State and Local Policy Database

Austin

City Scorecard Rank

9

Austin, TX

62.50Scored out of 100Updated 5/2015
Local Government Operations
Score: 10.5 out of 15 points
Local Government Summary List All

Austin’s Climate Program works with city departments to develop customized climate protection plans and implement strategies to achieve Austin’s overall local government goal. Departments’ climate protection plans reduce carbon emissions through different means and may focus on energy, fuel, water, or waste reduction initiatives or employee behavioral programs. 

Last updated: December 2014

Local Government Energy Efficiency Goals List All

The Austin City Council passed Resolution No. 20070215-023 in 2007 to formally adopt a goal to make the city operations carbon-neutral by 2020. Austin requires all departments to develop and implement climate action plans. All departments have performance measures related to their departmental carbon footprint. In accordance the City of Austin Administrative Bulletin 05-01, all city departments and agencies must develop departmental energy efficiency plans.

According to data in Austin’s Climate Energy Plan, the city reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 18% between 2007 and 2010. The city is not currently on track for its local government goal. 

Last updated: February 2015

Performance Management Strategies List All

We could not confirm if Austin has a dedicated funding source or budgeting mechanism for local government efficiency investments.

Austin annually reports its greenhouse gas emissions to the Climate Registry, an independent verification entity. The city also publicizes actions it takes on internal initiatives on its webpage, provides updates to city council, and creates marketing pieces. 

Select staff at Austin Energy are dedicated to energy efficiency efforts within local government operations, but we could not confirm the number of full-time staff that work in the Office of Sustainability. We could not confirm if Austin offers financial or non-financial incentives for energy efficiency actions to departments or individual staff.

Last updated: February 2015

Procurement and Construction List All

Vehicle Fleets and Infrastructure

Resolution No. 20070215-023 establishes a goal for Austin’s fleet to be carbon-neutral by 2020 through the use of vehicles run on electricity and non-petroleum fuels. In addition, the city trains its employees on efficient driving behavior. Austin has a local government and community-wide anti-idling ordinance and the city strives to downsize its fleet and through motorpools and vehicle sharing, including access to the City Car2Go network. 

Note: For local fleet initiatives, policies listed must make a specific, mandatory requirement for increasing fleet efficiency. Local alternative-fuel vehicle procurement requirements that give a voluntary option to count efficient vehicles are thus not included.

Public Lighting

Austin Energy has automated all of its 56,000 Austin Energy-owned streetlights and made them Dark-Sky compliant. Austin Energy has also converted more than 13,000 of its streetlights to LEDs. It is unclear if Austin has adopted a policy requiring efficient outdoor lighting, such as the International Dark-Sky Association’s Model Lighting Ordinance or a similar policy. 

New Buildings and Equipment

The city council passed Resolution No. 000608-43 in June 2000 requiring that all future public building projects of more than $2 million be built to the LEED Silver standards. The resolution required the city manager to evaluate the feasibility of requiring that buildings maintained, leased, or financed by the city be operated and maintained in a way that improves indoor air quality and energy conservation. The city council passed Resolution No. 20071129-045 in 2007, which built upon the June 2000 resolution. In addition to achieving LEED Silver standards in new public buildings and major renovations, buildings must achieve the highest optimal levels of sustainability. As part of this requirement, a number of measures in buildings must be considered, including energy-use monitoring and the reduction of building energy use in accordance with City of Austin Administrative Bulletin 05-01 (Designation of Energy Manager and Establishment of Energy Efficiency Policy). Also, the city must purchase or lease ENERGY STAR office equipment if available, in accordance with City of Austin Administrative Bulletin 05-01. 

Last updated: February 2015

Asset Management List All

Building Benchmarking and Retrofitting

In November 2008, the city council approved the Energy Conservation Audit and Disclosure Ordinance (Ordinance 20081106-047). It requires building energy rating and disclosure for nonresidential facilities and applies to municipal buildings. In 2011, the 25 largest city-owned buildings complied with the ordinance by rating the buildings in EPA Portfolio Manager. These buildings totaled 3.8 million square feet of real estate, which is 73% of the total square footage owned by the city. By 2014, 8.7 million square feet of city buildings were benchmarked, which is 97% of the total square footage owned by the city. The City of Austin Administrative Bulletin 05-01 set a comprehensive retrofit policy for the city's buildings. City departments are responsible for identifying and assisting the energy manager, Austin Energy, to identify cost-effective retrofit projects in the department’s facilities and processes. Department management also must assure adequate funds are budgeted and available for the implementation of cost-effective retrofit projects. Commissioning has been completed at the city’s 14 largest buildings. 

Sustainable Infrastructure Policies

The city is incorporating sustainability into its capital planning process, but this is new and has not been formalized across all city operations. 

Public Employees

Austin has an internal human resources policy on teleworking that has been in place since 2000 and the city offers its employees free bus passes.

Last updated: February 2015

Community-Wide Initiatives
Score: 8 out of 10 points
Community-Wide Summary List All

The Climate Program in the Austin Office of Sustainability maintains greenhouse gas inventories, develops reduction targets, and leads community-wide implementation strategies. The Office of Sustainability also directs the Austin Green Business Leaders program which provides resources for and recognition to businesses that save energy.

Last updated: January 2017

Community-Wide Energy Efficiency GoalsList All

The City Council formally adopted the 2015 Austin Community Climate Plan (ACCP) to establish a citywide net zero greenhouse gas emissions goal by 2050 including interim targets of a 25% emissions reduction by 2020, a 49% reduction by 2030, and a 70% reduction by 2040. The plan uses a 2010 emissions baseline and allows for up to 10% of carbon offsets for all targets.

Austin Energy’s Energy Resource, Generation, and Climate Protection Plan to 2025: An Update of the 2020 Plan articulated the city’s community-wide goal to achieve 900 MW of savings through energy efficiency and conservation by 2025 based.

The Office of Sustainability releases greenhouse gas emissions data on its website in annual progress reports and triannual inventories. Austin Energy releases an annual Consumer Electric Services report to report on energy savings progress. The city is currently on track to achieve both its greenhouse gas and energy savings goals.

Last updated: January 2017

Performance Management StrategiesList All

Austin Energy releases annual reports on progress toward a number of the city's energy initiatives, including its community-wide energy efficiency peak demand savings goal. Austin reports its GHG emissions to the Climate Registry, which requires backup materials to verify communitywide emissions data. Programs to meet efficiency targets are run through Austin Energy's Distributed Energy Services. Austin also has more than 60 staff members dedicated to sustainability initiatives. We could not confirm if Austin has a dedicated funding source or budgeting mechanism for community-wide energy management or efficiency investments.

Last updated: February 2015

Efficient Distributed Energy Systems - District Energy and Combined Heat and PowerList All

Austin targets redevelopment zones for district energy systems. The two latest systems are in the Domain and Mueller Airport redevelopment areas. Since Austin Energy is municipally owned, the city has helped plan and build all district energy systems in Austin.

Last updated: January 2017

Mitigation of Urban Heat Islands List All

The city has established individual urban tree canopy cover goals for each neighborhood throughout the city. The city is targeting tree planting projects using these targets.

In Austin, development bonuses are available for private development projects that incorporate green roofs into new projects or that permanently preserve open space. Austin also adopted the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code which requires cool roofs on buildings. Exceptions to this requirement are granted for buildings with vegetative roofs, roof top pools, or permanently integrated solar panels on a roof surface. The city’s tree ordinance protects trees on private land designated as heritage trees and trees with a substantial diameter at breast height.

Last updated: January 2017

Buildings Policies
Score: 21.5 out of 29 points
Buildings Summary List All

Austin has several building sector initiatives to improve efficiency including a “stretch” energy code, energy savings goals, green building requirements, and required energy rating and disclosure. The Planning and Development Review manages the building energy code compliance and enforcement for the City of Austin.

Last Updated: Decmeber 2014

Stringency of Energy CodesList All

The State of Texas allows its local jurisdictions to adopt building energy codes more stringent than the Texas Building Energy Code. The minimum state standard for single-family residential construction must comply with the 2015 International Residential Code (IRC). All other residential and commercial building construction must comply with the 2015 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). State-funded building construction must comply with ASHRAE 90.1-2013. To learn more about the building energy code requirements for the State of Texas, please visit the State Policy Database.

Commercial

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 public and private buildings by 75% by 2015.  The 2015 City of Austin Energy Code is based on the 2015 IECC with amendments according to program targets. It took effect in September 2016. The city council adopted Resolution No. 20081106-048 in November 2008 setting a series of energy efficiency improvement goals for the city's existing residential and commercial buildings.

Residential

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% by 2015. The 2015 Austin Energy Code is based on the 2015 IECC with amendments according to program targets. It took effect in September 2016.

Last Updated: January 2017

Building Energy Code Enforcement and ComplianceList All

Austin reported a budget of $11,729,533 for the building code department in 2013. This level of spending normalizes to $9.34 per $1,000 of residential construction spending for the city. Austin requires participation in third-party plan review and performance testing to verify compliance with energy codes. Additionally, Austin requires that all Development Review Department residential inspectors are energy-code certified. The Austin Energy Green Building Program provides upfront support for code compliance through technical assistance for all developers and builders .

Last Updated: March 2015

Requirements and Incentives for Efficient Buildings List All

Building Energy Savings Goals

Austin has not yet published an energy-intensity reduction target for its private buildings.

Green Building Requirements

Austin’s above-code green building requirements apply to new private buildings in defined areas of the city. Requirements vary, but all include a level of attainment in LEED or the Austin Energy Green Building Program. The requirements apply to both commercial and residential properties.

Energy Audit and Retrofit Requirements

Austin’s Energy Conservation Audit and Disclosure Ordinance requires all homes and multifamily buildings of more than five units which are ten years and older to have an energy audit performed at the time of sale, with the results disclosed to perspective buyers. An energy reduction is required from high energy consuming multifamily buildings.

Incentives and Financing for Efficient Buildings

Density bonuses are offered to both residential and commercial construction conforming to green standards. Incentives are offered through Austin Energy in conjunction with other city departments for low income weatherization work and energy efficiency improvements for small businesses.

Last Updated: December 2014

Benchmarking, Rating, & Transparency List All

Commercial

Austin's Energy Conservation and Audit Disclosure Ordinance (ECAD) requires commercial buildings to obtain ENERGY STAR ratings and disclose ratings to prospective buyers starting in 2012. This ordinance was adopted in November 2008 and was implemented in June 2009. Compliance deadlines began June 2012. Building owners who do not comply must face fines. There are resources available for building owners to help with compliance.

Residential

Austin's Energy Conservation and Audit Disclosure Ordinance (ECAD) requires audits of single-family homes prior to a sale and audits of large multifamily buildings. This ordinance was adopted in November 2008 and was implemented in June 2009. There are resources available for building owners to help with compliance. Austin MLS, the multiple listing service serving the Austin region, includes fields for energy efficiency features of homes listed on the market.

Last Updated: March 2015

Comprehensive Efficiency Services List All

Austin Energy's Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program, is available to Austin residents. Austin Energy offers the Multifamily Rebate Program, a performance-based energy efficiency initiative targeting multifamily properties in need of comprehensive improvements. 

Last Updated: December 2014

Energy & Water Utilities
Score: 10 out of 18 points
Energy & Water Utilities Summary List All

Austin Energy, a municipally-operated utility, is the primary electric utility for the City of Austin. Texas Gas, an investor-owned utility (IOU), is Austin’s primary natural gas utility. The State of Texas requires its investor-owned electric utilities to offset load-growth through end-use energy efficiency, mandated through an EERS. The IOUs must also submit their energy savings goals to the Public Utility Commission of Texas. The municipally-run utilities must set their own efficiency targets. To learn more about the state-requirements for electric and gas efficiency, please visit the Texas page of the State Database.

Austin Water, a municipally-operated utility provides drinking water, treats wastewater, and manages stormwater for the City of Austin. In Austin, each entity runs its own rate-payer funded efficiency programs.

Last Updated: December 2014

Electric & Gas Energy Efficiency Programs, Spending & SavingsList All

According to EIA, in 2012, Austin Energy spent $20,483,000 on electric efficiency programs, representing 1.87% of its annual revenue. Due to these programs, Austin Energy reported a net incremental electricity savings of 117,172MWh, representing .80% of its retail sales. In 2013, Texas Gas spent $2,352,700 on natural gas efficiency programs according to the 2013 Texas Gas Service Conservation Program Annual Report. The expenditures normalize to $3.94 per residential customer. Data on natural gas savings resulting from these programs is not available. Spending on electricity and natural gas represented in this section covers the entire Texas service territory, not just Austin. Austin Energy offers electric efficiency incentives and technical assistance to residential and commercial/industrial customers. Texas Gas similarly offers natural gas efficiency programs to residential customers.

Texas Gas Service and Austin Energy have collaborated for over a decade to provide assistance to city residents who need energy efficiency improvements and energy-savings appliances. Texas Gas Service receives referrals from Austin Energy for shared customers who may need natural gas furnace, range, or water heater replacements.

Last Updated: February 2015

Energy Efficiency Targets & Funding Agreements List All

Austin Energy is not subject to the state target, so has its own goal to save 800MW by 2020 and to reduce CO2 emissions to a level 20% below a 2005 baseline, also by 2020. This goal also includes a cost cap of 1% annual sales (approx. 640,000MWh) and a capacity factor to convert demand reduction to energy savings. As a municipal utility, Austin Energy advocates and spends due to resolutions from city council.

Last Updated: December 2014

Provision of Energy Data by UtilitiesList All

In order for customers to access their own energy data, Austin Energy provides all customers with software similar to the Green Button. To assist large building managers with accessing aggregated energy data for building benchmarking, Austin Energy offers the Load Profiler system when a business purchases an advanced meter, to access 15 minute load data on the website. Austin Energy does not provide community aggregated data for community planning and evaluation. Austin Energy signed on with the City of Austin to partner on the Department of Energy's Better Buildings Initiative, Energy Data Accelerator, to facilitate better access to energy usage data. 

Last Updated: December 2014

Efficiency Efforts in Water ServicesList All

Water Efficiency

Austin Water, through successful conservation efforts, has reduced its total gallons per capita per day water use by 22% since 2006. In May 2010, Austin's city council adopted a goal of reducing total water use to 140 gallons per capita per day by the year 2020. Austin offers rebates for residential customers such as WaterWise landscaping, rainwater harvesting, free shower heads, and other products and actions. There are also rebates available for businesses from rainwater harvesting to commercial process rebates.

Energy Efficiency and Self-Generation

Austin Water tracks its energy efficiency at the facility, process, and system levels with a goal of 3% reduction in kWh/MG per year until 2020. A new treatment plant opening in Fall 2014 is expected to reduce systemwide energy use by over 10% and the plant itself is planned to be LEED Silver–certified.  The Hornsby Bend Biosolids Management Plant recently upgraded an old CHP facility and, since March 2013, has been generating 100% of its heat and electricity demand through combustion of the ~700,000 cubic feet per day of biogas produced onsite through anaerobic digestion of sewage sludge.

Green Stormwater Infrastructure

The City of Austin has undertaken a multi-pronged initiative to encourage the use of Low Impact Development (LID) practices and Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) in new public and private development and in re-development.  This includes  changes to city regulatory policies to lessen or remove barriers to or to otherwise encourage the use of LID practices and GSI, educational outreach on LID and GSI, demonstration projects at public facilities, and the installation of GSI controls on city street projects.  The city is also investigating the degree to which distributed GSI controls can be used to alleviate or mitigate localized flooding in urbanized areas that is caused by inadequate storm drain capacity.

Last Updated: December 2014

Transportation
Score: 12.5 out of 28 points
Transportation Summary List All

The transportation authority serving the city of Austin is The Capital Metropolitan Transit Authority, a state agency. CapMetro also provides the public transportation for the city and the broader metropolitan area, including bus, and light rail service. The Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization is the MPO in charge of conducting metropolitan transportation planning. Its area of jurisdiction encompasses Bastrop, Burnet, Caldwell, Hays, Travis, and Williamson Counties. The Austin Transportation Department is the city agency charged with managing the city’s transportation network.

Last updated: December 2014

Location Efficiency List All

Subchapter E of Austin’s zoning code adopted in 2009 includes form-based code elements to ensure street connectivity and mixed-use development in certain neighborhoods. The city still uses traditional minimum parking requirements across the city. Austin adopted its complete streets policy in 2002, through Resolution No. 020418-40. The adoption of the policy requires the inclusion of pedestrian and bike lanes during construction and reconstruction of city streets, if they add less than 20% more paved surface area. As an incentive to promote location-efficient real estate development, Austin’s Safe, Mixed-Income, Accessible, Reasonably Priced, Transit-Oriented (SMART) housing program provides fee waivers, expedited review, and support to projects that provide certain levels of affordable housing and are transit-accessible.

Last updated: December 2014

Mode Shift List All

Transportation and Land Use Planning

Austin has not yet written or implemented a policy to encourage improved integration of transportation and land use planning such as a VMT reduction or mode share target.

Car and Bicycle Sharing

There are two car sharing programs currently available to the residents and visitors of Austin, Car2go, and zipcar. The city is served by a bikesharing program, Austin B-cycle, with 40 operable stations.

Transportation Demand Management Programs

Austin is a financial partner with two transportation demand management programs that are working to reduce the number of single occupancy vehicle trips or trips during rush hour: Movability Austin, and Commute Solution. Movability Austin is a Transportation Management Association (TMA). Movability was formed as a collaboration of public and private sector employers, property owners, and other users to improve mobility of downtown Austin and the roads and corridors that lead to it. Commute Solutions is a one stop shop for commuters in the Austin area. They can help you find a carpool buddy, plan a transit trip, map out a bike route. 

Last updated: December 2014

Transit List All

The CapMetro transit system that serves Austin received $207,341,941 in total funding in 2012. This funding level is $203 per resident in the service territory of the agency. In comparison, 2011 spending on roads and parking by the city was $109,917,827, or $127.16 per city resident.  This results in a ratio of per capita regional transit funding to per capita city highway and parking funding of 1.59 to 1.

The Transit Connectivity Index measures how many transit rides are available per week within walking distance from the average household. The City of Austin’s Transit Connectivity Index value is 12,136, putting it in a high mid-range category (10,000 - 20,000) available in the City Scorecard.

Last updated: December 2014

Efficient Vehicles and Driver Behavior List All

At this time, the City of Austin does not offer incentives for citizens to purchase hybrid, plug-in, or EV vehicles. Austin Energy offers a rebate for home electric vehicle charging stations, 50% of the cost of the station, up to $1500. Austin Energy also owns 201 charging stations available for public use. 

Austin’s anti-idling code prohibits heavy-duty vehicles to 5 minutes. 

Last updated: February 2015

Freight List All

There are four intermodal freight facilities within the City of Austin’s boundaries, three of which we classify as efficient because they are port- or rail-capable.  Austin’s share of regional freight traffic in 2011, normalized by population, is 12,206 ton-miles.  As a result there are 0.249 efficient intermodal facilities per thousand ton-miles of freight traffic, putting the city in the second lowest category for this metric (>0 to 0.499) available in the City Scorecard.

Last updated: December 2014