1. Who are some of the clients of Austin Energy Green Building?
“Well, we consider our primary customers and clients to be the City and the citizens and the rate payers of Austin Energy. Then there is the development community and builders & contractors and essentially the design and construction industry throughout Austin.”
2. Is it a required program for certain types of buildings or is it voluntary for all?
“It is required for some buildings. It is not required based on the type of building but usually based on zoning or participation in the city program. In the case of PUDs (Planned Unit Developments), green building is almost always required because the developers are usually requesting some kind of special zoning, either more density or more height, or some change in their standard zoning, which is essentially the definition of a PUD. In exchange for that, the city asks for certain things in return; green building, affordable housing, that sort of thing. So, it can either be based on zoning or location. For instance downtown, everything downtown that is zoned Downtown Mixed Use (DMU) or Central Business District (CBD) has to be rated green because of the downtown design guidelines. That would be another category, location. Then there is program related, so all affordable housing that is subsidized by the city in any way has to be green. The idea behind that is that housing that is supported by the city should be more sustainable for energy and resource efficient and more durable for the city and for the people who live in those houses.”
3. Why did Austin Energy Green Building decide to become a USGBC Chapter Platinum partner?
“We were charter members of USGBC national when it first started in ’93 or ’94. We have a long and collaborative relationship with USGBC and we have been active with the Chapter since it was started. Our staff members are people who work for Austin Energy Green Building and have participated in many ways. They have participated in different committees as board members. Also, because our goals are so much in alignment, I think we try to support each other in trying to move the entire industry toward a more sustainable future.”
4. From your perspective, where is the green building movement heading in Austin, and also in Central Texas?
“I think the building industry in general is heading toward a future that is going to be more dependent on better design, better communication between buildings and the people who operate them, and the utilities that serve those buildings. I think the industry is going to get more complex rather than simpler. Both the Central Texas Chapter and Austin Energy Green Building are going to work to facilitate the development of the next generation of systems that will lead to a higher level of sustainability in an era where we are not going to get the results that we are used to getting from equipment. We are going to have to focus on a higher level of design, systems, and communications rather than higher levels of equipment efficiency.”
5. In your opinion, what would you count as a significant milestone in the green industry in Central Texas?
“A milestone that we have passed, or a milestone that is coming in the future?”
How about both?
“I think the Climate Protection Plan was a key milestone because it really focused our attention on the future and how we are going to establish some long term goals that have held up over the last 5 or 6 years for us to target; goals for energy efficiency and emissions reductions and goals for how we are going to operate and manage this city to make Austin a responsible player in developing the future. I think that is a key milestone that happened in the past and that we are still working on. A key milestone in the future, I think are the completion of a lot of the public and private development partnerships that were started downtown. I think that is creating some new models…also some key collaborative partnerships that would build on the partnerships we have developed with AISD to make their buildings more sustainable and now the city and the private sector are working together to really advance the development of downtown and make downtown a more self contained, more livable intercity and doing it in a way that both benefits the city and the private sector. That would be a real milestone for us.”
6. What would you say to other companies or other organizations to encourage them to partner with the Chapter?
“I think I would tell them that sustainability becomes more important every day. I think the Chapter represents the most thoughtful and successful players in the industry; on the development side, on the architecture side, on the design side, and on the construction side. It represents the people who are cognizant of their responsibilities to build today in a way that will provide the same opportunities to the generations of people who come after us. That is why it is important. We cannot consume more than our fair share of resources and the Chapter is helping us to understand how to do that.”
7. What else would you like to see the Chapter doing? In other words, where can the USGBC Chapter add more value for you as a partner?
“I see the primary role of the Chapter as reaching out to the industry and educating them about sustainability. I think the more of that that can be done, the better off we all are. It supports the work that we do and it supports the work of all the other private sector companies that our sponsors do. I think that is the most important thing; continuing to educate the industry and continuing to move us forward to a sustainable future.”