Solar Reflector/AEGB wins 2011 UN Habitat Scroll Award

                    Austin Energy Green Building WIns 

          2011 United Nations Habitat Scroll of Honour Award


By Lucy Stolzenburg
Austin Energy Green Building, TXSES’s partner in producing the annual Cool House Tour, has won the prestigious United Nations Habitat Scroll Award.This follows, after 19 years, the United Nations Local Government Honours Award presented to Green Building at the U.N. Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. The 2011 award recognizes AEGB for being the first in the United States to lead the way in sustainable building practices and commercial construction, providing valuable electricity, fuel, water and construction material savings. The program ensures that buildings are energy efficient, thus making a positive, sustainable, durable contribution to the city.

UN Habitat works to transform towns and cities into safer, healthier, settlements with better opportunities where everyone, including the urban poor, can live in dignity. It’s a huge challenge, as more than half of the planet’s seven billion people are now urban dwellers and responsible development is difficult.  Each year, UN Habitat honors governmental institutions, nonprofits, and individuals worldwide who have worked to improve the quality of urban life. This year, the theme Cities and Climate Change, was chosen as the preeminent challenge of the 21st century.

AEGB was the only 2011 award honoree from the US. The awards ceremony in Aguascalientes, Mexico, recognized organizations and individuals from Russia, Cuba, Australia, Namibia, Malaysia, Burkina Faso, Thailand and Mexico. The accomplishments included sustainable low-cost manufacturing of construction materials (Cuba), housing for 1,000 elderly homeless individuals (Australia), a federation that has secured land for over 4,000 households (Namibia) and an innovative rush hour traffic/stormwater management system (Malaysia).

Celebrating their 20th year, AEGB has worked to make green technology and sustainable building practices the accepted norm in national and international construction. “This validates the first UN award we received in 1992,"  said AEGB Manager Richard Morgan.   We didn’t have much on the ground then; two staff members and a few homes rated. But the UN thought it was a cool idea, a model that could be replicated.” Today, AEGB has cumulatively rated 9900 single family homes, 11,487 multi-family units (in 78 buildings) and 143 commercial  buildings. They are recognized for inspiring the Leadership in Energy Efficient Design (LEED) program and are consulted nationally and internationally.

Morgan accepted the award on World Habitat Day October 3, and was pleasantly surprised with the star quality in attendance.  Mexico’s President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa opened the ceremony by addressing the necessity of altering our world to combat and accommodate climate change. The Minister for Social Development spoke to the enormous contribution of greenhouse gas emissions - 70 percent - from urban settlements worldwide and the need for behavior change (Mexico City, one of the most polluted cities on the planet, is on track to reduce emissions from 2008-2012 by 7.7 million tons with their aggressive Plan Verde). 

As promoters of solar and renewable energy, the Texas Solar Energy Society recognizes that buildings must first perform efficiently to best make use of resources. Our partnership with Austin Energy Green Building to produce the Cool House Tour helps both organizations promote sustainable design, efficient building technologies and paves the way for living with less resource demand, both limited and renewable. 

Read more about UN Habitat and the Scroll of Honour Award winners.