City of Austin Requires Energy Audit Before Property Sale
What is the Austin Energy Ordinance?
The Austin City Council approved the Austin Energy Conservation Audit and Disclosure Ordinance, which requires all residential properties to have an energy audit completed by a certified auditor before the property can be sold and closed. The Austin energy audit is required for properties 10 years or older, within the Austin city limits, and that receive services from the Austin Electric Utility.
What properties are effected by the new Austin Energy Audit Ordinance?
Austin Energy Audit Ordinance requirements differ by property type.
- Single-family (Residential) homes (four dwelling units or fewer)
- Multifamily (five dwelling units or more)
- Commercial (non-residential civic or commercial building, excluding industrial buildings)
Why was the new Austin Energy Ordinance passed?
The Austin City Council passed the new Austin Energy Ordinance to help meet one of the goals of the Austin Climate Protection Plan—offsetting 700 megawatts of peak Austin energy demand by the year 2020 and reducing the carbon footprint of the Austin, TX community.
When does the Energy Ordinance take effect in Austin, TX?
June 1, 2009, the new Austin Energy Audit Ordinance takes effect.
What do Austin homeowners need to do to meet the Austin Energy Ordinance requirements?
For owner of a single-family home in Austin, you need to do the following before you can sell and close the home:
- A single-family home has from one to four dwelling units.
- If the home is 10 years old or older, the owner needs to have an energy audit before selling it.
- The owner needs to give prospective buyers a copy of the energy audit before the time of sale.
- The owner needs to provide a copy of the energy audit to Austin Energy no later than 30 days after the audit is complete.
For owner of a multi-family property in Austin, you need to do the following before you can sell and close the property:
- A multifamily property has five or more dwelling units.
- If the property is at least 10 years old on June 1, 2009, the owner needs to have an energy audit performed no later than June 1, 2011.
- For other multifamily properties, the owner needs to have an energy audit performed no later than 10 years after construction was completed.
- The owner needs to post the results of the energy audit on a form and in locations set by rule.
- The owner needs to give current and prospective tenants the energy audit results.
- The owner needs to provide a copy of the audit to Austin Energy no later than 30 days after the audit is complete.
For owners of an Austin High-Energy-Use Facility:
- Regardless of the property’s age, if the average energy use per-square-foot exceeds 150% of the average for multifamily properties in Austin Energy’s service area, the owner will receive a notice about the property’s energy use from Austin Energy.
- If the owner receive a notice, the owner must make energy efficiency improvements to bring the property to 110% of the average no later than 18 months after receiving the notice.
- The owner may apply to Austin Energy within 90 days of the notice for additional time to complete improvements. If approved, the owner may enter into a contract with Austin Energy indicating the completion date for the improvements.
For owners of an Austin commercial property, you need to do the following before you can sell and close the property:
- If the building is at least 10 years old on June 1, 2009, the owner needs to calculate an energy use rating for the building no later than June 1, 2011.
- For all other commercial buildings, the owner needs to calculate an energy use rating for the building no later than 10 years after construction was completed.
- For all commercial buildings, the owner needs to use an audit or energy use rating system approved by Austin Energy.
- The owner needs to give prospective purchasers a copy of the energy rating before the time of sale.
- The owner needs to provide a copy of the energy rating to Austin Energy no later than 30 days after the audit is complete.
Are there exemptions to the Austin Energy requirement?
Yes. The Austin energy ordinance includes the following variances for single-family, multifamily, and commercial property:
- Austin Energy may grant a variance if a permit to substantially remodel or demolish a facility will be filed no later than six months after the time of sale.
- In case of a remodel, Austin Energy may grant a variance if the owner and purchaser have entered into a binding agreement approved by Austin Energy where the purchaser agrees to complete an energy audit within a specified period after the remodel is complete.
- Austin Energy may grant a variance for a commercial facility if it is a data center or other high energy use facility that cannot be adequately evaluated using currently available audit or rating tools.
- A person may seek a variance by filing an application with Austin Energy. Austin Energy may require the applicant to provide information necessary to evaluate the request.
Exemptions for Austin Single-Family Homes:
- The single-family home was constructed fewer than 10 years before the time of sale.
- Owners of the home participated in the Austin Energy Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® offering or an equivalent Austin Energy offering fewer than 10 years before the time of sale and either performed at least three energy efficiency measures or received a rebate of $500 or more.
- Owners of the home participated in the Austin Energy Free Weatherization offering or an equivalent Austin Energy offering fewer than 10 years before the time of sale.
- The purchaser of the home qualifies for and has signed an agreement with Austin Energy to participate in the Free Weatherization offering or an equivalent Austin Energy offering no later than six months after the sale.
- The home is manufactured housing built on a permanent chassis and designed to be used without a permanent foundation.
The Austin, TX energy ordinance does not apply to transfers of real residential property due to the following:
- Through a foreclosure sale, trustee’s sale, or a deed in lieu of foreclosure.
- Through a pre-foreclosure sale, where the seller has reached an agreement with the mortgage holder to sell the property for an amount less than the amount owed on the mortgage.
- Through the exercise of or threat of eminent domain.
- From one family member to another family member without consideration.
- Under a court order or probate proceedings.
- Under a decree of legal separation or dissolution of marriage or property settlement agreement incidental to such a decree.
The Austin energy ordinance does not apply to owners of multifamily property (five dwelling units or more), if one or more of the following is true:
- Comprehensive duct remediation work was completed on the property through an Austin Energy rebate offering within 10 years before June 1, 2009.
- HVAC equipment was replaced in all facility units through an Austin Energy rebate offering within 10 years before June 1, 2009.
- HVAC equipment was replaced in all facility units with equipment meeting Austin Energy rebate offering requirements within 10 years before June 1, 2009.
What are the penalties and enforcement for the Austin Ordinance?
The Austin ordinance includes the following penalties for single-family, multifamily, and commercial property.
A person commits a criminal offense if the person performs an act prohibited by the ordinance or fails to perform an act required by the ordinance. Each instance of a violation is a separate offense.
Each offense is subject to a fine:
- Proof of culpable mental state is not required for a fine of up to $500.
- If a person acts with criminal negligence, a fine of up to $2,000 may be assessed.
- Proof of a higher degree of culpability than criminal negligence constitutes proof of criminal negligence.
- Prosecution of an offense and enforcement of other remedies under this chapter are cumulative.
- The owner of the property is presumed to be responsible for violations of this ordinance that occur at a facility on the owner’s property.
How can I learn more about the Austin Energy Audit?
Read the Final Task Force Report (pdf) to fully understand all the requirements.
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