The Austin Green Building Program: an analysis of the program's effectiveness
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Current water shortages in the United States and Texas are expected to only worsen so that by 2050, approximately 40% of both U.S. and Texas residents will live in areas of water scarcity (U.S. House Committee, 2003; Texas Water Development Board, 2003). In response to these grim projections, both lawmakers and environmentalists are calling for conservation measures so that future shortages or costly new supply initiatives are avoided. One area where substantial consumption decreases could be made is the municipal sector, which is projected to account for 35% of all water consumed in Texas by 2050 (Texas Water Development Board, 2002). Both organizations and voluntary programs have been established to reduce water consumption in this area. One of the largest and most innovative programs in the state is the Austin Green Building Program (AGBP). It was the first program of its kind in the U.S. that rates new homes and remodels in regards to five categories related to sustainability: energy efficiency, water efficiency, materials efficiency, health and safety and community (City of Austin, 2001). This research identified the factors (weather, home size, lot size, appraised value, and existence of a pool) that effect water consumption for residences qualifying as "Austin Green Homes", and identified those green features or designs that had the greatest effect on water consumption, that were most commonly included, and the reasons why contractors incorporated them. Non-green features such as temperature, rainfall, home and lot size, appraised value and a pool seemed to have the greatest impact on water consumption, from an analysis of R2 values, albeit a positive relation for each variable. When green features were investigated, findings showed that different features were effective in reducing water consumption for different builders and in many cases, water-conserving features actually led to increased use. Finally, results showed that large builders incorporated fewer water-related green features in their homes and achieved lower star ratings in general than small green builders.
residential green building programs
Tinker, Audrey Kristen (2003). The Austin Green Building Program: an analysis of the program's effectiveness. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Texas A&M University. Available electronically from