Austin Green Builder Program

In the 1980’s, Austin had a nationally recognized market-based energy conservation program. A call to the Center from the City’s Environmental Conservation Services Department in 1989 opened the door for the Center to introduce the idea to expand the successful energy conservation program to other resource areas—water, materials, and waste—reflecting a life cycle, systems-based resource flow model developed by the Center.  The resulting public-private partnership between the Center and the City of Austin, funded by Public Technology Inc’s. Energy Task Force, created the Austin Green Builder Program—to our knowledge, the first green building program in the world. The world, it seems in retrospect, was ready for this more systems-based, albeit simplified, market-ready approach. At the 1992 UN Earth Summit, the Austin Green Builder Program was recognized as one of twelve exemplary local environmental initiatives—the only recipient from the United States.  The following year, David Gottfried, Rick Fedrizzi, and Mike Italiano founded the U.S. Green Building Council, acknowledging Austin’s Green Building Program as one of the inspirations to establish a nationally-based organization to advance green building.  In just a few short years, green building had entered the public lexicon.  USGBC’s work on LEED™ (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) began in 1995, inspired by the Center’s conceptual framework that sparked Austin’s groundbreaking initiative.  And, as they say, the rest is history.

CLIENT: City of Austin, Texas
FUNDING: City of Austin, Texas; The Urban Consortium, Public Technology Inc.
PROJECT TEAM: Pliny Fisk III, Rich MacMath, Gail Vittori; in collaboration with City of Austin staff: W. Laurence Doxsey, Michael Myers, Doug Seiter