When Texans look to their state capital, they see a diverse and sprawling metropolis of just under a million people, a vibrant cultural and economic hub, and a downtown skyline undergoing rapid transformation. Less visible at is the city’s long and continued commitment to the energy efficiency of its built environment. Austin stands as a fine example of how a city can go beyond minimum statewide requirements to give its residents a better, greener future. In addition to adopting strong energy codes, the city has also taken a significant interest in renewable energy, including solar.
In June, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a historic plan under the Clean Air Act’s Section 111(d) to significantly reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the nation’s largest source: existing power plants. Because 71 percent of America’s electricity is consumed by residential and commercial buildings, building energy codes – which have proven to be among the most cost effective measures to reduce carbon emissions – should be a prominent part of the menu of options that states can include in the State Compliance Plans they file with EPA. Unfortunately, EPA’s proposed plan doesn’t name specific demand reduction measures, like energy efficiency, that would be eligible for emission credits, let alone cite building energy codes as an option for state compliance plans.