a compelling alternative to traditional construction materials.

Director Brian Hanlon and staff recently attended a presentation by the DC Code Officials Association (DCCOA) and Columbia Property Trust at 80 M Street SE, DC's first mass timber commercial building.

Mass Timber

80 M Street SE is the first mass commercial mass timber project in the District. The build brought three additional floors on top of a previously-built structure, allowing space to be reimagined.

1. Carbon Benefits and Reduced Emissions

One of the most significant advantages of mass timber is its ability to act as a carbon sink. Trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as they grow, storing carbon within. When these trees are harvested for mass timber, the carbon remains in the wood, effectively reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, sustainably managed forests can be replanted, creating a natural cycle of carbon absorption and storage that benefits the environment.

The production of mass timber also requires significantly less energy compared to conventional building materials, such as steel and concrete. Processing wood for mass timber panels involves fewer energy-intensive steps, leading to a net reduction in overall emissions. Additionally, the lighter weight of mass timber structures can reduce transportation emissions and lessen the need for extensive foundations.

2. Enhanced Building Efficiency and Waste Minimization

Mass timber buildings are known for their excellent thermal performance. Wood naturally insulates, which can lead to energy savings in heating and cooling buildings. This efficiency translates to lower operational energy use over the lifespan of the building, contributing to long-term sustainability.

3. Promoting Healthy Environments

Lastly, mass timber buildings offer benefits beyond environmental impact; they contribute to healthier living and working environments. The natural aesthetic of wood can enhance occupants' well-being, reduce stress, and improve indoor air quality by moderating humidity levels.

Mass timber represents a shift towards more sustainable construction practices. By embracing this versatile and eco-friendly material, the construction industry can significantly reduce its environmental impact, promote sustainable forestry, and create healthier and more efficient buildings for future generations.

Help Make The District A Better Place To Do Business

Small Business Census

Are you the owner of a small business headquartered in Washington, DC? We want to hear from you!

The Government of the District of Columbia is conducting a census of DC-headquartered small businesses to better understand who makes up our small business community and ensure that DC is a place where small business owners of all backgrounds can thrive.

The census asks questions about the business’s size, locations, and ownership demographics, and should only take a few minutes of business owners’ time. Business owners may receive a call or a visit from a member of the Small Business Census team between April and the end of the summer of 2024, and may participate in the census in English, Spanish, Amharic, French, Chinese, Vietnamese, or Korean.

For more information about the census, please visit

DOB's Alternative Resolution Team (ART) Has An Updated Webpage

Alternative Resolution Team

DOB's Alternative Resolution Team (ART) is tasked with negotiating settlements with customers to achieve case resolution without litigation. The ART is limited to settling Notices of Infraction (NOIs) and cannot settle Special Assessments.

DOB is the first District government agency to create/implement an ART. Our goal is to assist District residents in reducing their fines as a result of enforcement actions due to timely abatement. Instead of initial discussions first occurring in court, we offer our customers an opportunity to resolve the issues in advance. ART results are often just as good as contesting a fine in court, but without the added time and expense. ART administers two programs to assist customers: Deferred Enforcement and Alternative Resolution.

For more information about the ART, please visit

Building Blocks: Things To Remember

Building Blocks
  • Contact DOB via email at, through our online inquiry form or during normal business hours using the live chat available on or by phone at 202.671.3500, and we will get back to you in three business days or less.
  • DOB's updated Customer Service hours are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 8:30 am-4:30 pm and Thursday 9:30 am-4:30 pm.
  • If you want to report illegal construction, vacant property concerns, or property maintenance issues after hours, you can always report them via DC311. You can call 311 at any time day or night. You also can visit the online portal at
  • If you live in a residential zone and plan on doing work on your home, please reach out to DOB to ensure your proposed work is properly permitted under District law. This especially goes for those larger projects that you are considering. DOB wants to ensure that all involved parties are on the same page regarding District regulations to ensure safety for all.