Austin Climate Protection Plan Year One Highlights

A progress report on Austin's war on global warming

Ester Matthews, ACPP director
Ester Matthews, ACPP director (Photo by John Anderson)

This information is excerpted from the ACPP office's Report to City Council, April 2008, a comprehensive matrix showing the status of its initiatives. Download the report here.

MUNICIPAL PLAN

Make all city of Austin facilities, fleets, and operations totally carbon-neutral by 2020.

Action Item: Secure new wind power and other renewable-energy contracts, sufficient to 100% power all city facilities by 2012.

Status: GreenChoice Batch-6 becomes available for municipal use by end of 2008.

Action Item: Build solar installations on all new and existing city facilities, where feasible.

Status: Austin Energy has obtained city funding sufficient for the next eight years of solar installations.

Action Item: Make entire city vehicle fleet carbon-neutral by 2020: 1) Convert existing vehicles to alternative fuels, and 2) purchase hybrids and new technologies.

Status: New fueling stations for eth­a­nol (E85, E10) and biodiesel will be ready for use by May '08. Vehicle purchases planned for FY 08: 155 biodiesel, 187 E85, 37 electric hybrid, 39 propane.

UTILITY PLAN

Make Austin Energy the leading utility in the nation for greenhouse-gas reductions.

Action Item: Municipal: Reduce energy consumption and GHG emissions by all city departments and facilities.

Status: All city departments are developing baseline energy-use audits, as well as energy efficiency/savings plans.

Action Item: Public: Communitywide, reduce overall energy consumption to achieve 700 megawatts of new savings by 2020.

Status: Developing overall Austin Energy plan to save an average 50 MWs, each of next 12 years, to meet 2020 goal. FY 07 savings: 65 MW.

Action Item: Develop new renewable-energy plan, based on demand and market realities.

Status: City to kick off Public Participation Plan, to gather community input and educate the public on options.

Action Item: Accelerate Solar Rooftop Program

Status: In eight-year capital improvement project plan. Installed to date: 1.6 MW.

Action Item: Establish prior CO2 footprint, in order to establish a realistic CO2 cap-and-reduction plan.

Status: CO2 emissions of AE in 2005-06 have been verified by California Climate Action Registry; Water Utility now in submission process.

HOMES AND BUILDING PLAN

Implement the most energy-efficient building codes in the nation, and aggressively pursue energy-efficiency retrofits and upgrades to existing building stock.

Action Item: New construction: Increase efficiency requirements by stages in 2007, 2009, 2012, and 2015, yielding a 65-75% improvement.

Status: 2007 goal achieved, took effect 2008.

Action Item: Existing homes: Require energy- efficiency retrofits and upgrades at point of sale.

Status: Task force meeting biweekly. Will report findings to council by June, develop ordinance by August, to be implemented by December 2008.

Action Item: Green Building Program: 1) Strengthen with enhanced technical assistance, incentives, and standards, and 2) draft proposal to require two-star rating for all existing programs, policies, etc., and PUDs.

Status: Sustainable City Building Resolution adopted November '07. Plan complete first quarter of 2008. Begin implementing phase one marketing plan first quarter of 2008. First through second quarter of 2008: Analyze existing programs, policies, etc., and prepare recommendations.

COMMUNITY PLAN

Through education, transportation, and land-use planning, reduce greenhouse-gas emissions citywide, by all citizens, in every activity.

Action Item: Climate Action Team: City of Austin departments.

Status: January '08: Ten city department liaisons began meeting bimonthly to discuss departmental plans and community plan.

Action Item: Community advisory team: Expand the team to include community members and groups.

Status: June/July '08: Form, meet monthly, and begin master inventory of GHG generated from all sources, communitywide.

GO NEUTRAL PLAN

Take Austin's net greenhouse-gas emissions down to zero by 2020.

Action Item: Launch ACPP website.

Status: Public launch April '08.

Develop local "carbon-footprint" calculator.

Status: Launch by September '08.

Action Item: Offer program for purchasing "carbon offset" credits; set up fund for city of Austin offsets.

Status: First funds received from South by Southwest.

Action Item: Fund carbon-offset projects of local nonprofits.

Status: Contracting with Earth Share to distribute funding to nonprofits.


POLICY WATCH: MILESTONES AHEAD

Target dates to track the city's implementation of the 2007 council policies that support climate protection:

Austin Energy: Town Hall Meetings

Involves the community in making tough energy-generation choices, through an Energy Resource Planning Public Participation Process.

Series: May-September

Zero Energy Capable Homes

Requires that all new homes built be increasingly energy-efficient; by 2015, requires them to be capable (with the addition of solar panels) of consuming no net energy. Energy code successfully changed in 2007.

Next Energy Code amendments: 2009

Energy Efficiency Retrofit Task Force

Meeting biweekly. Upon sale of existing homes and buildings, new ordinance will require 1) energy-use disclosure and 2) retrofit to minimum energy-efficiency standards.

June: Task force report and recommendations to city manager

August: New ordinance at council

January: Ordinance in effect

Green Building Program: Upgrades

In progress. Goals: Raise required standard to two-star and apply uniformly and more broadly across zoning categories; expand requirements to more projects and apply to city affordable-housing programs. Require enhanced two-star for public utility district zoning. Offer certification for "carbon neutral" buildings.

By June: Recommendations and plan to be returned to council

Municipal Buildings: Sustainability

Initiative to ensure minimum Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Silver construction for city buildings, greater consistency, etc. Addresses sustainable operations and maintenance for all municipal buildings.

By July: Incorporate into capital-improvement project tracking system; develop sustainability standards for small projects

Energy Depletion Risks Task Force

Meeting monthly. Citywide assessment and inventory of how city activities could be hurt by a decline in the supply of oil and natural gas. Recommendations (behind schedule) will go to council and city manager for strategic planning and reduced dependence on fossil fuels.

Fall: Report to council

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Austin Climate Protection Plan, ACPP, Will Wynn, Roger Duncan, Austin Energy, Climate Action Plans

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