Policy Brief: Austin, TX

Austin, TX requires its buildings to benchmark and disclose energy performanceOn Nov. 6, 2008, the Austin City Council approved the Energy Conservation Audit and Disclosure Ordinance (#20081106-047), one of the most aggressive pieces of building energy efficiency legislation in the nation. It requires building energy rating and disclosure for nonresidential facilities and mandatory energy audits for homes and apartment complexes. Some apartment complexes are also required to undergo energy retrofits.

The ordinance became effective in June 2009. It supports former Austin Mayor Will Wynn's Climate Protection Plan, launched in 2007, that aims to offset 700 megawatts of peak energy demand by 2020 to reduce Austin's carbon footprint. The ordinance was crafted by the Austin Energy Efficiency Retrofit Task Force with input from local realtors and other parties.

Key Provisions

The law requires energy audits and upgrades in addition to a commercial building energy rating and disclosure mandate.

Residential Energy Audits

Effective June 1, 2009, residences with four or fewer units, including all single-family homes, must complete an energy audit prior to the sale of the property and provide a copy of the results of the audit to prospective purchasers. A range of exemptions are available, including for homes built within 10 years of the sale date, all condominiums or voluntary participation in some Austin Energy Utility programs. Audits are valid for 10 years.

Multifamily Audits and Upgrades

Apartment buildings older than 10 years must have an energy audit by June 1, 2011, while buildings less than 10 years old are required to perform an audit within 10 years of the completion of construction. The results of the audit must be posted within the building and provided to prospective tenants and buyers. Additionally, "high energy-use" properties consuming more than 150% of the average multifamily energy use per SF in Austin must make energy retrofits within 18 months to bring the property to within 110% of the average.

Commercial Building Rating and Disclosure

Nonresidential buildings over 10,000 SF must be benchmarked using Portfolio Manager or the Austin Energy Business Energy Analysis tool. The rating must be disclosed to prospective buyers prior to contract singing and to Austin Energy within 30 days of the transaction. Compliance deadlines are phased in by size threshold:

            • June 1, 2012 for buildings 75,000 SF and larger; 
            • June 1, 2013 for those 30,000 to 69,999 SF; 
            • June 1, 2014 for those 10,000 to 29,999 SF

Building owners must calculate energy ratings by June 1 each year subsequent to initial compliance. Industrial and manufacturing properties are exempt.


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Austin Energy website | Info for building owners

ECAD Ordinance (2008)

Rulemaking on the ordinance (Sept. 21, 2009)

Austin Board of Realtors' Guide to ECAD (2009)