• 2016 SA Tomorrow Sustainability Awards

    The City of San Antonio’s Office of Sustainability is excited to announce the 2nd Annual SA Tomorrow Sustainability Awards, an event showcasing breakthroughs and innovations addressing the three pillars of sustainability – social, economic and environmental. Previously known as the Green Building Awards, the SA Tomorrow Sustainability Awards spotlight the City of San Antonio’s SA Tomorrow initiative.

    The SA Tomorrow Sustainability Awards will honor individuals, programs, projects and building structures that promote sustainability through engagement with the people who use it and the environment that surrounds it. The awards feature categories for new commercial and residential construction and retrofit projects. The City of San Antonio has expanded the timeframe of eligible projects and structures initiated or constructed between Jan. 1, 2010 and Dec. 31, 2015.

    Nominations are now open! 

    To Apply, please choose a nomination category from the list below, download and fill out the form, and submit it no later than August 26th, 2016. Directions for how to submit and any additional information you will need are provided on the forms.

    SA Tomorrow is a three-plan approach to guide San Antonio toward smart, sustainable growth with efforts to preserve our resources and quality of life. The initiative aims to address issues of importance to the entire community including air and water quality, energy efficiency, transportation, jobs and housing through the following plans: the Comprehensive Plan, the Sustainability Plan and the Multimodal Transportation Plan.

    For more information on the SA Tomorrow Sustainability Awards, contact Douglas Melnick, Office of Sustainability at (210) 207-1721 or by email at douglas.melnick@sanantonio.gov.


    Organizational Practitioner Nomination

    Individual Practitioner Nomination

    Project Nomination

    Bill Sinkin Solar Technology Nomination

    Sustainable Programs Nomination

  • Being Smart About Solar

    Before going solar…. consider these points


    So…. you’re thinking of going solar. Congratulations! It’s a big step, and a worthy one.

    By embracing solar power, you help reduce the load on our local energy grid, which cuts down on air polluting emissions and helps us avoid or delay the need to build another power plant. You also offset—perhaps even eliminate—your electricity bill. In short, going solar is good for the planet, good for the community and good for you.

    Your local public electric and gas utility, CPS Energy, has approved an additional $30 million of the community’s dollars for solar rebates. Additionally, Federal government will be offering a 30% Investment Tax Credit until 2020. Being educated so you can choose the best solar option for you means that we can utilize the rebates so that more people can access solar and its myriad benefits. CPS Energy has just implemented some important measures to help protect the safety of customers in the market for solar. However, like any major investment, it’s a important to be well informed about what your options are and what you are purchasing.

    In the spirit of good stewardship, Build San Antonio Green has assembled the following considerations to help you become well-informed about solar. If you want to learn more about how solar technology works, visit the “Solar 101” section of our website, buildsagreen.org.

    1. What size system is right for me?

    Deciding what size system depends on what you would like to accomplish. If you are really into solar and want to do your part to help reduce demand for the community, you may want to have the most solar you can get. If you are looking to reduce your utility bill to save some money, then that is likely not your best option.

    For most people, an ideal solar array would produce just enough power to wipe out their electricity bill on an annual basis. Doing so can still benefit the community by not using valuable power from the grid (and delaying or avoiding the need to build more power plants), and by helping you personally to save money. Look at your electricity bill – how many kilowatt-hours (kWh) did you consume last year? That is the maximum amount of electricity your system should produce to be most efficient.

    When you consume your own solar power to zero out your bill, your local utility pays you approximately $0.098/kWh.* But when you produce excess power and sell it back to the utility, the rate drops to $0.0169/kWh. The most efficient scenario is to buy a solar array that produces just enough power to eliminate your electricity bill.

    In short, bigger is not necessarily better. Keep in mind that a bigger system always entails more upfront costs. So optimize the system size based on your goals, consumption, and budget.

    If your goal is to save some money, then it’s also a good idea to investigate getting an energy audit for your home. You can find a local energy rater who will help you determine how energy efficient your home is. The more efficient your home before you add solar, the smaller system you will need to zero out your bill. It may be more cost effective to take some measures to make your home more efficient and then add a smaller system, decreasing your upfront costs. CPS Energy even offers various rebates for energy efficiency upgrades. Check out www.cpsenergy.com to see if you qualify.


    1.  How do I know if I have the ideal conditions for solar?

    Most smart phones have an integrated compass. Use yours to find the orientation of your rooftop. You can compare what you find with your installer and even ask your installer what the difference in production would be if you had a south-facing roof. East-west facing systems produce 12-15% less energy than south facing ones. If your installer provides a production estimate and return on investment calculation, make sure the estimate for the system is modeled according to your roof orientation and not the ideal south facing ones.

    1. Six hours of sun per day, every day is the industry standard for maximum Return on Investment (ROI.)

    Is your roof so situated that it receives six hours of sun per day, every day, every season? The peak solar window is 10am to 4pm every day all year. Does your roof have six hours of uninterrupted sun?

    If not, your production will be lower and the payback longer. Also, make sure to be aware of any shading issues your roofs might have, whether it is shading from any surrounding trees, or shading from a chimney. A quick look at satellite imagery of your home would be a good place to start. Installers have equipment that is capable of assessing shading patterns at any proposed roof site. Work with your installer so you do not place panels on any shaded areas. It would be a disservice to have a large system, but have half of it covered in shade. And it would mean that you will not meet your maximum production and ROI.



    1. Are high efficient (HE) panels better?

    It may seem logical to have the most highly efficient (HE) solar panels. But again, this depends on your goals. The HE panels cost more.Compare the cost increase to the production increase. Are the panels worth the extra cost? If your goal is to produce as much energy as possible and cost is not a factor, then the HE panels could be right for you. But if you are considering the upfront costs and long term ROI, then they may not offer the best long-term investment.

    As a side note, keep in mind that if you are going after the CPS rebate, all equipment chosen must be new and listed on the California Energy Commission list of approved modules and inverters, which can be found on the CPS Energy website. When you buy a new car with a V8, you can pop the hood to see the engine. How do you pop the hood on a solar project? Ask for the bill of material and check the serial numbers. Make sure you receive the equipment you were promised.

    1. How do I know if I’m getting the best price for my system?

    The solar industry, like many others, has some less-than-reputable businesses. In order to make an informed decision about which installer is right for you, do some research. Rather than going with the first installer you call or find, get several quotes from a few installers. CPS Energy keeps a list of approved installers which you can find on their website. Make sure the installers you are considering are listed.

    1. Get details on the warranties, including one for your roof.

    Installing a solar system will require that holes be drilled in your roof. It’s a good idea to ask your installer if they will guarantee that your roof, built to last 20 – 30 years, won’t be harmed or leak as a result of the installation.

    If you are planning on accessing the CPS Energy Rebate, CPS Energy has certain requirements for warranties. They require that all installed PV systems carry a five-year warranty from the installer. Solar modules must carry a 20-year warranty from the manufacturer, and inverters (the piece of necessary gear in any solar system that converts direct current from the sun to useable alternating current that can be absorbed into the grid and your home) must carry at least a five-year manufacturer’s warranty without battery back-up.


    Know your guarantees and warranties before signing any contracts, and factor them into the ROI of your system.

    The decision to go solar is exciting, and worthy, but it’s also a big financial decision. Being well-informed about your options and working with your installer to make the right choices for your situation and goals is the best way to get the most from your investment. We know you are super excited to get that solar system, but make sure you manage your expectations. Ask your installer about their process and an estimate of when your system should be online.

    *All prices estimates as of March 1, 2016.

    Contributors to this article include: Monika Maeckle, Jacob Eyer, and Kate Rodriguez 

    Solar Links

    Interested in Learning about Solar Options and Getting 3 Free Quotes? Visit our program site: BringSolarHome.com

    About How Solar Works

    CPS Energy Solar Info

    CPS Energy Rebate Info 

  • 2016 Green Home Tour

    SAT. June 11th

    11 AM to 5 PM

    About the Tour

    This June Build San Antonio Green will be holding our annual “Green Home Tour.”

    The Green Home Tour is the only exclusively “green” tour of homes in our community – each of the homes featured on the tour has been officially certified green by our award-winning green building program, joining the ranks of the over 5000 homes we have certified to date.


    Located throughout the central San Antonio Corridor, the homes on this year’s tour are an eclectic mix of historic, new construction, and retrofit. Guided by our mobile tour brochure, you will have the opportunity to see how beautiful design and efficient features blend seamlessly in each of these green homes.


    As you visit the neighborhoods of Olmos Park, Dignawitty Hill, and Lavaca, you will see energy efficient technologies and practices at work. You will have the unique opportunity to speak with the builders, developers, architects, and vendors who worked to make these homes efficient. Not only that but many of the home owners will also be present to answer questions about the performance of their home, and why the chose to build or own a green home.


    This year’s tour will feature between 6 and 9 homes. Builders included this year are, CVF Homes, Varga Endeavors, & PSW Homes. The tour offers more than just the opportunity to see inside these beautiful efficient homes, but the additional chance to take an up close look at the infill and revitalization efforts taking place in some of San Antonio’s oldest communities.


  • Brady Colt Custom Homes

    “San Antonio Custom Home Builder providing excellent custom homes in San Antonio and surrounding areas.”

    22211 IH 10 West STE. 1206

    San Antonio, TX 78257

    Tel: 210-279-5367



  • SPARC Party 2016!

    Build San Antonio Green is proud to announce the 2016 Sustainable, Progressive, and Renewable City Party!

    If you you joined us last year you experienced the fun and excitement of being a kid again at the DoSeum. This year we are taking up a notch and moving the party to Yanaguana Park at Hemisfair! Join us for an evening outside and under the Tower of the Americas as we celebrate another year of accomplishments in sustainability. While you’re there you will have the chance to play in the park, enjoy live entertainment by the splash pad, grab a drink and learn about the origins of the park’s design and future plans for rest of Hemisfair. That’s not all though, this year our prestigious honors are returning to this event! Our Executive Director, Anita Ledbetter, will guide us through our vision of the future of San Antonio in the revitalized park that our founder Bill Sinkin helped to create.

    When is it you say? The SPARC party is slated for Thursday, April 14th. That’s right, opening night of Fiesta! While we are not an official fiesta event, we thought it was the perfect way to kick off Fiesta by celebrating the sustainable, progressive, and renewable city that we are working hard to build. And who knows, with your help we could be the best un-official fiesta event in 2016! Let’s make it happen!

    Not sure what the SPARC party is? Build San Antonio Green has held an annual gala for many years. That event was designed to showcase some of the best work in the green building industry. Last year we merged with our sister organization and decided we were about so much more than just green building. And so was born the Sustainable, Progressive, and Renewable City party, or SPARC. In addition to celebrating our accomplishments and honoring local builders and leaders for their work toward achieving that dream, the SPARC party is also our annual fundraiser. The proceeds from the party go toward helping Build San Antonio Green continue to provide valuable services like the Green Building Program and Bring Solar Home. It also allows us to provide awesome events and workshops like SA Next, The Green Home Tour, and Solar Fest. So come “Capture the Power” with us and buy your tickets today!


    Evening Agenda

    6:30 PM – Cocktail Hour

    7:45 PM – Opening Statements

    8:00 PM – Presentation of Honors

    8:45 PM – Dinner Stations Open

        Live Entertainment


    Free parking will be available at the SAISD lot on the opposite side of Cesar Chavez from the Park. Simply park your car, cross the street, and you will see the registration booth waiting.


    As we mentioned, the SPARC party is our annual fundraiser please help us make our goal this year by considering being a sponsor! If you want to learn more about how to sponsor this event feel free to contact Kristin Little, Director of Community Affairs, at klittle@buildsagreen.org.

    We want to thank this year’s sponsors who have already come on board, Thank you for your continued support!

  • SA Next 2016

  • SA Next for DreamWeek 2016

    Monday, Jan. 11th 2016 from 6 to 9 PM

    Geekdom Event Center 110 E. Houston St. (entrance is on Solidad)

    SA Next is a lecture series brought to you by Build San Antonio Green, CPS Energy, and Geekdom, that covers topics relating to new-urbanism and the future of San Antonio. What does that future look like and who is making the vision a reality? The first installment of the series in 2016 will be a special installment for DreamWeek and will explore Social Sustainability, using sustainability to improve the lives of the people of San Antonio.

    Speakers: Anita Ledbetter, Executive Director of Build San Antonio Green

    Jason Pittman,  Vice President of Powerfin Partners

    Beth Keel, Sustainability Initiatives Liaison for San Antonio Housing Authority

    Cost: Free

    RSVP to jeyer@buildsagreen.org


  • SA Next – Transportation in Action

    Join us this Thursday for our third installment of the SA Next Lecture Series – Transportation in Action! The SA Next Lecture Series was started as a partnership with CPS Energy, Geekdom, and Do210 to have conversations about New Urbanism and the Future of Downtown San Antonio with the people in the community who are bringing these new and exciting changes to our city. We have already heard from Anita Ledbetter about the the vision of Bill Sinkin dealing with renewable energy and Sustainability, as well as Urban Farming. Now join us to talk about some of the options for facing our Transportation Challenges from Bike Commuting, LoneStar Rail, and Uber!

    Please RSVP on our Do210 Event Page at: http://bit.ly/SAnextTransportation


  • SA Tomorrow Sustainability Forum


    You’re invited to San Antonio’s first ever Sustainability Forum!  This will be an interactive evening of local visionaries and community members planning today for a sustainable San Antonio tomorrow.

    June 23, 2015
    5:00 – 8:00
    In the Grotto of the Henry B. Gonzalez Center

    FREE Refreshments and FREE Parking in City Lots (Courtesy of Downtown Tuesday).  The first 100 people through the doors will be entered into a raffle toWIN an iPAD MINI!



    The Sustainability Forum will provide a platform to learn about and help refine what sustainability means to San Antonio.  The ideas generated through this Forum, and other stakeholder and public engagement activities, will culminate into a robust, actionable Sustainability Plan.  As one of the three plans in development through the SA Tomorrow planning process, the Sustainability Plan will serve as the roadmap to the sustainable future envisioned through the SA2020 process.

    The City and its partners are designing this event to be innovative and fun with five distinct areas running concurrent activities and programs–

    • Sustainability in Action: A series of TEDx-style presentations and panel discussions that summarize existing activities and inspire further action.
    • Creative Brainstorming: Concurrent facilitated ideation sessions on how to meet the goals of the Sustainability Plan.
    • Speed Planning: Quick idea blasts on topics relevant to sustainability in San Antonio.  Participants rotate through a number of tables for 10 minutes each.
    • Sustainovation (Sustainability-Innovation) Tech Zone: This area will offer interactive polling, continuously stream previously recorded speaker presentations, and host other online engagement platforms.
    • Expo Hall: This area will house organizational partner and corporate sponsor information tables.

    If you require translation, accessibility services, or if you have questions about the Sustainability Forum, please contact SASustainability@KimLundgrenAssociates.

    Transportation Options:
    The Convention Center Garage (Marina Garage), as-well-as downtown meters are free after 5pm.
    Marina Garage (210-207-8266)  At Bowie & Commerce, across the street from the main entrance to the Convention Center
    To obtain directions, click here.

    The E – New Free Downtown Circular VIA Bus
    The E is free!  It operates Tuesday-Saturday, 6pm to midnight and runs every 10 minutes.  This route provides frequent service to many downtown destinations including the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center.  Passengers can board at any VIA stop with ‘The E’ logo.  Click here for a route map and VIA stop locations.

    Rio Water Taxi Service
    Looking for a cool way to get to the event?  Try the Rio Water Taxi service that stops at over 39 stops along the beautiful Riverwalk.
    One way ticket: $5.00
    Tickets are available on the Rio Taxi boat and online here

  • SAnext Lecture Series

    Join us for our first installment in a new lecture series focused on New-Urbanism in Downtown San Antonio. We have partnered with CPS ENERGY and GEEKDOM to bring you the visionaries who are shaping the San Antonio of tomorrow!

    Space is limited to please RSVP by March 12th to JEyer@buildsagreen.org


  • Green Gala 2014

    October 17th!

    Each year we take one night to look back on all of the year’s accomplishments and to honor those in the green building community that have done amazing work in advancing our mission. This year we will once again be holding this event at the beautiful Witte Museum on October 17th. There will be live entertainment and a full sit down dinner. Tables and Tickets go fast so make sure to keep on the look out for more information! 2014GGstd-01     To purchase tickets or a table of 10 use the paypal button below. If you have problems or questions please contact Jacob Eyer, Event & Outreach Coordinator at JEyer@buildsagreen.org.

    If you would like to come, we still have some seats for sale, please contact us at 210-224-7278.

  • Green Home Tour

    Coming September 6th!

    New Construction, Historic Retro-fit, Multi-family, and Net Zero; this is the only home tour in San Antonio focused entirely on Green Building!

    Go inside to see first hand what is happening in the world of green building right now! You will have the chance to explore these energy efficient homes with the builders and vendors on hand to answer your questions about how these homes were built, and how they perform. No matter if you are interested in going green or building green this tour is for you!

    Tickets are on sale now! Follow the link below to purchase your tickets.


    And follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates!
  • Going Green Easy Summer Projects

    Welcome to the BSAG Influencers Blog Series! This is a new series of articles from friends and colleagues from our community discussing topics relating to sustainability and green building in San Antonio. We hope that this series will help provide some perspective and insight into what’s happening on the Green Front right here at home. The articles are meant as conversational in nature and therefore do not necessarily reflect the thoughts and opinions of Build San Antonio Green or it’s staff.
    With that said, Please enjoy this very informative article by one of our good friends at Green Home Realty, Drew McCurdy!
    It’s that time of year again! It’s starting to heat up, the kids are out of school, and you are spending more time in and around your home. If you are a current homeowner or are considering purchasing a home soon, you know how important it is to implement GREEN options. But with all the demands on the budget, you likely are asking how you can afford to be GREEN, where to start investing to realize value, and how to get started. Relax! As a Realtor with GREEN Home Realty who is certified GREEN by the National Association of Realtors, I get these questions frequently from my clients and would like to share how you can easily be more GREEN.   When looking at where to start first, there are a few main areas to consider: saving electricity, conserving water, and reducing waste. One of the largest energy consumers is your central air conditioner and heater. If you are purchasing a new home, make sure you pay attention to the SEER Rating, which stands for the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. According to Energy.gov, this rating essentially provides the relative amount of energy required to provide a specified amount of cooling for your home. Additionally, for newer homes built after January 26, 2006, this rating must be at minimum 13 or higher. If you are in a home with a system rated lower than 13, it may not be cost-effective to replace the system just yet unless it’s failing. In either case, it’s what controls your air conditioner that can play a huge role…your thermostat!
    Originally, many thermostats were manual. If you left it on, you may have cooled (or heated) too much. If you left it too low, then it would require more energy to get your home to a reasonable temperature. Then came programmable thermostats, which offered slightly better control.
    The challenge with programmable thermostats is that if they don’t have a flexible schedule adjustment, you could still be limited by one programmed schedule and still be wasting energy. Today, there are many more options including self-adjusting/learning thermostats. These thermostats learn your behavior and adjust accordingly. Many can be connected securely to your network for additional control away from home and through your mobile device. Consider a popular model like the Nest Thermostat. This thermostat retails for $249 and can be easily picked up locally at your Home Depot or Lowe’s. Scared of wiring? Don’t fret! Installation couldn’t be easier…even for a novice. Having personally installed myself, instructions are step-by-step. For most installations, it takes less than 15 minutes! There is even an online interactive guide to help you confirm compatibility with your system and walk you through the install process. Customer support is fantastic, should you need it. Using your thermostat is as easy as using your iPhone or Android phone. Not to mention, it looks beautiful in any home and will pay for itself in months!  
    Another big challenge in Texas is living with the heat and seemingly constant water restrictions! During the spring and summer months specifically, it can be increasingly difficult to maintain a beautiful landscape – even with drought resistant plants – when homeowners are restricted to specific days and times to water. Like most people, those schedules don’t always fit so something has to give and it usually is your landscape. Approach this differently to get your desired results. Consider a rain barrel to capture the rainfall off your roof.   As explained by epa.gov, a rain barrel is a type of system that will collect and store excess water as a reserve that would otherwise be lost as runoff. Based off epa.gov’s calculations, in as little as one rainfall you could easily fill an average-sized rain barrel of 55 gallons. This could provide enough water during the peak watering months April – October and as much as 1300 gallons of water, depending upon rainfall! Who wouldn’t want free, unrestricted water?
      Rain barrels vary in size, setup, color, and function. Basic setups, which are fine for most, start as little as $39 and sometimes less. More extravagant systems can be expanded on as budget allows. This provides flexibility to expand your savings as your landscape develops over time. I have personally purchased a few rain barrels locally from Dave The Barrel Man in San Antonio. At $69, I was able to get a 55-gallong barrel with built-in water spigot and removable screened lid – important to ensure insects cannot get to water. Service was fast and friendly and picking them up was easier than going to the grocery store. They are lightweight and I had them setup in minutes upon arriving home. And for those of you wondering if you can water from them directly…yes! Gravity allows water to flow through the spigot. Connect a simple water hose and your neighbors will be jealous as your landscape beautifies your home…not to mention you can wash your car without restriction!   Did you know that according to epa.gov for every 1/8 of an inch gap under a 36-inch door lets in as much air as a 2.4-inch hole in a wall? Now imagine those gaps and cracks around your home.
    Maybe your front door, back door, or garage door has been overlooked for a while? Perhaps around your windows or fireplace you have some gaps you’ve ignored? You don’t think about it, but those add up! Under $20, there are several options available including silicon caulk that comes in a variety of colors that will seal, flex with temperature changes, and complement your home. Door sweeps can be easily installed to begin providing enhanced sealing between your outside doors and the floor. Spray foam can insulate large crevices indoors and out. And light switch and socket plate insulators may be beneficial. All can be found at local hardware stores.
    Thought about going solar but not ready to go all out yet? Start with something simple! For about $200, you can purchase solar attic fans to replace those squeaky turbines that are probably rusted, broken, and only spin when there is actually consistent wind. Solar attic fans provide cool air circulation in your attic using the sunlight. Imagine that, use what causes your attic to heat up to actually cool it down, save energy, and for free after your initial installation. There are many places to purchase the fans including Costco, Home Depot, and Lowe’s. There are several varieties to choose from to suit your taste. To know how many you need, you can check out a suite of calculators online that allow you to plug in your attic square footage, such as the calculator at solar-attic-fan-info.com. You can install yourself if you are comfortable making a small hole in your roof or, for a nominal fee, a licensed installer can do it for you if you’d rather not get on a ladder.
    Once installed, you will notice a dramatic difference in the temperature of your attic as hot air is being expelled consistently. This in turn reduces the strain on your A/C and thus your bill as it keeps the cooled air cooler as it travels through the ducts into your home. This one potentially can have a multiple times savings impact! Add an attic tent for more!
      Several other projects exist at varying levels that include rebates which you can take advantage of by visiting cpsenergysavers.com. Currently, A/C, attic insulation, solar, and natural gas rebates exist to name a few. Visit saws.org/conservation to view a variety of indoor/outdoor rebates that exist for more projects at varying levels. Outdoor rebates currently include patioscape, landscape, irrigation design, and swimming pool filters. Indoor rebates currently include free water-efficient fixtures. It’s definitely worth checking out these rebates, especially if you are planning to do some of these projects anyways and are on a budget.   More and more, buyers are looking to purchase energy efficient homes and sellers are looking to implement GREEN enhancements for greater resale value. It’s a known fact in the real estate industry that homes with GREEN technology sell faster and closer to the list price. It’s a win-win for everyone! So if you’re looking to start some summer projects and didn’t quite know where to start, consider this information and make a list to prioritize what would be most beneficial for your specific needs and budget. Start enjoying your improvements and saving while you’re in your home and having it more marketable should you ever decide to sell or rent your home in the future. And if your looking for a home, know that these projects can be factored into an offer to make your home more efficient and enjoyable once you move in. Being GREEN doesn’t have to be about spending money, it’s about educating yourself to understand the many options you have in reducing waste and conserving. And while you’re enjoying your “green savings,” let everyone else be “green with envy.”

     Drew McCurdy, REALTOR, GREEN, CNE of Green Home Realty, LLC


    If you are interested in participating in the blog series please contact Jacob Eyer the Event & Outreach Coordinator at Jeyer@buildsagreen.org
  • District-Scale Sustainability

    Welcome to the BSAG Influencers Blog Series! This is a new series of articles from friends and colleagues from our community discussing topics relating to sustainability and green building in San Antonio. We hope that this series will help provide some perspective and insight into what’s happening on the Green Front right here at home. The articles are meant as conversational in nature and therefore do not necessarily reflect the thoughts and opinions of Build San Antonio Green or it’s staff.
    With that said, Please enjoy our very first article in this series by Heather Holdridge!

    I have worked with energy and sustainability issues for building projects for the past eight years and have been intrigued by the interconnection between these individual buildings and other elements of the built environment (neighboring buildings, utilities, people, transportation, etc.).  The highest potential for energy and water savings occurs at this interconnection, yet building professionals typically do not get the opportunity to work on projects beyond the individual building scale.  When Architecture 2030 launched “2030 Districts” a few years ago, I took notice, as it seemed like a great model for San Antonio to apply in a unique way.

    Over the past few months, a group of local architects, activists, and properties owners have formed a San Antonio 2030 District Exploratory Committee.  San Antonio will be the first 2030 District to have a boundary that is linear; The boundary will follow the San Antonio River through downtown, stretching from Brackenridge Park in the north to Roosevelt Avenue in the south, and will cover most of downtown between I-10 and I-35.  Within these borders are many of the large downtown offices and hotels, the development at Pearl, UTSA’s downtown campus, and over 5 million square feet of city-owned properties. The San Antonio 2030 District will also be the first 2030 District to incorporate land use goals into its targets, and the first to allow residential properties to participate.

    The first 2030 District was formed in Seattle in 2011, when a group of architects was inspired by tapping into the incredible potential to decrease energy consumption of existing buildings.  133 buildings totally 28 million square feet have joined, which accounts for 37% of the square footage within the district boundary.  So far, the Seattle 2030 District has reduced its energy consumption by 21%, its water usage by 7%, and its transportation carbon emissions by 22%.

    A 2030 District is a defined area in a city where member building owners are committed to the goal of reducing consumption of energy, water, and transportation emissions by 50% by year 2030.  2030 District members are encouraged to share their utility bills as well as proven strategies for improved building performance.  As building owners begin to see improvement in their energy performance and a decrease in their utility bills, more buildings in the District will be encouraged to join.


    The motivation behind sharing utility data is that people tend to have a fatalistic view of paying bills.  That is, many of us receive a bill and pay it without giving much thought to the numbers.  Once District members share consumption data, individual buildings can compare their own energy use against similar buildings in the immediate area and many will implement strategies to realize potential savings.  At the same time, buildings that use less energy can disclose their best practices.  Without this ability to compare, buildings might consume 2 or 3 times more than similar, nearby buildings and never know about the potential savings.

    This district-scale approach to sustainability requires collaboration, leveraged financing, and shared resources through unique public/private partnerships.  Property owners and managers can come together with local governments, businesses, and community stakeholders to create a business model for urban sustainability.  Together, they can develop and implement creative strategies, best practices, and verification methods for measuring progress towards a common performance goal.


    Thirteen building owners and property managers (Alamo Architects, Alternivest, AREA Real Estate, Cleary Zimmermann Engineers, MWM and Associates, OCO Architects, Overland Partners, USAA Real Estate Company and Peloton Commercial Real Estate for One Riverwalk Place, San Antonio Housing Authority, San Antonio River Authority, Zurich International Properties, Lake|Flato Architects, and The Brooklynite) have signed on so far, and San Antonio could become the sixth official 2030 District in the nation once we formalize an agreement for 501c3 partnership. 

    For the San Antonio 2030 District, property owners/managers will not be required to achieve the goals of the District by legislative mandates, or as individuals.  Rather, adopters will achieve the San Antonio 2030 District goals as a collective group of property owners, property managers, and developers because full participation in the District brings collaboration, shared resources, and financing options that will make high-performance buildings the most profitable building type in San Antonio.  There are no fees for San Antonio 2030 District membership at this time.

    Adopters support the goals of the San Antonio 2030 District, which are to meet the following performance goals on a district-wide scale:

    Existing buildings and infrastructure operations:

    • Energy use: A minimum 10% reduction below the national average by 2015, with incremental targets, reaching a 50% reduction by 2030
    • Water use: A minimum 10% reduction below the national average by 2015, with incremental targets, reaching a 50% reduction by 2030
    • CO2­e of auto and freight: A minimum 10% reduction below the current District average by 2015 with incremental targets, reaching a 50% reduction by 2030
    • Land Use: A minimum of 10% retrofits to include low-impact development best management practices by 2015, with an incremental target of reaching 50% of retrofits by 2030

    New buildings, major renovations, and new infrastructure:

    • Energy use: An immediate 60% reduction below the national average, with incremental targets, reaching carbon neutral by 2030
    • Water use: An immediate 50% reduction below the current national average
    • CO2e of auto and freight: An immediate 50% reduction below the current District average
    • Land use: A minimum of 10% of plats to include low-impact development best management practices by 2015, with an incremental target of reaching 50% of plats by 2030

    The San Antonio 2030 District also supports sustainable land use and management practices and low impact development to protect water and air quality throughout the District boundary.


    Adopter Benefits:

    The San Antonio 2030 District is in the process of developing tools which will be available to property owners, property managers, or developers who become adopters:

    • Operational cost savings: The primary direct benefit of making progress toward the District goals
    • ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager: Assistance with account setup and initial upload of utility data, and ongoing Portfolio Manager training as required
    • Initial benchmarking: Confidential analysis on building performance data in relation to District goals as well as similar building types within the District and nationwide
    • Preliminary assessment: Breakdown of cost and resulting savings of efficiency strategies to meet District goals
    • Access to and guidance for financing opportunities: Information on utility incentives, tax incentives, available financing options (such as ESCo, PACE, performance contracting, etc. as well as traditional mechanisms), and connection to professional partners in the energy retrofit finance sector
    • Founding adopters: The first ten adopters in the San Antonio 2030 District will be highlighted as founding adopters on the San Antonio 2030 District website and may use this designation for marketing purposes
    • Forum discussions: Informal and formal gatherings will be organized to provide adopters the opportunity to share information and best practices


    Adopter Contributions:

    In exchange for adopter benefits, adopters are asked to participate in the development of the District in the following ways:

    • Sharing of performance data: Confidential sharing of building energy use, water use, and transportation management plan data with the SA2030D Advisory Committee.  Aggregate data about the District will be made publicly available but no individual building will be identified.
    • Participation in Portfolio Manager: Use of ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager to track monthly energy use for each building
    • Lessons learned and case studies: Share insights in best practices, lessons learned, and case studies with the SA2030D Advisory Committee to help raise the level of performance across the District
    • Support for the San Antonio 2030 District Board of Directors (optional): Participation in District decision-making, evaluation of District membership criteria for property owners and stakeholders, mentorship for small/sole proprietor property owner and managers


    If you own or manage a property in or near the San Antonio 2030 District, please contact our group so we can talk about signing up for the initiative.  This is a landmark opportunity for San Antonio to take the national stage for its leadership in sustainability, as our approach will demonstrate the city’s unique culture of collaboration.

    HHoldridgeHeather Gayle Holdridge, LEED AP BD+C, EIT, Associate AIA is the Sustainability Manager at Lake|Flato Architects, a San Antonio-based design firm focused on timeless sustainable architecture that is rooted to its place.  You can follow the firm’s blog at www.lakeflatodogrun.com.  Heather is also a member of Build San Antonio Green’s Technical Advisory Group. 

    If you are interested in participating in the blog series please contact Jacob Eyer the Event & Outreach Coordinator at Jeyer@buildsagreen.org
  • Build San Antonio Green 2011

    Build San Antonio Green’s program is changing! Complying with the energy requirements and getting the CPS Energy rebates is going to be changing in light of the changes coming to the manner in which HERS Ratings are assigned and to how ENERGY STAR v. 3 is going to work.

    Come to this workshop and learn how to stay in compliance and, more importantly, continue to recieve the CPS Energy Whole Home rebates!

    Register here