Austin Energy Green Building rolls out major updates to its Green Building rating systems for single-family, multifamily, and commercial construction. The updated ratings prepare projects seeking a Green Building rating to achieve higher energy savings, increased levels of building performance and overall positive environmental benefits.
“The result is a greener, cleaner, and healthier Austin,” said Debbie Kimberly, Austin Energy Vice President for Customer Energy Solutions. “When buildings operate at optimum performance, customers save energy, emissions from power plants are reduced and the community benefits,” Kimberly said.
How Does it Work?
The 2013 ratings build on the current ratings, increase the technical requirements, and respond to the newly adopted energy codes. Green Building’s one- to five-star rating structure incentivizes progressively higher achievements that fulfill resource efficiency goals and achieve anticipated results.
The updates help to meet Austin Energy’s goal of completing its second conservation power plant by offsetting 800 megawatts of generation through energy efficiency from 2007 through 2020. Austin Energy achieved its first conservation power plant by offsetting 700 MW through energy efficiency between 1982 and 2006. The updates also help to address sustainability and climate change goals in the Austin Climate Protection Plan passed by the Austin City Council in 2007.
Key goals and improvements in the 2013 Green Building Ratings include:
- Reorganize the rating into more traditional sustainability sections: Education, Site, Energy, Water, Materials and Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality, and Innovations to make the Green Building impacts more transparent from design through construction and occupancy.
- Streamline the number of measures to recognize improvements in sustainable construction practices that have already been achieved and place more focus on high-impact measures.
- Introduce an energy performance path to rating that allows projects to earn points for performance as documented by an energy model in lieu of prescriptive measures and gives design teams more creative flexibility.
- Introduce a Team/Education section to recognize the impact integrated design and education can have on the future of Green Building.
- Simplify the irrigation water use calculator requiring all projects to use the calculator rather than using prescriptive landscape measures in recognition of Austin’s and Texas’ ongoing water scarcity. Updating the indoor water use calculator and considering water efficient appliances separately from plumbing fixtures to place more emphasis on efficient appliances.
- Place greater emphasis on variable capacity HVAC systems to improve performance, particularly for small units.
- Increase energy efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions responsible for climate change. Focus on measurement, metering and performance. Alignment with Austin Energy goals for load shifting and solar with new measures introduced for Advanced Metering and Demand Response, and increased emphasis on renewable energy.
- Protect water resources. New requirements for water use reduction outdoors (landscape irrigation) and efficient water use indoors including process water.
- Improve human health and well-being. Greater emphasis on daylight, acoustics, low-emitting materials, and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and phthalate-free materials.
- Protect and restore biodiversity. Align with Imagine Austin development goals.
- Promote sustainable materials. Introduce Life Cycle Analysis, thereby establishing a holistic way of accounting for sustainably sourced materials, staying ahead of Zero Waste goals.
- Strengthen Austin’s green economy and enhance quality of life. Introduce construction worker equity measure and emphasis on sustainable education.