Net-Zero Hero: Pat & Dale Bulla

We are helping make Austin Net-Zero by generating and conserving energy at home. 


Austin is green and we all want to keep it that way! As a community, we’re committed to reaching the target of Net-Zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, which will ensure a safe, healthy, vibrant Austin for many years to come. Here’s the story of how two people can make a difference.


Meet Pat & Dale Bulla, retired educators and active environmentalists who are maximizing energy in their home to help Austin achieve Net-Zero by 2050. From installing solar panels and rain barrels, to using smaller and more efficient appliances, they are always finding ways to live as green as possible. We spoke with Pat and Dale on how they’re doing it, what their toughest challenges have been, and what advice they have for others looking to live Net-Zero. Read more below. 



We know people whose utility bill is almost as much as their mortgage and we didn't want to be in that situation. Since we are retired teachers we need to carefully monitor our expenses!  We also know that our planet is warming and want to do our part to pass on a planet that is healthy for the next generation.


It’s been a combination of good planning around our home including passive solar design with no west windows, and a large roof overhang for sun protection in summer. With our architect's help, we utilized a great deal of natural light from energy-efficient, casement windows, which are well placed to allow for breeze flow-through and "chimney" effect. The windows on our house have special glass that blocks out heat. We also installed seven ceiling fans, one in every major room. 

We subscribed to GreenChoice and added solar panels on our house and garage. We’ve been strategic about where we plant shade trees and we replaced our composition shingle roof with a metal roof when hail damage required roof replacement. The metal roof reflects sunlight and lowers our cooling costs along with a smart programmable thermostat. 

We also have extensive composting and a drought-tolerant, all-native yard that requires no mowing or chemicals. We don't use a sprinkler system but have 800 gallons of rainwater collection after only a half-inch of rain. We use that water to give trees an extra drink during drought times.


Our house produces more electricity than we use, even during scorching Texas summers and while charging our zero-emission all-electric plug-in car at home. It is great to drive right past gas stations in our electric car!


There are up-front costs to many of these efforts, but there are also rebates and tax incentives to help make it affordable. And in the long term, all of that saves money and increases the value of our home. By thinking long term instead of short term, many people can save money while protecting the planet.


When it comes to the environment, there are a lot of things we can’t control, but one can always control personal decisions and actions. Choose to take good care of our earth!  There is no need to sacrifice and there is no planet B.  So join in as we protect the environment, leave a livable planet for our children and save money in the process.


Going 100% solar at home can reduce your personal carbon footprint by over 40%. Every action counts! 


To learn more about Austin's Net-Zero Goal, view the Community Climate Plan.


Share your Net-Zero contributions with us on Twitter or Facebook and use #NetZeroHero. If you know a Net-Zero Hero who should be recognized for their efforts, send your nomination to