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Incentives/Policies for Renewables & Efficiency

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City of Austin - Commercial and Residential Green Building Requirements   

Last DSIRE Review: 07/31/2012
Program Overview:
State: Texas
Incentive Type: Building Energy Code
Eligible Efficiency Technologies: Comprehensive Measures/Whole Building
Eligible Renewable/Other Technologies: Solar Water Heat, Solar Space Heat, Photovoltaics, Wind, Biomass, Geothermal Heat Pumps, Daylighting, Small Hydroelectric
Applicable Sectors: Commercial, Residential, Multi-Family Residential
Residential Code:Requirement based on the Austin Energy Green Building Ratings and/or LEED certification; varies by zoning, location and building type
Commercial Code:Requirement based on the Austin Energy Green Building Ratings and/or LEED certification; varies by zoning, location and building type
Code Change Cycle:3 years, beginning with the 2006 code
Web Site:!ut/p/c5/04...
Authority 1:
Austin Code ยง25 (Land Development)
Authority 2:
Date Enacted:
City Council Resolution No. 20070215-23
Authority 3:
Date Enacted:
City Council Resolution No. 20071213-64
Authority 4:
Date Enacted:
City Council Resolution No. 20081106-048
Authority 5:
Date Enacted:
Date Effective:
City Council Resolution No. 20081106-047
Authority 6:
Date Enacted:
City Council Ordinance No. 20100408-051

Note: The requirements listed below are current only up to the date of last review (see the top of this page). The City of Austin may also make additional requirements depending on the circumstances of a given project. Interested parties should contact the program office for more detailed information when planning a project.

The City of Austin has numerous green building provisions within the city building code, with requirements that vary according to location, zoning designation and building type. The building standards rely on the Austin Energy Green Building Rating system and the LEED certification system as metrics. In some cases developers have the option of achieving compliance under either of the two systems. Under the Austin Energy Green Building Rating System, buildings are awarded up to five stars depending on the number and breadth of green building elements that are incorporated into the design. 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 (see Climate Protection Plan information at bottom).

While these standards are among the most progressive in the nation, the City of Austin has taken the Green Building Program much further. In February 15, 2007, the city council passed Resolution No. 20070215-23, 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.

The Zero-Energy Capable Homes (ZECH) Task Force was designated to draft design recommendations and progressively increasing goals for the program, and the first series of code amendments were adopted by the City Council on October 18, 2007. The new building codes are based on the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) with amendments according to program targets. The November 2006 version of the Austin Energy Code served as a reference until 2010 when Ordinance No. 20100408-051 adopted the 2009 the IECC with local amendments as the third phase of the Zero Energy Capable Homes initiative under the Austin Climate Protection Plan.

An Energy Efficiency Retrofits (EER) Task Force was created by Resolution No. 20071213-64 in December 2007 to examine strategies for reducing energy use in existing buildings. The EER Task Force issued its own recommendations in September 2008. The City Council subsequently 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. The structure and timing of the goals differ for residential, multi-family residential, and commercial structures (see resolution for details). In a related adoption, Resolution No. 20081106-047 established energy conservation audit and disclosure requirements for residential, commercial, and multi-family residential buildings. In general 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 multi-family 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. Please see the actual resolution for additional details and exceptions.

Information about public building standards in Austin can be accessed here.

  Sophie Roark
Austin Energy
721 Barton Springs
Austin, TX 78704-1194
Phone: (512) 482-5300
Fax: (512) 482-5441
Web Site:
  Richard Morgan
Austin Energy
721 Barton Springs Road
Austin, TX 78704-1194
Phone: (512) 482-5309
Web Site:
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Disclaimer: The information presented on the DSIRE web site provides an unofficial overview of financial incentives and other policies. It does not constitute professional tax advice or other professional financial guidance, and it should not be used as the only source of information when making purchasing decisions, investment decisions or tax decisions, or when executing other binding agreements. Please refer to the individual contact provided below each summary to verify that a specific financial incentive or other policy applies to your project.

While the DSIRE staff strives to provide the best information possible, the DSIRE staff, the N.C. Solar Center, N.C. State University and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Inc. make no representations or warranties, either express or implied, concerning the accuracy, completeness, reliability or suitability of the information. The DSIRE staff, the N.C. Solar Center, N.C. State University and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Inc. disclaim all liability of any kind arising out of your use or misuse of the information contained or referenced on DSIRE Web pages.

Copyright 2013 - 2014 North Carolina State University, under NREL Subcontract No. XEU-0-99515-01. Permission granted only for personal or educational use, or for use by or on behalf of the U.S. government. North Carolina State University prohibits the unauthorized display, reproduction, sale, and/or distribution of all or portions of the content of the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) without prior, written consent.