In February 2007, the city council passed the Austin Climate Protection Plan, calling for the drafting of new building codes consistent with reducing energy used in single-family homes by 65% and all other public and private buildings by 75% by 2015 (see Resolution No. 20070215-23). Accordingly, the Zero-Energy Capable Homes (ZECH) Task Force was designated to draft recommendations and progressively-increasing goals for the program. Furthermore, an Energy Efficiency Retrofits (EER) Task Force was created in December 2007 to examine strategies for reducing energy use in existing buildings (see Resolution No. 20071213-64), and the City Council adopted recommendations in November 2008 (Resolution No. 20081106-048). The Resolution sets a series of energy efficiency improvement goals for the city's existing residential and commercial buildings.
The most recent building code updates occurred in June 2013, when the City Council adopted the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code with local amendments (see Ordinance No. 20130606-091). Among the amendments are enhanced requirements for energy efficiency measures in new construction.
More information on Austin building codes can be found here.
Energy Conservation Audit and Disclosure Requirements
Resolution No. 20081106-047 established energy conservation audit and disclosure requirements for residential, commercial, and multifamily residential buildings in Austin. For residential buildings more than 10 years old, audits must be completed prior to any sale and the results disclosed to prospective purchasers. For commercial and multifamily buildings, any building more than 10 years old as of June 1, 2009, must have an audit performed by June 1, 2011. For other buildings, this must be completed within 10 years after the facility was constructed.
Austin Energy Green Building Program
In 1990, the City of Austin created the first green building program in the U.S. The Austin Energy Green Building (AEGB) program encourages Central Texans to design and construct more sustainable homes and buildings by creating a rating system.
The AEGB Rating is made up of a series of Basic Requirements required for all rated projects and voluntary additional categories containing measures that can be achieved to attain points for a higher rating. A building that meets only the Basic Requirements receives a 1-Star Rating, and a building that completes additional voluntary measures can earn up to a 5-Star Rating. In terms of energy efficiency, rated buildings are designed to exceed the Austin Energy Code, which itself is one of the most aggressive in the nation.
Austin Energy Green Building rates the sustainability of new and remodeled buildings for three markets: single family, multifamily, and commercial.
Single Family Rating
To meet Basic Requirements, new homes must demonstrate a minimum level of energy efficiency by either achieving a minimum International Code Compliance Calculator score of 0.0 or a minimum Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index Score of 70 (i.e., 30% more efficient than a standard new home).
Increasing attic insulation or improving roof solar reflectance are examples of energy efficiency measures that can be used to obtain a higher rating.
To meet Basic Requirements, an owner of a new multifamily residential building has three options. The first option is to comply with a detailed list of energy efficiency measures set forth in this document.
The second option is to demonstrate that the building has a 4% improvement in energy performance compared to a baseline building that complies with ASHRAE 90.1-2010 Appendix G (with Austin Amendments). Furthermore, the building must meet the prescriptive code requirements of the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code, Chapter 4.
The third option is to demonstrate a minimum of a 4% improvement in the energy performance of the building compared to a baseline building that complies with 2012 International Energy Conservation Code, Section R405 residential standard reference design (with Austin Amendments). Furthermore, the building must meet the prescriptive code requirements of the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code, Chapter 4.
The Commercial rating includes a series of Basic Requirements (required for all AEGB rated projects) and voluntary measures. Projects that meet only the Basic Requirements earn a 1-Star Rating; completing voluntary measures can result in a building’s rating improving up to a 5-Star Rating.
The fulfill the Basic Requirement with respect to energy efficiency, a building must meet the requirements of the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code, Section C406.2, Efficient HVAC performance. Additionally, the building must be registered with ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, a tool used to track building energy use metrics. Finally, the building must either exceed the current Austin Energy Code requirement for building interior lighting by 15% or demonstrate a 4% improvement in the energy performance of the proposed building compared to a baseline building that complies with the current Austin Energy Code.