In this study, 12 bound complexes were selected to construct a database for testing 15 dispersion-improved exchange-correlation (XC) functionals, including hybrid generalized gradient approximation (GGA), modified using the Grimme's pairwise strategy, and double hybrid XC functionals, for specifically characterizing the CO2 binding by alcoholamines. Bound complexes were selected based on the characteristics of their hydrogen bonds, dispersion, and electrostatic (particularly between the positive charge of CO2 and the lone pair of N of alcoholamines) interactions. The extrapolated binding energy from the aug-cc-pVTZ (ATZ) to aug-cc-pVQZ (AQZ) basis set at the CCSD(T)/CBS(MP2+DZ) level was used as the reference for the XC functional comparison. M06-2X produced the optimal agreement if the optimized geometries at MP2/ATZ level were chosen for all the test bound complexes. However, M06-L, ωB97X, and ωB97, and were preferred if the corresponding density functional theory (DFT) optimized geometries were adapted for the benchmark. Simple bimolecular reaction between CO2 and monoethanolamine simulated using polarizable continuum solvation model confirmed that ωB97, ωB97X, and ωB97XD qualitatively reproduced the energetics of MP2 level. The inconsistent performance of the tested XC functionals, observed when using MP2 or DFT optimized geometries, raised concerns regarding using the single-point ab initio correction combined with DFT optimized geometry, particularly for determining the nucleophilic attack by alcoholamines to CO2. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.