Austin Energy Green Building

Austin Energy Green Building developed the world’s first rating system for evaluating the sustainability of buildings.  It created a model for many other cities, as well as direction for the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED® certification system.  The rating system, begun in 1991, encourages energy efficiency, water quality and conservation, indoor air quality, waste reduction and recovery, and site development in a holistic package.  It created a model for many other cities, as well as direction for the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED® certification system.  

The rating system received recognition from the United Nations in 1992 and 2011. Rated buildings now include over 15,400 single family homes, 26,500 multifamily units, and over 30 million square feet of commercial space including over 9,000 high-rise residential units. 

By 2019, 28 Years of Green Building and Energy Code equaled: 

  • Greenhouse Gas emission reduction of over 192,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent;
  • 477,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) saved annually – the average yearly electrical use of over 45,000 Austin homes;
  • 614 million gallons saved annually – the average yearly water use of over 9,000 Austin homes; and
  • One-time construction waste diversion of 402,000 tons – the yearly trash collection of over 623,000 Austin homes.

Some of these stories focus on our more recent leading-edge initiatives. Others are written to help new home buyers as well as builders better understand sustainable building concepts and products.

Austin’s Zero Energy Duplexes

The dedication of four duplexes in the Guadalupe-Saldana Net  Zero Subdivision in 2013 marked an important step on the road to development of net zero energy residences in Austin.  “Net zero” is a term used to describe a home so energy-efficient that renewable energy can offset all or most of its annual energy use.   Have all the units achieved the goal?  Some have done so by a modest margin, while others have missed the target.  Over the 22 months since residents moved in, net monthly energy use averaged 54 kilowatt hours per dwelling unit. Energy use is greatly influenced by occupants’ lifestyles, habits and awareness.

Built for Durability

It can be difficult to think about long-term durability when building a new home. Every material seems durable at that time.  But what would happen if you left each material outside, exposed to the sun, rain, high winds and other elements over years or decades?  The reality is that new, apparently durable materials can still be damaged if they’re not installed properly or protected adequately.  This article describes the most common durability mistakes in residential construction, their causes, and how to avoid them.

Myth-Busting: Windows, Attic Fans, and Solar Tubes

Common misconceptions about modern products can lead to misuse, overuse, or non-use. This article delivers the facts people need to consider when building or remodeling a home regarding windows, attic fans, solar tubes, and skylights.

Myth-Busting: LEDs, Fireplaces, and Spray Foam Insulation

The second in a series, this story looks into common misconceptions about light emitting diodes (LEDs), fireplaces and their affect on indoor air quality, and spray foam insulation.

Green for Good

It is no coincidence that during the fall of 2015, 100% of the active nonprofit projects on Austin Energy Green Building’s commercial ratings docket voluntarily chose to build green.  Green building is especially attractive to nonprofits, both those building their own facilities and those whose mission is providing affordable housing for low-income residents.  Here are some of the incentives and benefits.

Cool House Tours

The Cool House Tour is an annual self-guided tour produced by Austin Energy Green Building (AEGB) and Texas Solar Energy Society (TXSES) since 1997. The Tour showcases houses designed and built to superior standards of energy efficiency, comfort and regional design, and all tour homes are AEGB-rated for sustainability.  Many incorporate solar technologies. Tour guidebooks from over the years show how the tour has moved beyond listing the home’s green features to telling the story of how the homeowners create and live in a sustainable home. 

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