Energy Efficiency Is All Important

RECEIVED Mon., Sept. 17, 2007

Dear Editor,
    UT's "The Affordability Toolbox" listed in the "No Room at the Complex" [News, Sept. 14] article should have included energy efficiency as a means to control overall rental costs. Most complexes have old air-conditioning units, while their air-duct systems leak as much as 25-50%. Goodbye energy dollars.
    Locally, Austin Energy's rebate programs encourage multifamily complex owners to upgrade their units to newer energy standards for air conditioning, heating, lighting, ductwork, and appliances. But only a fraction of the apartments are either built to Green Building standards or have been retrofitted via Austin Energy's programs (see www.austinenergy.com – go to “energy efficiency” then “tips” then “Energy Efficient Apartments”).
    Prospective tenants should ask the apartment manager what the complex has done to keep energy bills down to help stingy apartment owners care more about energy-efficiency upgrades.
    Also, the Chronicle should indicate if new buildings are being rated by the city's Green Building program. “Austin's Cultural Makeover: The Next Stage" [Arts, Sept. 7] was a missed opportunity to give credit to the foresight of some nonprofit staff and boards who know that building "green" is important for both the global environmental and the bottom line. For example, the Austin Lyric Opera used native daylight to save on electricity in their offices and used previous pavement and natural landscaping to minimize storm-water runoff. In 2000, the former Green Building Task Force sent a letter encouraging the architect and committee of the Mexican American Cultural Center to use the city's commercial Green Building program. They did not, but the building does have many “green” features.
    But how many other centers have followed their example?
    If I were a prospective capital campaign donor for the Long Center or another arts/cultural group, I would be asking them if they had an energy-reduction plan or a greenhouse-gas reduction plan to be used during the building's construction and operation phase before I gave.
The climate matters,
Scott Johnson
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