State and Local Policy Database

Austin

City Scorecard Rank

9

Austin, TX

63.00Scored out of 100Updated 8/2019
Local Government Score:
7.5 out of 9 points
Local Government Climate and Energy Goals List All

In 2007, the Austin City Council approved Resolution No. 20070215-023, which formally established climate and energy goals for the City of Austin’s operations.

Climate Mitigation Goal

The Resolution committed the City of Austin to achieve carbon-neutral municipal operations by 2020. To meet this goal, Austin must reduce per capita emissions 7.69% annually. The city is on track to meet its climate mitigation goals. Austin releases data on greenhouse gas emissions on its sustainability dashboard.

Energy Reduction Goal

The City set a goal to reduce energy consumption in buildings 5% each year through 2020. Progress towards the goal is published on the city’s sustainability dashboard.

Renewable Energy Goal

Austin has used renewable energy to power 100% of municipal operations since 2011.

Last updated: March 2020

Procurement and Construction List All

Fleet Policies and Composition

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. Austin has a plan for fleet electrification, which was driven by Resolution No. 20160505-025. Austin’s fleet is composed of 8.9% efficient vehicles, including hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery electric. 

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 approximately 26% of its streetlights to LEDs. Austin requires all exterior lighting to comply with above-code standards, including the International Dark Sky Association’s Model Lighting Ordinance (MLO). 

Onsite renewable systems 

Austin has over 50 on-site municipal solar projects totaling over 14 MW of installed renewable generation capacity.

Inclusive procurement 

The city’s Small & Minority Business Resources Department administers the Minority- Owned, Women-Owned, and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Procurement Programs for the City of Austin.  SMBR also provides developmental opportunities and resources for small (for-profit) businesses so that they can have affirmative access to City procurement opportunities and show productive growth.  This includes any renewable energy or energy efficient contracts.

Last updated: March 2020

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. Austin benchmarks municipal buildings through ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. 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 Workforce Commuting

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

Last updated: June 2019

Community-Wide Initiatives
Score: 10 out of 16 points
Community-Wide Summary List All

The City Council formally adopted the 2015 Austin Community Climate Plan (ACCP) to guide the city towards carbon neutrality.

Last updated: March 2020

Community-Wide Climate Mitigation and Energy GoalsList All

Climate Mitigation Goal

The ACCP established a citywide 2050 net zero greenhouse gas emissions goal 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% carbon offsets for all targets. ACEEE projects the city will achieve its community-wide GHG emissions reduction goal. 

Energy Reduction Goal

We did not find information regarding a community-wide energy reduction goal for the city.

Renewable Energy Goal

Austin Energy’s Resource, Generation and Climate Protection Plan to 2027 established goals to procure at least 55% of customer consumption from renewable energy resources by 2025 and commit to 65% by the end of 2027. This plan would increase installed solar capacity to 950 MW, with 200 MW of local solar.

Energy Data Reporting

Austin Energy’s annual corporate reports include community-wide electricity consumption data.

Last updated: March 2020

Equity-Driven Approaches to Clean Energy Planning, Implementation, and EvaluationList All

Equity-Driven Community Engagement

We were unable to determine whether permanent city staff have taken a unique and expanded approach in conducting outreach for multiple clean energy initiatives to marginalized groups compared with outreach to other city constituencies.

Equity-Driven Decision-Making

We were unable to determine if the city has created a formal role for marginalized community residents or local organizations representing those communities to participate in decision-making that affects the creation or implementation of a local energy, sustainability, or climate action plan.

Accountability to Equity

We were unable to determine whether the city has adopted specific goals, metrics, or protocols to track how multiple energy, sustainability, or climate action initiatives are affecting local marginalized groups.

Austin has a citywide focus on equity with the establishment of its Equity Office, including metrics focusing on social equity outcomes, but none are tied specifically to energy efficiency or climate action. 

Last updated: March 2020

Clean Distributed Energy SystemsList All

Austin Energy operates the Downtown Central Business Cooling Plant and Mueller Redevelopment Cooling, Heating, and Power Plant. In 2014, the utility integrated an energy storage system into the plant. Austin Energy also offers residential customers the option to enroll in a community solar program.

Last updated: March 2020

Mitigation of Urban Heat Islands List All

We could not verify if the city has adopted an urban heat island mitigation goal.

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 that requires cool roofs on buildings. Buildings with vegetative roofs, roof top pools, or permanently integrated solar panels on a roof surface are exempt from this requirement. 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: March 2020

Buildings Policies
Score: 21 out of 30 points
Buildings Summary List All

The City of Austin has adopted several initiatives and requirements for buildings to achieve energy savings and install renewable energy systems. These include a strict energy code, green building requirements, multiple rebates and incentives, and required energy actions.  

Last updated: March 2020

Building Energy Code AdoptionList All

Overview 

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. The city’s zEPI score for their commercial energy code is 52.3.  

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. The city’s zEPI score for their residential energy code is 58.4.  

Solar- and EV-ready  

The city council requires all new residential and solar projects be solar-ready through Resolution No. 20170202-040. Austin provides residential solar-ready guidelines to help applicants and reviewers determine compliance with the ordinance. The city does not mandate projects to be EV-ready.  

Low-energy use requirements

Austin’s above-code green building requirements apply to new private buildings in defined areas of the city, including the central business district. 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. In addition, Resolution No. 000608-43 requires new municipal buildings to achieve LEED standards. 

Last updated: March 2020

Building Energy Code Enforcement and ComplianceList All

Austin does not have internal staff dedicated solely to energy code compliance. Austin’s Residential Energy Code requires third-party testing of building air leakage rate, duct leakage, air flow, pressure differentials, and system static pressure. The city’s Commercial Energy Code requires lighting systems and control testing and the commissioning of HVAC equipment. 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 2020

Benchmarking, Rating, & Transparency List All

Commercial and multifamily 

Austin's Energy Conservation and Audit Disclosure Ordinance (ECAD) requires commercial buildings to obtain ENERGY STAR ratings and disclose ratings to prospective buyers. The city adopted the ordinance in November 2008 and it became effective in 2012. Buildings of five or more units are required to comply with the ECAD.  

Austin’s multifamily ECAD requires multifamily property owners and managers to conduct energy audits every ten years and provide the results to current and prospective residents. A qualified ECAD Energy Professional must perform the audits.  

Single-family 

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.                                                                                         

Last updated: March 2020

Incentives and Financing for Efficient Buildings and Renewable EnergyList All

The utility offers low- to moderate-income households rebates for home weatherization and efficiency improvements. The city also offers density bonuses to commercial and residential properties that adhere to green building standards. Austin Energy also offers rebates for a variety of efficiency improvements for residentialmultifamily, and commercial properties. 

Last updated: March 2020

Required Energy ActionsList All

The City of Austin requires building owners to perform the following energy actions.

Austin’s Energy Conservation Audit and Disclosure Ordinance requires all homes and multifamily buildings (five or more units) that are ten years and older to have an energy audit performed. Home sellers must disclose results to perspective buyers at the time of sale, and owners of multifamily buildings must disclose the energy guide to prospective renters.  

The city requires multifamily properties to reduce energy use by 20% if the property’s energy use intensity exceeds 150% of the average. These properties must also provide a High Energy Use report to current and prospective residents.     

Last updated: March 2020

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Workforce DevelopmentList All

The City of Austin partnered with the University of Texas to partially fund the Austin Clean Tech Incubator.

Last updated: March 2020

Energy & Water Utilities
Score: 9.5 out of 15 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 ratepayer funded efficiency programs.

Last Updated: March 2020

Electric & Gas Energy Efficiency Programs and SavingsList All

In 2018, Austin Energy reported 110,780 MWh in net electric savings at the meter, which represents 0.83 % of its retail sales. In 2018, Austin Energy spent $17,973,000 on energy efficiency programs, which represents 1.47% of its retail revenue.

In 2018, Texas Gas Service reported 0.30 MMTherms of net natural gas savings at the meter, which represents 0.09% of its retail sales across the utility’s service territory. In 2018, TGS spent $3,294,160 on energy efficiency, which equates to $5.28 per residential customer. These savings figures represented in this section cover 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: March 2020

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. Austin Energy also initiated a low-income multifamily weatherization program to focus on apartment complexes meeting certain low-income housing requirements.

In 2018, Austin Energy achieved 2,895 MWh in energy savings while spending $3,989,267 on its low-income programs and served 2,314 low-income households.  

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 CO detectors, smoke detectors, wall and central furnaces, natural gas water heaters, and ranges as well as any necessary plumbing or carpentry upgrades to ensure a safe and code compliant home.

In 2018, Texas Gas Service served 145 low-income households. Savings and spending values for 2018 were not available.

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.

In 2018, Austin Energy saved 5,708 MWh, while spending $1,574,902 on its low-income programs and served 4,932units through its program.

At this time, Texas Gas Service does not offer energy efficiency programs targeted at multifamily properties.

Last Updated: March 2020

Provision of Energy Data by UtilitiesList All

Austin Energy provides the Schneider EPO (Austin Energy Load Profiler) at no cost to its commercial customers. 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: March 2020

Renewable Energy Efforts of Energy UtilitiesList All

Renewable Energy Incentives

In 2018, Austin Energy offered its Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Rebate & Incentive program. We were unable to determine the total spent and kW saved in 2018. Austin Energy’s Solar Photovoltaic Rebate program provides up to $2,500 for customers who complete a solar education course and install a qualifying solar photovoltaic system on their home. The solar education course covers topics such as sizing your system, solar access and equipment, rebates and financing, and comparison of proposals.

City-Led Efforts to Decarbonize the Electric Grid

In 2018, Austin Energy produced 43% of its total generation from renewable sources.

Last Updated: March 2020

Efficiency Efforts in Water ServicesList All

City-wide water efficiency and goals

The energy and water utilities do not currently offer joint water and energy efficiency programs to customers, but Texas Gas Service does offer free water-saving kits to residential customers and direct installation measures including low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators to commercial customers through CLEAResult. In addition, Austin implements tiered water pricing and 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 including rainwater harvesting and commercial process rebates.

In 2014, Austin’s city council adopted a goal to reduce total water use to 140 gallons per capita per day (GPCD) and residential water use to 85 gallons per capita per day by 2024. 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. In 2018, total water use was 124 GPCD. In November 2018, Austin City Council adopted Water Forward, an integrated water resource plan that includes a suite of demand- and supply-side options to address Austin’s water needs over the next 100 years and ensure long-term water availability through a variety of climate conditions. The Water Forward plan includes a 2025 target of 6,970 AF of additional water savings from demand management strategies (including onsite reuse).

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 including rainwater harvesting and commercial process rebates. In November 2018, Austin City Council adopted Water Forward, an integrated water resource plan that includes a suite of demand- and supply-side options to address Austin’s water needs over the next 100 years and ensure long-term water availability through a variety of climate conditions. The Water Forward plan includes a 2025 target of 6,970 AF of additional water savings from demand management strategies (including onsite reuse).

Water plant 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. Since 2012, Austin Water has used 100% renewable energy through participation in Austin Energy’s Green Choice program, which supports the purchase of renewable energy.

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.

Last Updated: March 2020

Transportation
Score: 18 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

Sustainable Transportation Planning List All

Sustainable Transportation Plan

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. Austin has also recently finalized the Austin Strategic Mobility Plan

VMT/GHG Target and Stringency

At this time, the City does not have a codified vehicle miles traveled (VMT) or greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction target. 

Progress Achieved Toward VMT/GHG Targets

Austin tracks VMT and GHG in their community inventory.  This is used as the basis for all of their transportation related GHG analysis.

Last Updated: March 2020

Location Efficiency List All

Location Efficient Zoning Codes

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.

Residential Parking Policies

The City has removed minimum parking requirements for certain zoning districts (e.g. Central Business District).

Location Efficiency Incentives and Disclosure

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. Other incentives can be found here.

Last Updated: March 2020

Mode Shift List All

Mode Shift Targets

The Austin Strategic Mobility Plan has a 50/50 mode split target with 50% SOV and 50% all other modes by 2039.  See page 9. 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. 

The main goal of the newly adopted Strategic Mobility Plan is to reach a '50/50' commute mode split as measured by the American Census Survey where 50% of citizens commute to work in single occupancy vehicles and 50% use other modes to commute (target year of 2039).  Currently this split is 74/26 where 74% of commuters drive alone to work.

Progress Achieved Toward Mode Shift Targets

Austin measures progress through the ACS survey showing the commute mode split in Austin.  The target was adopted in 2019 so progress has not yet been measured, but the intent is to measure progress on an anual basis using ACS data.

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.

Car Sharing

There are two car sharing programs currently available to the residents and visitors of Austin, Car2go, and zipcar. The City of Austin has partnered with both to provide convenient, on street parking for customers. Both Car2Go and Zipcar have designated spaces in Downtown Austin (marked by posted signs). Additionally, Car2Go vehicles may park at City of Austin metered spaces for free. Car share vehicles are still subject to most posted signs and are not allowed to park in no-parking zones, fire zones, commercial zones, and other similar areas.

Bike Sharing

The city is served by a bike sharing program, Austin B-cycle, with over 70 operable stations and 500 bikes. Austin also has 2,000 JUMP e-bikes and 50 VeoRIDE bicycles. 

Last Updated: March 2020 

Transit List All

Transportation Funding

The CapMetro transit system, the CARTS-RURAL Transportation System, and the San Marcos Urban Transit Distrcit that serve Austin has received $277,166,278 in average annual funding from 2014-2018. This funding level is $127.83 per resident in the service territory of the agency, putting it in the third highest category ($$80-$200) available in the City Scorecard.

Access to Transit Services

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 5.2, putting it in the fourth highest category (5-6.99) available in the City Scorecard.

Last Updated: March 2020

Efficient VehiclesList All

Vehicle Purchase Incentives

At this time, the City of Austin does not offer incentives for citizens to purchase hybrid, plug-in, or EV vehicles.

Vehicle Infrastructure Incentives

Austin Energy offers rebates for both public and private charging stations for residents, businesses, multifamily properties and auto dealers all of which can be found here. Austin Energy is also piloting a time of use charging program that promotes off peak vehicle charging called EV 360 which can be found here.

EV Charging Locations

The City has 263 charging stations available for public use, equivalent to 27.275 stations per 100,000 people

Renewable Charging Incentives

All of Austin Energy’s 162 electrical vehicle charging stations are powered using 100% renewable energy provided through Austin Energy’s Greenchoice program.

Last Updated: March 2020

Freight System EfficiencyList All

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

Last Updated: March 2019

Clean, Efficient Transportation for Low-Income CommunitiesList All

Affordable New TOD Housing Policy

Austin requires and offers incentives in the form of density bonuses in Transit Oriented Developments. Its SMART housing program offers density bonuses and expedited permitting. The neighborhood housing and community development department also has a goal for 25% of affordable housing created or preserved to be within ¼ mile of high frequency transit.

Connecting Existing Affordable Housing Stock to Efficient Transportation Options

Capital Metro offers a Reduced Fare ID (RFID) Card that enables eligible riders to receive a half-price fare. The card costs $3 and is good for 2 years. The bikeshare system B-cycle also has a low-income program called B-Cycle for all. To qualify for the B-cycle For All program, you must be an Austin resident, have an annual household income of $28,500 or less, and not be a full-time student.

Last Updated: March 2020