Energy Conservation Audit and Disclosure (ECAD) FAQs
- What is a single-family home?
The Energy Conservation Audit and Disclosure (ECAD) ordinance defines a single-family home as having fewer than five dwelling units.
- If I get my electricity from Austin Energy but live outside the city limits, do I need an ECAD audit?
No. The ordinance applies only to properties both in Austin and that receive electricity from Austin Energy.
- Is my condominium affected by the ordinance?
Yes. Individual owners selling their Condominium must have an energy audit under the ECAD ordinance.
- How old must my home be to require an ECAD audit if I sell it?
Single-family homes 10 years or older may require an ECAD audit before
- When do I need to have the energy audit done?
Home sellers are required to provide a copy of the ECAD audit to the buyer three days before the end of the option period as a minimum. The City and Austin Board of REALTORS® recommends the energy audit be conducted far enough in advance to meet this requirement.
- Do I need an energy audit if I am selling a property with multiple units
and state law doesn’t require an option period?
Yes. If there isn’t an option period in the sales contract, property seller is required to provide the energy audit to the property buyer before the contract is executed.
- What does the ECAD audit report include?
The ECAD audit report includes the condition and estimated R-value of the attic insulation, the percentage of air leakage through the duct system, the number of windows with direct sunlight for at least an hour a day, and the energy-efficiency rating of the air-conditioning equipment. It also includes suggestions for improving the home’s energy efficiency.
- What must I provide to a potential home buyer to show that I had an
Home sellers should be prepared to provide details pertaining to their exemption or provide a copy of the ECAD audit three days before the end of the option period or at the time a contract is executed if there is no option period.
- What energy-efficiency improvements qualify the home for an exemption from the ECAD ordinance?
The single-family home is exempt from an ECAD audit if it meets any one of the following conditions. Within 10 years before the sale, the home received:
- What can I provide a potential home buyer to show that I completed energy-efficiency improvements?
Austin Energy provides homeowners with information about the energy-efficiency improvements a home has received through Austin Energy programs. To assist homeowners with past program history, call 974-7827 or email Austin Energy with the home’s address and their telephone number.
- Does the ECAD ordinance require that I provide a potential home buyer with monthly electricity bills?
No. The ECAD ordinance does not require home sellers to provide utility bills to home buyers. The only required document is the ECAD audit, unless the home has a variance or an exemption. Providing a home buyer with past electricity bills does not replace the required ECAD audit.
- My home had an energy “audit” and I made energy-efficiency improvements within 10 years after the audit. How can I get these improvements on record with the City of Austin?
Austin Energy keeps records of energy-efficiency improvements made by registered Austin Energy contractors when energy loans or rebates.
- Is my home exempt from the ECAD ordinance if I implemented energy-efficiency measures without participating in an Austin Energy residential energy-efficiency program?
Only improvements made through the Austin Energy Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® program or an equivalent Austin Energy program can exempt your home from the ECAD ordinance. The quality of materials and methods can be ensured only if the work is performed under the guidelines of an Austin Energy program.
- If a house is scheduled for demolition by a new owner, does it need an ECAD audit before the sale?
The home may receive a variance if a variance request is submitted to Austin Energy prior to the time of sale and the new owner applies no later than six months after the sale for a City permit to demolish the home.
- If the home buyer plans to substantially remodel the home, does it need an ECAD audit before the sale?
The home may receive a variance if the buyer applies no later than six months after the sale for a building permit to substantially remodel the home. The seller and buyer must submit a variance request and enter into a binding agreement where the buyer agrees to complete an ECAD audit no later than six months after the remodel.
- Can I use the energy audit by a third party to close out my City building permit when I installed a my new central HVAC system when I sell my home as the ECAD audit?
No. The energy audit required to close out a City building permit does require scientific testing but doesn’t include all the same information such as insulation, solar shading, or appliance information. However many of those third party energy code performance testers are also registered to perform ECAD audits so you could have them do both during the same visit (additional charges may apply).
- Can I use a multi-family energy audit done for condominium owners association when I sell my condo unit?
Yes, if there is one available for the entire property.
- Is my condo unit exempt from the ECAD audit if the condominium owners association participated in the Austin Energy multi-family program’s duct sealing or HVAC upgrades throughout the entire property?
Yes. If the entire property meets the multi-family exemption for duct sealing or replacing all HVAC equipment for all units onsite each would exempt each individual condo unit.
- How do I apply for a variance to the ECAD ordinance?
View the Variance Application for Residence Demolition.
View the Variance Application for Residence Substantial Remodel.
To apply for a variance, submit a Variance Application by email, or print out an ECAD Variance Application and send it to the Director of Energy Efficiency Services, Austin Energy, 811 Barton Springs Road, Third Floor, Austin, TX 78704.
- What if I sell the house without having an audit?
Non-compliance with the ECAD ordinance is a Class C misdemeanor and fines of up to $500 and $2,000. Reported violations will be forwarded to the City of Austin Legal Department for review and action.
- How many homes does the ECAD ordinance affect?
It is estimated the about 3,000 homes each year.
- Who performs the ECAD audit?
The ECAD audit must be performed by an auditor who is a certified Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) Rater or a Building Performance Institute (BPI) Building Analyst Professional. Austin Energy maintains a Web-based list of certified ECAD auditors who have registered with Austin Energy. In addition to being certified, these auditors attend an Austin Energy orientation to understand the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® Program and standards.
- How long does an ECAD home audit generally take?
An ECAD audit takes about two hours for an average 1,800 square foot home and one hour per thousand square feet.
- What home components does an ECAD auditor evaluate?
The ECAD auditor evaluates the home’s windows, window shading, attic insulation, air conditioning and heating system, low flow toilets, and the air duct system.
- What information is included in the ECAD home audit report?
The ECAD audit report for a single-family home includes:
- Attic insulation’s condition and estimated R-value.
- Percentage of air leakage from the duct system.
- Number of windows receiving more than one hour of direct sunlight.
- Estimated air conditioning system EER (Energy Efficiency Rating) value and general condition of the mechanical system.
- Recommendations for improving the home’s energy efficiency.
- What does the ECAD audit report look like?
The ECAD audit is a multi page form that includes the evaluation of the audited home components, recommendations for energy-efficiency upgrades, and information about Austin Energy loan and rebate programs.
- How much does an ECAD home audit cost?
The ECAD audit was designed to keep the cost under $300 for a typical single-family home 1,800 square feet or smaller with a single air-conditioning system. Auditors set their own prices, which depend on the size of the home.
- What is the difference between the required ECAD audit and the free energy analysis available through the Austin Energy Power Saver™ Program?
ECAD audits are required by City Code 6-7 for homes that do not meet any of the exemptions or variances. All ECAD audits are conducted by energy professionals certified as a BPI Building Analyst or a RESNET Home Energy Rater. Home performance companies performing “free home energy analysis” for Austin Energy’s Power Saver™ Program to recommend energy efficiency improvements that would exempt the property from the City code. A list of Home Performance Companies can be found on the Austin Energy web site as Power Saver™ Program participating companies.
- What is Austin Energy’s role with the ECAD audits and the ECAD ordinance?
Austin Energy verifies that ECAD auditors are certified as RESNET Raters or BPI Building Analyst Professionals registers them to be listed as ECAD auditors. Austin Energy also collects and maintains ECAD audit records.
- Where are the results of the ECAD audits stored?
ECAD auditors provide audit results to Austin Energy, which maintains a record of each audit for the City of Austin.
- What qualifies an ECAD auditor to perform energy audits under the ECAD ordinance?
ECAD auditors must be certified by the Building Performance Institute (BPI) or the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET). For more information about becoming an ECAD auditor, please call 974-7827 or email Austin Energy.
- How do energy auditors get certified to conduct ECAD audits?
First, they must complete the BPI Building Analyst Professional or the RESNET Home Energy Rater certification . With one or both certifications they can then register with Austin Energy to perform energy audits under ECAD.
- Who provides the preparatory training for certifications?
You can find lists of training providers at the web sites of the certifying organizations: the Building Performance Institute (BPI) and the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET).
View BPI training providers.
View RESNET training providers.
- How long does the training take?
The preparatory training usually takes up to five days depending on the training provider. The training includes both classroom and field training.
- How much does the preparatory training cost?
BPI and RESNET training, testing, and certification costs are available from the training providers.
- Can non-certified auditors perform ECAD audits if they work under a certified auditor?
No. All ECAD auditors must be BPI or RESNET certified and perform the audits themselves.
- How do I know that an energy auditor has the required certification?
Property owners may check the certifying organizations web sites or ask ECAD auditors to show their BPI or RESNET certification documents.
- Do ECAD auditors have to get additional certifications to perform ECAD audits for multifamily properties?
No. ECAD auditors can perform audits for single-family and multifamily properties. However, some may choose to specialize in only one by attending a specific AE orientation session.
- Do ECAD auditors have to get additional certifications to perform ECAD audits for commercial buildings?
No. Commercial buildings only need to have a benchmark energy rating. Building owners can choose to consult with ECAD auditors with calculating benchmark energy rating for their building or campus and exploring energy improvement opportunities, but are not a required.
- Do ECAD auditors need special audit software, thermal imaging capabilities, and blower door testing equipment?
ECAD auditors need a duct testing equipment to measure duct leakage. BPI or RESNET may identify other equipment and software needed to meet their certification requirements.
- Are ECAD auditors required to perform a duct blower test?
Yes. ECAD auditors need to perform a duct blower test to determine duct system leakage.
- What energy-efficiency improvements might be needed under the ECAD ordinance?
The ECAD ordinance does not require single-family homes to make energy-efficiency improvements. However, certain improvements made through the Austin Energy Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® program or an equivalent Austin Energy program can exempt the home from the ECAD audit. These improvements include: increasing attic insulation to R38; installing solar screens, solar film, or low-E windows; adding radiant barriers in the attic; replacing or insulating ducts; reducing air infiltration and sealing ducts; and installing new qualifying HVAC systems.
- Does Austin Energy offer any rebates or assistance for making energy-efficiency improvements?
Austin Energy offers a variety of energy-efficiency programs that include rebates for owners of residential, multifamily, and commercial buildings.
- How do I apply for rebates or loans?
For information about applying for rebates, see Austin Energy’s Energy Efficiency Programs and Offerings. Customers can also call a participating company and request a free energy analysis and bid for energy-efficiency improvements.
- What is a multifamily property?
The Energy Conservation Audit and Disclosure (ECAD) ordinance defines a multifamily property as a property with five or more dwelling units.
- Does my condominium have to comply with this ordinance?
Yes. Condominium and town homes must have an energy audit under the ECAD ordinance. Only owners of 5 or more condominium units at one site must have a ECAD multi-family energy audit and follow those disclosure guidelines.
- When does Austin Energy plan to complete gathering data on per-square-foot energy use in multifamily properties?
Austin Energy has preliminary information now but expects to set the average per-square-foot-area energy use for multifamily properties in the 3rd quarter of 2011.
- How do I make the per-square-foot energy use of my multifamily property available to the public?
The ECAD ordinance requires posting results of the ECAD audit at the property and providing them to current and prospective tenants.
- What is a high energy-use multifamily property?
A multifamily property is considered high energy-use if its per-square-foot energy use exceeds 150% of the average energy use of multifamily properties within the same category in the Austin Energy service area.
- What do I need to do if the multifamily property I own is a high energy-use property?
Austin Energy will notify owners if their multifamily property is a high energy-use property. Owners must then complete the energy-efficiency retrofits needed to reduce the properties per-square-foot energy usage by 20%.
- How much time do I have to make the necessary upgrades to reduce the average per-square-foot energy usage by 20%?
Owners have 18 months from the date of the notification to make energy-efficiency improvements, or they may request for an extension within 90 days of receiving notice.
- What are the most common cost-effective upgrades for a multifamily property?
The most common cost-effective upgrades include air duct sealing, attic insulation, and solar screens or window film. Austin Energy has rebates and low cost loans for owners to improve the multifamily property’s energy efficiency.
- What are the required energy efficiency improvements for multi-family properties?
Only high energy use properties are required to bring their attic insulation up to R-30, install solar shades or solar film on windows that receive more than one hour of sunlight a day, seal their air duct systems, and replace incandescent lighting. Windows replacement, HVAC replacement, and major deconstruction cannot be required.
- Are there recommended packages to achieve the 20% reduction?
Each property has unique requirements but Austin Energy will work with the property owners on recommendations to achieve the 20% savings.
- Do I need and energy audit for the condos I own that are rented but not for sale?
Only if you own five (5) or more at one property or if you are selling them.
- Can ECAD auditors perform audits for both single-family homes and multifamily properties?
Yes. They are qualified to audit both, but may choose to specialize in only one property type.
- How do I determine my commercial building’s energy benchmark?
Building owners should determine their energy use benchmark score by using the approved rating system, Portfolio Manager from ENERGY STAR®. This system is accessible through Internet Explorer 9 and up, Firefox 16 and up, or Chrome 10 and up.
- In Portfolio Manager, you may select from one of these building types:
- These building types will receive an Energy Performance Rating, a score between 1 and 100 which indicates the overall energy use of the building compared to similar buildings. Factors such as weather and operating hours are part of the calculation.
- All buildings will receive a Current Site Energy Intensity (in kBtu per sq. ft.) benchmark calculation from Portfolio Manager even if the building or campus doesn’t receive a rating score.
Building owners or their representatives must submit their building’s Energy Performance Rating score and/or a Current Site Energy Intensity.
- How do I submit a rating?
Portfolio Manager will give a benchmark rating score between 1 and 100 which indicates the overall energy use of the building compared to similar buildings. It also benchmarks the building by energy usage per square foot.
Starting in February of each reporting year, a reporting link will be posted on the Austin Energy ECAD Commercial reporting page. By clicking on the link, you can login to Portfolio Manager which will allow you to release your building rating to Austin Energy. Submissions prior to that date are not available.
For more information, visit ECAD Ordinance for Commercial Owners—Compliance Reporting Options
- What information do I need to enter into Portfolio Manager?
Portfolio Manager uses building-sector specific inputs, such as square feet, the different uses of the building, operating hours, the number of workers on the main shift and the number of computers, along with utility use, to normalize against national data for climate from the Commercial Building Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS) data.
- What if Portfolio Manager can’t score my building?
Portfolio Manager may not be able to score some commercial facilities but it will benchmark every building type. If it can’t produce a score, Portfolio Manager displays a reason and building owners still need to provide the Current Site Energy Intensity in kBtu/sq. ft. benchmark to Austin Energy.
- What is the time frame for rating my commercial building?
All non-manufacturing buildings must submit an energy benchmark rating to the City of Austin annually by June 1st, with a start date listed below depending on the size of the building:
|If your building square footage is
||Report annually starting in year
|75,000 or higher
|30,000 or higher
|10,000 or higher
- Do I need to rate my building if I rated it last year and submitted it to Austin Energy.
Yes. You must rate your building annually from the initial reporting date. Each rating must be done in the calendar year in which it is required.
- Is the variance submitted for my High Energy Use building still valid?
No. All buildings can be rated with a kBtu benchmark through Portfolio Manager which must be submitted to Austin Energy.
- Is my industrial building exempt?
No. Only buildings that qualify for a tax exemption from the State of Texas for manufacturing are not required to rate their building. The tax exemption for electricity must also be filed with Austin Energy.
- When do I have to disclose the building rating to the buyer of my commercial property?
The Building rating must be disclosed to the buyer before the sales contract is executed. You may transfer the building profile to the buyer.
- Am I required to provide Austin Energy with a copy of the rating?
Yes. Commercial building owners must report their rating. Austin Energy reserves the right to request additional details to verify the inputs.
- Is there a minimum rating required for commercial buildings?
No. Commercial building owners need only to report the rating. However, City Council has set voluntary goals for commercial buildings to improve their energy-efficiency rating.
If your score is…
75 or higher
(no action necessary)
Raise the score to 75
Raise the score by 20%
Raise the score to 50
- Are commercial buildings that do not meet the minimum rating required to make energy-efficiency upgrades?
No. Energy-efficiency upgrades are not required. The City has set voluntary energy efficiency goals for commercial buildings. Austin Energy supports the city’s goals for energy efficiency by encouraging participation in its commercial energy-efficiency programs.
- Does Austin Energy plan to make the rating of commercial buildings available to the public?
No. However the Austin City Code requirements and some information may be subject to open records requests.
- If I own a commercial building, but the tenant pays the utility bills and maintains the building, am I required to report the building’s rating?
Yes. The building owner is responsible for rating the building.
- If I maintain the commercial building and pay the utility bills, but do not own the building, am I required to report the building’s rating?
No. The building owner is responsible for rating their building. Tenants should cooperate with building owners in the rating of the buildings.
- My commercial building is served by a master meter with other facilities; there is no sub-metering to determine my building’s actual use. How can I rate my building?
Owners should rate the property as a “campus” including all buildings served by a single meter.
- Does anyone review my rating inputs for accuracy or compliance?
Austin Energy reserves the right to randomly audit commercial building ratings.
- The energy rating systems use Commercial Building Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS) data. What if updates to CBECS data cause my energy rating to drop below 50? Do I need to take action?
No. The energy-efficiency goals are voluntary. Austin Energy supports the city’s energy-efficiency goals by encouraging participation in its commercial energy-efficiency programs.
- I own several commercial buildings. Can I rate and report them as one portfolio?
Building owners must rate each commercial building individually. However, Portfolio Manager lets them create and manage a portfolio of multiple buildings.
- I don’t have access to my natural gas bills. Does this invalidate my rating?
Yes. Portfolio Manager requires accurate ratings on all fuel sources including natural gas, solar, chilled water, etc.
- Does it impact the rating if my building is only partly occupied?
Yes, building/space occupancy is taken into consideration in the Portfolio Manager rating.
- What happens when occupancy changes within a year? Does that make it impossible to obtain a rating?
Portfolio Manager lets users adjust occupancy as it changes, allowing for a rating when occupancy is not static. It is still possible to rate the building.
- Does Austin Energy provide automatic electric utility uploads to my Portfolio Manager account?
No, Austin Energy is not working with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at this time.
- Does Texas Gas Service provide automatic updates for my Portfolio Manager account?
No, at this point, Austin Energy is unaware of plans for this service. Gas data must be entered manually.
- What do I need to do if my commercial building has not yet been required to submit a rating and I decide to sell it?
It is the seller’s responsibility to report the building’s energy rating to Austin Energy and share the score with potential buyers.
- Does Portfolio Manager let me transfer my building rating to the new owner?
- Are buildings owned by the State of Texas required to comply with the ECAD ordinance?
- Do buildings leased to the State need to be rated?
- Are university buildings required to comply with the ECAD ordinance?
State universities, such as the University of Texas, are not required to comply with the ECAD ordinance. Private universities are required to comply with the ECAD ordinance.
- Do I need to report "Parking Garage"?
No, because it is not an enclosed area. However, you may wish to include it as part of the total square feet of a site associated with a master meter.
- If I have a vacant facility/space, how can I enter it in Portfolio Manager?
If the facility/space is vacant with no energy use, you will enter the energy usage as "0" (zero) kWh for that facility/space.