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Austin's Green Building Program: A Tool for Sustainable Development
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In a new approach to home rating systems, Austin's Green Building Program was designed in 1991 as a marketing approach to encourage builders, architects, and designers to incorporate sustainable building practices, systems, and materials into residential construction. A secondary goal of the program was to encourage "green" business development in the Austin area. A rating system of accumulated points translates to a "sustainability rating" of one to four stars. Four resource areas relating to the home are considered: water, energy, building materials, and solid waste. Seventeen criteria were used to develop points for more than 130 building options listed under the four categories. The criteria for evaluating the options included consideration of the source, process (i.e. from raw material to finished product), use, postlife (recyclability, disposal), integration (with other systems), and difficulty in offering the option. The options are presented in the Green Building Guide, which includes an overview of the program, a discussion of sustainability and local and regional resources, the rating worksheets, and a comprehensive glossary of terns. The Green Building Guide is supplemented by a Sustainable Building Sourcebook which gives more detailed design and source information for each option listed in the Guide. The Green Building Guide is being revised in a simpler format, and the marketing package is being evaluated based upon our experience of the past two years of program operation. The Green Building Program supports participants through general marketing and technical seminars. Response to the Green Building Program has indicated pent-up demand from the market for more environmentally sensitive building practices. Reaction from the building industry has shown a desire for a mechanism to present building and development in a more positive light to an environmentally aware public. The broad acceptance of this strategy was highlighted at the United Nations Conference for Environment and Development (UNCED), called the "Earth Summit," when the Green Building Program was selected as one of twelve finalists worldwide for the United Nations Local Government Honours Programme. The most recent of several awards was the Award for Innovation presented by the Association of Demand Side Management Professionals in November, 1993. This paper will follow the implementation and operation of the Green Building Program, with discussions on the successes, challenges, and modifications of the program since its introduction to the public in early 1992.
Seiter, D. L. (1994). Austin's Green Building Program: A Tool for Sustainable Development. Energy Systems Laboratory (http://esl.tamu.edu); Texas A&M University (http://www.tamu.edu). Available electronically from