State and Local Policy Database

Austin

City Scorecard Rank

6

Austin, TX

75.00Scored out of 100Updated 5/2017
Local Government Score:
8 out of 10 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 2007 local government goal to make city operations (including vehicle fleet) carbon-neutral by 2020. The city’s climate protection plans outlines strategies to reduce carbon emissions through different means and may focus on energy, fuel, water, or waste reduction initiatives or employee behavioral programs. Austin also has benchmarking and procurement and construction policies in place to increase efficiency.

Last updated: February 2017

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.

Stringency

In order to meet its local government greenhouse gas goal, Austin would need to reduce emissions by 7.7% per year.

Progress

Austin is not currently on track for its local government greenhouse gas goal. 

Reporting

Austin publicizes actions it takes on internal initiatives on its Sustainability Dashboard and on an Open Data platform, including emissions and energy data. Austin has also committed through the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy to produce a community GHG Inventory every three years using the Global Protocol for Community-Scale Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventories. 

Last updated: April 2017

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. Additionally, the city of Austin has a fuel conservation policy in place that promotes the purchase of fuel efficient vehicles, and makes electric/hybrid and alternative fueled vehicles a priority however it does not contain specific energy efficiency requirements. This city also uses AssetWorksFleetFocus M5 to monitor the use of its public fleet, nevertheless GPS technology has not been deployed yet.

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 59,000 Austin Energy-owned streetlights and made them Dark-Sky compliant. Austin Energy has also converted more than 15,400 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 to be built to 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: January 2017

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. 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 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. The city has also developed baseline sustainability standards that guide retrofit projects.

Public Employees

Austin has an internal human resources policy on teleworking that has been in place since 2000.

Last updated: January 2017

Community-Wide Initiatives
Score: 12 out of 12 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: April 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.

The City of Austin’s 2007 Climate Protection Resolution includes a goal to reduce 20% of greenhouse gas emissions from the city's electric utility from 2005 levels by 2020.

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 its greenhouse gas emissions goal.

Last updated: April 2017

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: April 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: April 2017

Buildings Policies
Score: 25.5 out of 28 points
Buildings Summary List All

Austin has several building sector initiatives to improve efficiency including adoption of the most current versions of the model energy codes and setting energy savings goals, green building requirements, and required energy rating and disclosure. The Development Services Department manages the building energy code compliance and enforcement for the City of Austin.

Austin has published energy reduction targets for buildings through the Austin Climate Protection Plan.

Last Updated: February 2017

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 use in all new buildings by 75%.  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 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: February 2017

Building Energy Code Enforcement and ComplianceList All

Austin does not have internal staff dedicated solely to energy code compliance. 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: January 2017

Requirements and Incentives for Efficient Buildings List All

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

Austin Energy provides incentives and rebates in conjunction with other city departments for energy-efficiency upgrades to homes or businesses, including low income weatherization work. Density bonuses are offered to both residential and commercial construction conforming to green standards.

Last Updated: January 2017

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.  

Residential

The 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.  Austin MLS, the multiple listing service serving the Austin region, includes fields for energy efficiency features of homes listed on the market.

Training and Guidance Provided by the City or State

Residential single-family housing- Austin provides annual education and outreach events for local real estate professionals (including realtors, real estate agents, lenders & title companies), local home performance companies and over 70 local registered energy auditors/professionals. Media materials and resources include the ECAD webpage, marketing & advertising materials and dedicated customer contact group supporting phone and email inquiries.  

Residential multifamily properties- Austin provides annual education and outreach events for local multifamily property owners and property management companies, local home performance companies and also local registered energy auditors/professionals.  Media materials and resources include website, marketing & advertising materials and dedicated customer contact group supporting phone and email inquiries. 

Commercial buildings- Austin provides annual education and outreach events for building owners, property management companies and third party energy professionals to support energy benchmarking and reporting every year.  Media materials and resources include website, marketing & advertising materials and dedicated customer contact group supporting phone and email inquiries.                          

Enforcement Strategy 

Non-compliance with ECAD is a Class C misdemeanor with fines from $500 to $2,000. Anyone may file violations with the City of Austin Municipal Courts for review and action.

Energy Use Disclosure 

Residential single-family housing is defined as properties with 1-4 dwelling units (includes duplex, tri and four-plexes). The ECAD Ordinance requires the properties over 10 years old or at the end of the year they turn 10 years old to be audited before the time of sale. Audits must be conducted by a qualified ECAD Energy Professional, and owners have to disclose home’s energy efficiency as part of the real estate transaction.

Residential multifamily properties with five or more units are required to complete an energy audit of the residential units. These audits must be done the year the property turns 10 years old, with new audits conducted every 10 years after. The Energy Audit results must be disclosed to current and prospective tenants. 

Commercial buildings, larger than 10,000 square feet, are required to benchmark and report their energy use rating every year. At least 12 months of energy data and some basic information about buildings are needed before reporting. Annual energy benchmarking reporting should be completed by June 1st and submitted to the City of Austin by July 1st. First-time compliance requirements phased in over a three-year period from 2012 to 2014. The owner of a commercial facility must make this information available to a prospective purchaser of the facility before the time of sale.

Reports and Database

The ECAD ordinance has a comprehensive data management system tracking annual compliance for each market.  Annual reports have been provided since 2009.                                                                                                                                                            

Last Updated: January 2017

Energy & Water Utilities
Score: 12 out of 20 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 Service, 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: January 2017

Electric & Gas Energy Efficiency Programs, Spending & SavingsList All

In 2015, Austin Energy reported 124,142 MWh in net electric savings at the meter, which represents 0.97% of its retail sales. Austin Energy also reported $24,854,329 in electric efficiency spending in 2015, representing 2.06% of its annual revenue. In 2015, Texas Gas Service did not collect data on or report natural gas savings resulting from their energy efficiency programs. Texas Gas service did report their gas efficiency spending of $3,068,082, which normalizes to $5.06 per residential customer. Spending on electricity and natural gas efficiency 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. In addition, other City Departments including Austin Water, Neighborhood Housing and several not for profit organizations partner with Austin Energy to provide energy efficiency products and services to our community. The Climate Protection Plan reinforces the partnerships among City Departments by establishing shared goals.

Last Updated: January 2017

Low-Income & Multifamily EE Programs List All

Low-Income Programs

Austin Energy offers a portfolio of low-income efficiency programs to its low-income residential customers, including weatherization assistance, AC rebate and loans, AC tune ups, direct install, and multifamily weatherization assistance program rebates. The weatherization program provides energy efficiency measures such as air infiltration reduction, attic insulation, solar screens, health and safety devices (e.g., smoke and carbon monoxide detectors), water conservation devices, LED lighting, duct system repairs and replacements, and air conditioning tune-ups. Austin Energy works in collaboration with the City of Austin Neighborhood Housing Program, the Green and Healthy Home Initiative, and with local housing repair coalition nonprofits in a referral network. This network provides structural and roofing repairs to low-income customers, and Austin Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program provides the weatherization components. Austin Energy streamlines its eligibility requirements to make it easier for customers to enroll, and it targets high energy users and elderly customers for its low-income programs. For its weatherization program, Austin Energy partners with community nonprofits such as Family Eldercare and with other city departments such as the Austin Fire Department. In 2015, according to Austin Energy, it achieved 568 MWh in energy savings from its low-income programs, while spending $2,125,667 on its low-income efficiency portfolio. These programs served 520 low-income customers, with each household receiving an average of $4,087 and saving an average of 1,092 kWh.

Texas Gas Service provides a Free Natural Gas Equipment Weatherization Program for low-income customers. This program provides a number of free services for customers on fixed or moderate incomes, as well as for the elderly and those with disabilities. Services include free installation of new and replacement wall and central furnaces, natural gas water heaters, and ranges. In 2015, according to Texas Gas Service, it spent $278,805 on its low-income efficiency portfolio, and served 134 low-income customers, with each household receiving an average of $2,081.

Multifamily Programs

Austin Energy offers the Power Saver Program for multifamily properties. This comprehensive program offers no-cost direct install of cycle-saver water heater timers, as well as rebates for energy saving heat pump water heaters, ceiling insulation, duct improvement, solar shading, window replacement, cool roofs, lighting, HVACs, and solar water heaters. Eligibility is determined through an on-site energy audit. At this time, Texas Gas Service does not offer energy efficiency programs targeted at multifamily properties.

Last Updated: June 2017

Provision of Energy Data by UtilitiesList All

Austin Energy provides daily and monthly energy use data to customers through a custom software that includes a Green Button formatted download. To assist large building managers with accessing aggregated energy data for building benchmarking, Austin Energy offers the Load Profiler system. This system allows buildings with advanced meters to access 15 minute load data online. Austin Energy is municipally-owned and shares most of its data through the Austin Open Data Portal, with aggregated data for community planning available on the portal. 

Austin Energy does not provide automated benchmarking services for use with Energy Star Portfolio Manager for multi-tenant commercial and multifamily buildings. However, Austin Energy has developed an Energy Usage Index that it shares with commercial and multifamily property owners. 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: January 2017

Efficiency Efforts in Water ServicesList All

Water Efficiency

Austin Water partners with Austin Energy and Texas Gas Service’s weatherization assistance programs to provide low and moderate-income customers with water and energy efficient fixtures and plumbing repairs. In 2014, Austin’s city council adopted a goal to reduce total water use to 138 gallons per capita per day and residential water use to 85 gallons per capita per day by 2024. This is an advancement of their 2007 and 2010 water saving goals. Austin Water’s multi-faceted conservation program coupled with a strong response by Austin residents has the utility on track to meet or exceed those goals. Austin implements tiered water pricing and also 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 include rainwater harvesting and 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 kilowatt-hours consumed per million gallons (kWh/MG) per year until 2020. Operational optimization and capital improvements both contribute to regularly meeting these goals. Collectively, the water treatment and distribution system recorded its highest efficiency (lowest kWh/MG) in almost 10 years in July 2016. The Hornsby Bend Biosolids Management Plant recently upgraded an old combined heat and power (CHP) facility. Since March 2013, this new facility 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 a 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: January 2017

Transportation
Score: 17.5 out of 30 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: January 2017

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 has removed minimum parking requirements for certain zoning districts (e.g. Central Business District). 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: January 2017

Mode Shift List All

Modal Share Targets

To promote a modal shift in transportation, Austin has set goal to reduce drive alone trips by 10% and increase commuter bicycle mode to 15% by the year 2020.

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.

Complete Streets

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. 

Last updated: January 2017

Transit List All

The CapMetro transit system that serves Austin has received $213,289,340 in average annual funding from 2011-2015. This funding level is $106.60 per resident in the service territory of the agency, putting it in the fourth highest category ($100-149) available in the City Scorecard. This results in a ratio of per capita regional transit funding to per capita city highway and parking funding of 1.50 to 1.

The Transit Connectivity Index measures transit service levels. It is based on the number of bus routes and train stations within walking distance for households scaled by frequency of service. The City of Austin’s Transit Connectivity Index value is 10, putting it in the fourth highest category (5-14) available in the City Scorecard.

Last updated: January 2017

Efficient VehiclesList All

At this time, the City of Austin does not offer incentives for citizens to purchase hybrid, plug-in, or EV vehicles. However, Austin Energy offers a rebate for electric vehicle charging stations installed at homes, businesses, multifamily properties and auto dealers. Austin Energy also owns 162 charging stations available for public use. 

Last updated: January 2017

Freight List All

Sustainable freight plan

Austin does not have a sustainable freight transportation plan in place nor does it have any policies that address freight efficiency.

Smart freight

Austin employs the Transfix freight application to increase freight efficiency.

Last updated: January 2017

Sustainable Transportation Planning List All

The city of Austin has three plans that outline sustainable transportation strategies, including the Imagine Austin Plan, the Urban Trails Master Plan and the Austin Climate Plan. The city’s climate plan encourages an integrated, expanded, and affordable transportation system that supports a variety of modal options. We did not find information on specific greenhouse gas or VMT reduction goals.

Last updated: January 2017

Low-Income in Transit-Oriented Development Areas List All

Austin requires and offers incentives in the form of density bonuses in Transit Oriented Developments.

Last updated: January 2017