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Making Austin Solar-Ready

Austin has forever been a progressive city when it comes to the environment. We have gone to great lengths to fight to protect our lakes, green spaces, air quality, and living conditions. As we move into the new year our City Council is now proposing a new measure which, if passed, will require all new construction, as of October 1st, to be "solar ready". According to a new article in The Austin Chronicle, all new residential structures will need to be designed and built in a way to allow the owners the option to install solar equipment (e.g. solar panels) -- which the City offers an incentive rebate program for, by the way... This would primarily mean that south-facing roofs would need to be clear of vent pipes, covers, and anything else obstructing full sun throughout the prime daylight hours.

Mayor Steve Adler has expressed concerns that this might affect affordability, however, this is merely a design issue and not truly an expense issue. Also, it is not a requirement that the owner install the solar panels, but this merely gives them the option of installing them either upon construction or at a later date. In our opinion, that's a win-win all the way around. However, Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tevo has questioned specific draft language about values of environmental protection and cost, while the Homebuilders Association is now opposing it, saying that the local plumbing code could conflict with the new solar-ready proposal.

We will see how this progresses over the next few months, though at this point it looks like the City Council is leaning towards approving the measure with the only stalwart opposition coming from District 3 Council Member Pio Renteria and District 8 Council Member Ellen Troxclair.

This brings up a pertinent question for Austinites, especially those recently relocated from other cities and/or countries. How important is it to you that we continue our long standing honored tradition of environmental awareness and protection? Do you support such measures to make it easier for residents to take advantage of such alternative forms of energy such as solar panels?

So, what are your thoughts? Talk to us on Twitter @atxarchitect or on Facebook at

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