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More sellers complying with Austin Energy audits

Friday, April 19, 2019 by Jessi Devenyns

When the city passed the Energy Conservation Audit and Disclosure Ordinance in 2008, Austin became the first city in the United States to require the seller of a home older than 10 years within the Austin Energy service area to disclose the energy consumption of the structure to potential buyers. Seeing it as a useful step toward conservation, plenty of other cities have begun to require a similar energy audit, but in Austin, Debbie Swank with Austin Energy explained that there are still issues with compliance. Chair Leo Dielmann of the Resource Management Commission lamented at the April 16 meeting, “We have no teeth when it comes to enforcement.” On the books, noncompliance with ECAD is a class C misdemeanor with fines of $500-$2,000. However, he added, “this is much greater (compliance) than any time we’ve seen in the past.” Single-family home compliance is at 60 percent, multifamily is at 78 percent and commercial is at 83 percent. Besides ensuring that sellers respect the ordinance, Swank said that the department has seen issues with quality inspections from auditors. She explained that “some of them find it as a box-checking exercise.” She noted that the department is working to be more diligent in its reviews of auditors’ work. As to whether the ordinance is making a difference in the city’s energy consumption, Denise Kuehn, director of energy efficiency services at Austin Energy, said that indeed it is. According to her, “It’s making a difference across the sectors.”

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