Point of Sale Energy Efficiency Requirement

Posted Apr 10, 2008

I’m typically a really big fan of how green Austin is.  Austin Energy offers some of the best incentives in the nation to its customers, the general public supports green projects, there’s a big awareness of green building, etc…

However, the city of Austin is discussing issuing an ordinance to mandate energy efficiency levels of all properties in Austin.  This includes single family homes built in 1920, to homes built yesteryear.  This is part of the Mayor’s Climate Protection Plan.

So…the Austin Board of Realtors has an advisor sitting on the committee, and he/she has reported back that it looks very strong that the committee will recommend enforcing this at point of sale.  Before someone can sell their home, they will be required to pass an energy efficiency inspection.  Basically, it’s similar to emission inspections – it’s an absolute requirement.

This has big implications to homeowners in Austin.  Without a certificate of compliance filed prior to closing, the property can’t legally be sold.  Expenses will vary from home to home, but typically, a home that doesn’t pass will require $1500 – $10k in retrofits in order to obtain it’s certificate.

The shear volume of home sales is a big problem with this plan.  There are roughly 25k properties sold in Austin annually.  So….expect 25k inspections.  If half of the homes fail, and a reinspection is required – increase that number to 37,500 inspections.  Is the city ready for this?  Who will take care of it – the city, or will local contractors have to be licensed to perform the inspections?

I’m not a fan of “big brother” government in the least.  Up to this point, the city of Austin has done a damn fine job rewarding those who want to go greener by offering incentives.  If this new ordinance comes through in this incarnation, and passes, I see big problems.  I see lawsuits.


  1. Ki says:

    This will be a mess. I like incentives to help homeowners become energy efficient. But this plan seems a little bizarre. We are dealing with a homeowner now that is selling their home because they can no longer make payments. If this plan was in place these people would almost certainly face foreclosure. Its sad because in the past Austin’s green programs were always positive and based on incentives.

  2. Planner says:

    But, this would be considered a taking because government cannot prohibt the sale of private property or limit it in this manner. What I mean to say is, you can sell a contaminated piece of land if you have a buyer. I get the intent and that’s great, but you cannot require it to be able to sell a property.
    Also, historical designtations could be lost if one is required to put in double-pane windows into a historical home or other upgrades that diminish the historical value of the property. I’m sure there will be ways around the ordinance or at a minimum it would be overturned by a court.

  3. Sam Chapman says:

    What I am not hearing anything about is how much stuff that is being replaced for the upgrades will go into landfills. This is just one more thing to show the mayor’s and the council’s idiocy.

  4. Rachel says:

    Great thought Sam, I am all for the green projects, but there needs to be limits, not laws. It is not right to ask people who are barely scrapping by to upgrade their home. There needs to be an incentive for doing so, whether it is in taxes or some other form.

  5. Miami web design says:

    While I am a big fan of going green, this sounds like a way to make $ on us all. With 25k homes sold, and the price varying from 1.5 to 10k, this will create a huge market for “eco inspectors”. Just wait till they require those inspectors to pass a new and unique course that will make them certified – and not for free, that’s for sure. I know it might be pessimistic, but it seems that once again several big companies backed up by city officials will get 95% of the market. A market created only for them to earn $.
    Ethics in this country has gone down the drain a long time ago, yet I am constantly amazed how low some people will go…

  6. Trent says:

    Agreed Rachel! green projects are almost ‘always’ something that will benefit ‘all’ sides…. but with the economic situation right now, a lot can no longer afford what they usually can…

  7. This is being discussed statewide in Califronia as well. There is a bill in the legislature to do something similar. I am not sure how much support there is for this statewide. I do understand that there may be some lenders that are considering lowering interest rates or offering other incentives if a home is very energy efficient.

    I think a POS requirement will be very costly and slow the home buying process down. Offer incentives and other ways to help make homes more efficient.

  8. EPC says:

    Here in the UK all domestic properties marketed for sale need a Home Information Pack.

    As part of that you require anEPC
    – energy performance certificate. This is certainly a worthwhile exercise and is getting people to look at the energy performance of their properties. In europe 27% of energy consumption is through domestic properties.

    See my blog

  9. Simon Slade says:

    I am all for energy efficiency but I believe that individuals need to make the move themselves to become ‘green’ otherwise it would be difficult to sustain long term. Government incentives could help this attitude change but laws would only make people resentful towards it.

  10. Ann says:

    It will take some type of major crisis for people to realize that their current actions are negatively affecting the environment.

  11. Mortgage says:

    This might seem like a way for them to make money off going green, but what alternative do we have? Something like China’s environmental policy where everything can be purchase for the right amount. You still recall the US Olympic team wearing facing masks as they arriving in China.

  12. James Marcus says:

    Thanks for share and info

  13. Green housing is taking off in the east valley of Phoenix. Several new home builders build nothing else

  14. So far in Southern California we have not seen any new Green requirements on resales which have substantially affected our sale practices. The new homes have many more of these regulations.

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