Sustainability Action Agenda: Austin Energy Green Building rating system encourages sustainable design

Nov 20, 2013 - 11:28 am

Over 20 years ago, the nation’s first green building program was created right here in Austin, Texas.  The Austin Energy Green Building (AEGB) rating system is structured around the concept that buildings should be designed and constructed to reduce impacts to human health and the natural environment.  This is especially important because approximately 50% of the world’s energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions come from buildings and construction.

To date, Austin Energy Green Building has rated more than 10,000 homes and 15,000,000 square feet of commercial structures.  As much as one-third of all single-family homes and apartments built in Austin are now green rated homes.  Additionally, most of the new commercial and multifamily buildings downtown and in large-scale developments are Green Building-rated.  The program has successfully avoided more than 20,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions since 2003.  This year Green Building has offset 18 megawatts of peak demand and saved more than 45,182 megawatt-hours of electricity.

AEGB rates single family homes, multi-family residences, and commercial structures in the following areas:

• Site (proximity to community amenities, rain gutter placements, and landscaping for onsite filtration)
• Energy (thermal envelope design, high performance heating and cooling systems, efficient water heaters, control systems, etc.)
• Water (efficient fixtures and plumbing, as well as auxiliary water sources)
• Materials (using reclaimed or recycled-content products and materials)
• Indoor air quality (using paints, flooring, and other finishes that produce low VOCs, as well as natural ventilation and lighting)
• Education and Innovation

Recently, Austin Energy Green Building rolled out updates to its rating systems for single-family, multifamily, and commercial construction, building on the current rating categories, increasing technical requirements, and responding to newly adopted energy codes.  The updates help to meet Austin Energy’s goal of offsetting 800 megawatts of generation through energy efficiency by 2020.

Owners who participate in the Austin Energy Green Building program end up with buildings that are healthy and safe, mitigate the urban heat island effect, use energy and water efficiently, and protect water quality.

Interested in using the AEGB rating system on your new building or remodel?  To get started, review the rating guides and scorecards available and start setting goals for your project.  Remember that AEGB staff are ready to help!

Find out more about the sustainability initiatives being tracked as part of the Sustainability Action Agenda and decide how you will take action to secure a bright, green future for Austin.

                                                                                image of a green home