Austin’s 2014 Green Year in Review


The biggest green news stories of 2014 for Austin, in the minds of the Austin EcoNetwork staff, were focused on elections, utilities and climate issues, but we are pleased to share there were a BUNCH of good things that happened this year in education, green building, zero waste and more. The Wild card addition that could fall under multiple categories, including youth/education, green building, energy, food/growing, zero waste and more is the innovative Dumpster Project. Huston-Tillotson University staff and students, under the leadership of Professor Dumpster, (Dean Dr. Jeff Wilson) transformed a used TDS trash dumpster into a tiny home over the course of 2014. Among the honors they won was "Best New Condo in East Austin". They developed sustainability curriculum for ‘Science Thursdays with Professor Dumpster’ at AISD’s Blackshear Elementary and will continue educational outreach in year two. Other Austinites and visitors from around the world got to see the Dumpster home while "on tour" at various events like SXSW Eco and Earth Day 2014.



The outgoing Austin City council had a big year, passing a string of new resolutions that will have a profound impact on Austin's environment for year's to come. We thank the Mayor and Council members for their service and want you to know we have embedded those accomplishments within the topic-specific sections below.  The Austin Monitor’s 2014 Year in Review is a compact piece of reporting that does a great job of summarizing stories they found most significant in Austin — and not surprisingly many of them directly centered on the environment. We appreciated thier coverage of the 78 candidates of the 10-1 election, the failed rail plan, Austin Energy’s new 10-year electric generation plan, water rates, the Onion Creek Flood, State Highway 45, and the CodeNext building code rewrite.


Switch to 10-1

For the first time ever, Austin elected 10 city council members from 10 different geographic districts plus one mayor. For the environment, the elections were bittersweet. The good news is that a majority (6 out of 11) of the new council members received the endorsements of at least 2 environmental groups. The bad news is, the most anti-environmental candidate out of the original 78-candidate slate has been elected to represent District 6 in Northwest Austin.

Austin EcoNetwork played a role in educating candidates and voters about the key environmental issues. For the candidates, the Election Navigator project introduced them to the environmental community in a way that we occurred organized, substantial, thoughtful, and necessary to understand and respond to. For voters, it provided a comprehensive set of educational tools, resources and links available to help them make informed choices about the greenest candidates running in the new 10-1 Austin City Council and Mayoral general and runoff elections. It is designed to help voters find out where candidates stand on important issues like utilities and infrastructure (water, energy, transportation and materials management in the form of zero waste), as well as life-sustaining and quality of life issues such as food, forest and climate change. The site currently features all the runoff election info, however, the entire 78-candidate slate from the General Election is preserved here. A full description, including a video introduction is on our Crowdera crowdfunding page.

This new city council has its work cut out for it. The city is growing faster than its infrastructure can keep up, the region is in a perpetual state of drought, and the impacts of climate change are more tangible now than ever before. Tackling these issues will not be easy, especially since all but one of the council members are new to City Hall. This means that if you have a particular environmental issue that you care about, get involved, talk to your new district council member, and let them know what you care about. Remember that just a handful of citizens voicing concern is often enough to get movement on an issue.


City’s Sustainability Planning


  • The Office of Sustainability worked with more than 160 individuals from City departments and community partner organizations to collect data and benchmark performance against 600 measures of community-wide sustainability. This information went into an application that achieved a 4-Star rating (out of a possible 5) in the STAR Community Index, highlighted the measurable results achieved through sustainability projects and initiatives launched and completed across 24 City departments since 2012, as well as the tangible benefits that were realized for the community.

  • The “Option 2 – Deep Clean” approach to the CodeNEXT land development code re-write process was passed on November 20th by the City Council, with an emphasis on Green Infrastructure and Sustainable Water Management. Special thanks to Eleanor McKinney, who spearheaded the “greening” efforts on behalf of the American Society of Landscape Architects and out-going Councilmember Morrison for her support.

  • The Office of Sustainability launched a customized sustainability mobile app, unique to Austin, called Rethink/. The app is designed to engage the community more broadly in everyday, real-world actions that residents can take to be more sustainable – from energy efficiency to taking alternative transportation, from water conservation to waste reduction and recycling.



  • In January CapMetro launched its new MetroRapid service on two of the city’s most congested north-south corridors with transit-priority lanes. The new 60-foot busses are equipped with onboard Wi-Fi and computers that allow riders to scan their cell phone as a bus pass, and the covered bus stops display real-time information about the arrival time of the next bus.
  • The biggest transportation news was the failure to pass Prop 1, the rail and roads bond package that was on the November ballot. In the wake of that vote, attention has turned to significantly expanding Metro-Rapid style bus rapid transit.
  • The opening of the Boardwalk Trail at Lady Bird Lake completes a 10.1 mile loop around the popular lake trail.  The Boardwalk connects the former end of the trail by the Austin American Statesman Building to Lakeshore Park, closing the southeastern gap of the hike and bike trail that used to force people to use Riverside Drive to cross I-35.  
  • RideScout rocked 2014! In the beginning of the year, they were available in just two cities — Austin and Washington, DC. By June, they had exploded to 69 cities across the US and Canada. In September, RideScout was acquired by moovel, a Daimler brand, and they plan to continue expansion under the RideScout name in 2015.
  • In October Council allowed Transportation Networking Companies (TNCs), such as Uber and Lyft to start operating legally in Austin, with provisions for accommodating disabled users and quarterly reporting. Learn more about Austin's new TNC regulations here
  • For the second time, Austin hosted the Formula Sun Grand Prix out at the Circuit of the Americas track. This year 23 college teams from around the world (some heavily sponsored by the auto industry) competed in this three-day solar-powered endurance race. The vehicles are designed and built by the students and "fueled" entirely by the sun. This made the intermittent sun during the race require more strategy.
  • Austin B-cycle grew from 11 bike share stations to 45 throughout downtown Austin, booked 156,048 B-cycle rider trips, replaced over 40,000 auto trips, and set a national bike share record for most checkouts per bike in a single day during SXSW 2014.


Energy & Climate Change

  • After the environmental community called for its creation, city council formed the Austin Generation Resource Planning Task Force in the spring to help develop Austin Energy's new generation plan. This plan helps to determine where the utility gets its energy for the next 10 years. After the task force's final report was published, it was met with a great deal of push back from Austin Energy.

  • In late August, city council passed the Affordable Energy Resolution which called for Austin Energy to generate more than 65 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2025, retire the Decker gas-fired power plant, and replace it with 600 MW of west Texas solar. Another resolution (sponsored by Kathie Tovo) was passed at that same meeting and established a taskforce to look at the utility's energy efficiency programs and make sure that they serve people of all income levels.

  • After months of contentious debate and a lengthy back-and-forth between Austin Energy, city council, and environmental advocates a New Austin Generation Plan was finally passed on December 11th. The new plan rolled back the renewable energy target to 55% from August’s Affordable Energy Resolution target of 65%, and reduced the local solar goal from 200 MW to 110MW by 2020 (with 70MW of that being from distributed residential and commercial rooftops). However, the plan overall firmed up Austin Energy’s plan for West Texas solar to 750MW with 150MW already under contract plus 600MW phased over 10 years (the 600MW goal no longer tied to Decker’s retirement date). The greatest source of frustration to many local clean energy advocates and climate activists was the inclusion of a new 500 MW natural gas plant, pending the outcome of a study to determine if a new gas plant is truly necessary. It will be up to the new city council to review the results of this study and make the final decision about whether or not to build this plant.

  • Major progress on Climate issues was made this year, in Austin and beyond.

    • As of December 2014, the local government of the City of Austin has reduced the Carbon Footprint of its 12,000 person organization by an whopping 64% since 2007, moving closer toward meeting the goal of carbon neutral operations by 2020.

    • The City’s Office of Sustainability worked closely with City stakeholder groups to assess Austin’s climate resilience and integrate strategies into departmental planning efforts around transportation, electric utility, water utility, and drainage infrastructure; community health and wellness efforts; and disaster preparedness and emergency response management.

    • In April, Austin City Council updated its climate protection plan and voted to adopt a new goal of Net Zero Community-wide Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 2050. A steering committee and four Technical Advisory Groups (TAGs) are evaluating strategies and targets in the areas of Energy, Transportation, Waste and Industrial Processes. Specific plans for how to accomplish this ambitious goal will be presented to the new City Council for approval in mid 2015.

    • In June, Obama’s EPA announced draft rules to slash carbon pollution from power plants which for Texas will require a reduction carbon intensity of electric generation by 39% by 2030. Any mix of efficiency, demand reduction, offsets or renewables can be used to reach this goal — an approach which will use market forces to stimulate job growth in whichever cleantech industries delivery the savings most efficiently for Texas.

    • September 21st, 2014 more than 100 world leaders gathered at the UN in New York City for an historic summit on climate change. Outside the meeting in NYC and at 2,646 solidarity events held in 162 countries, the People's Climate March became the largest climate march in history.

    • The latest IPCC report, expressed pointedly and sternly that human influence on the climate system is clear, and recent anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are the highest in history. It states that recent climate changes have had widespread impacts on human and natural systems and we must pursue adaptation and mitigation strategies. “Continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems. Limiting climate change would require substantial and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions which, together with adaptation, can limit climate change risks.

    • The December 2014 Climate talks in Lima, Peru yielded  signs of cooperation among the big players of China and the United States. Delegates approved a framework for setting national pledges to be submitted to the Paris summit in December 2015.  

  • All over Texas and the United States unusual earthquakes are shaking communities and the North Texas City of Denton was the first to ban fracking. Look for this to come under fire from the Texas lege in 2015.

  • Obama has said he will veto the XL Keystone Pipeline project.

  • Oil and Gas prices have dropped so far and so fast in Q4 of 2015 that all forms of energy are feeling the effects. But oil markets establishing a volatility range anywhere from $40/bl – $140/bl within 12  months will bring it’s own predictability concerns towards future investments reliant on this energy source.


  • In 2014 the drought continued, the rain that fell did not make it into the upper Highland Lakes, water consumption per capita continued to drop, and water rates were increased, twice.

  • Water Treatment Plant 4, which sits at the intersection of 2222 and RM 620 near Lake Travis, was opened in December 2014 despite some arguing that it would be more cost-effective to mothball it. It currently has the capacity to draw 50 million gallons per day out of the lowest part of Lake Travis (expandable to 300 mgpd) and pump the water uphill into a tank on McNeil Rd. & Hwy 183. This new plant will provide continuous service should either of the other treatment plants go down.

  • The biggest development was the Austin Water Resource Planning Task Force. In April, city council created this task force to make recommendations to council about future water planning in a new era of heightened drought and rising utility bills. Their final report in July was met with much praise and is chock full of good ideas for a new path forward. Read the report here and look forward to seeing its recommendations debated by the new city council in the upcoming year.


Zero Waste – reduce, reuse, recycle, repurpose, compost

  • Austin Resource Recovery’s (ARR) assessment of their progress toward reaching the City’s goal of 90% landfill waste diversion by 2040 showed that they are about between 6-7% behind target. While they had hoped to be at 44% ,the actual diversion rate is 37.22%. They are taking all kinds of actions to help increase diversion including:

    • In August ARR started accepting all hard plastics for recycling in the curbside blue bins. Acceptable items include plastic buckets, lawn chairs, laundry baskets, pet carriers, milk crates, non-battery operated toys, totes and lids, tubs, flower pots and trays, dish drainers, and trash cans.

    • At the Austin Resource Recovery Center at at 3810 Todd Lane started accepting electronics for recycling. See full list of items that can be dropped off here.

    • ARR expanded their Curbside Compost Collection pilot from 8,000 homes to 14,000 homes in 2014.

  • Reuse was the big theme of 2014

    • The Austin Materials Marketplace (AMM) is a new program that brings together businesses of all sizes and entrepreneurs in the City of Austin and Travis County to create closed-loop systems in which one company’s waste is another company’s raw material. Funded by the City of Austin, the project is being managed by US Business Council for Sustainable Development and Ecology Action. This online database allows local businesses to trade, buy and sell waste materials.

    • The City of Austin started marketing their Shop Zero Waste Program in earnest, highlighting businesses that promote reuse, upcycling, and recycling/composting businesses.

    • In October Austin hosted leaders from around the world for the International Reuse Conference & Expo ReuseConex while the Austin City Council honored Austin Reuse Day and Week.

  • There was progress on the Food Waste Prevention and Recovery front this year too:

    • Significant commitments to advancing awareness and practices around food waste prevention and recovery were cemented in the signing of the Emerging Solutions Project Charter by Mayor Lee Leffingwell, and representatives of the EPA, the Greater Austin Restaurant Association, Austin Hotel and Lodging Association, Keep Austin Fed and UT Arlington Zero Waste Network. These groups committed to integrate food waste prevention into their planning and actions.

    • A update to the Universal Recycling Ordinance will require all businesses with a food permit to start composting by 2018.

    • Until recently, composting and recycling at food trailers was technically illegal. With lots of support from Austin Zero Waste Alliance, Compost Pedallers and other community advocates, the City updated their code and many trailers have started composting around town.  

  • Austin Community College received a Campus Sustainability Award from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). The college was honored for its case study, “How to Start a Comprehensive Composting and Recycling Program at a Commuter College.” ACC was also awarded grants from the Capital Area Council of Governments (CAPCOG) and Keep America Beautiful to strengthen its recycling program at the Riverside Campus.



  • EcoRise Youth Innovations, an innovative school-based curriculum developer, made great strides in the last year, expanding from 18 to 55 schools in 2014. At only half way through the school year and so far they've: trained 120 teachers in 55 schools across Texas. Connected 80 volunteers to classrooms for a total of 245 volunteer hours and facilitated 100 green student innovations.

  • Foundation Communities partnered with EcoRise to design EcoSmarts. This summer curriculum was created for use in Foundation Communities Learning Centers to educate students on resource conservation in the areas of water, waste, energy, and indoor air quality. The pilot resulted in an increase in knowledge by 31 percent for instructors’ and 40 percent in students’ assessments. EcoSmarts also serves to compliment the year-round environmental learning, helping to make Foundation Communities the first organization in Austin to teach green curriculum in an after-school setting.

  • National Wildlife Federation’s Eco-Schools USA Program continues to help AISD reach their sustainability goals while providing innovative learning opportunities to students. During 2014, NWF gave 19 grants to schools in AISD to help student’s lead sustainability action projects on their campuses. Projects included 9 schoolyard habitats, 6 consumption and waste reduction campaigns and 4 energy reduction campaigns; bringing the total number of registered Eco-Schools in AISD to 38.

  • Bright Green Future Grants were awarded to 19 elementary, middle, and high school sustainability projects that promote environmental stewardship among K-12 students, as well as the broader community. This grant program is a collaborative program led by the Office of Sustainability, and co-funded by Public Works, Watershed Protection, Austin Water Utility, and Austin Energy.

  • Through American YouthWorks’ YouthBuild Austin and Texas Conservation Corps programs, young people repaired and weatherized 25 existing homes, built two brand-new, energy efficient, affordable homes in East Austin, restored 1,014 acres of  park and preserve land, and built and maintained 165 miles of trail. These projects benefit the community and the environment, while providing skill building and career preparation for participants.

  • The Austin Independent School District finally hired a Sustainability and Environmental Stewardship Coordinator in October. They selected Jennifer Cregar for the job to create the school district's first sustainability program, encompassing environmental education, behavior, policies, and practices related to:

– Energy conservation and renewable energy

– Water conservation and quality

– Sustainable transportation

– Outdoor air quality and climate change

– Indoor air quality and environmental health

– Environmentally responsible purchasing

– Waste minimization, recycling, and composting

– Sustainable food and outdoor spaces


Nature, Food & Growing

  • National Wildlife Federation launched their Habitat Talks Program designed to help Austin citizens provide safe havens for wildlife while practicing ecologically sound gardening.  In partnership with the City of Austin’s Wildlife Austin Program, they also trained 30 Austin volunteers on how to restore and create wildlife habitat in an urban setting, through their Habitat Stewards program.

  • The Office of Sustainability launched a Food Web Portal that aggregates links to web-based educational information and resources for citizens interested in learning about how to start a food business, growing food, healthy eating, buying local food, helping with hunger, donating food, or composting.

  • HEB teamed up with the Environmental Defense Fund to improve sustainability at the fisheries it buys from. In conjunction with this new partnership, HEB launched a sustainable seafood website, where consumers can go to gain a deeper understanding of the grocer's standards. There is even a list of all of the fish that HEB sells, along with their country of origin, a sustainability ranking from the EDF, and an indicator that reveals whether or not the fish is wild-caught or farm-raised.

  • The provocative and enlightening documentary Cowspiracy helped raise the level of awareness about the global environmental destruction associated with eating animals and animal products. The combined pollution and emissions (more than all forms of transportation combined), deforestation and loss of biodiversity, water and other resource consumption, (not to mention the cruelty to animals), add up to tragic global environmental impact…and yet major environmental groups are not taking on the production or consumption of animal products proportional to its impact.

  • In February the Sustainable Food Center started a seed bank here in Austin and invited local farmers, home and community gardeners, and other seed lovers to bring their own saved seeds from their gardens and/or a tasty, local dish for the Seed Swap Potluck. They also offered seed saving demonstrations and seed saving resources to get newbies started.

  • The City hired a new Food Systems Coordinator, Edwin Marty.

  • This was a big year for TreeFolks as they celebrated their 25th anniversary as a non-profit organization, planted their 1 millionth tree in Central Texas, and nearly doubled their staff to accommodate the need for reforestation services in Bastrop County.  In 2014 alone, they planted or distributed 707,500 trees through the NeighborWoods street trees program, the City Shade workshops and volunteer tree planting events, and the Bastrop County Community Reforestation Program. That adds up to more than 1,780 volunteers who donated 5,570 hours of their time to support those programs, an in-kind labor contribution of over $130,000. All this earned TreeFolks a place among Greenlights’ top three medium-sized Nonprofit of the Year Award.

  • In April, the Urban Poultry Association of Texas, Inc produced the 7th annual Funky Chicken Coop Tour® (and 2nd Annual Bicycle Tour de Funky Chickens) which attracted 2,500 visitors to learn raising backyard poultry. 2014 Tour proceeds funded a Permablitz to install a massive runoff and erosion control project for New Farm Institute, the non-profit arm of Green Gate Farms. Read more.

  • Austin and Central Texas Backyard Poultry Meetup celebrated their 5th anniversary in May and became the largest Backyard Poultry Meetup in the world! They have had nearly 150 meetups to date and a flock of 2100+!  They also worked with various organizations and farms, including Austin Permaculture Guild to install perennial food gardens in farms and schools in the Austin area; Munkebo Farm to understand key points for duck husbandry; and Eden's Cove to let their interested members learn how to humanely process chickens.

  • The Natural Gardener was voted Best Garden Store in the Austin Chronicle’s Readers poll for the twelfth time and in January John Dromgoole traveled to Atlanta, GA to accept the award as Today’s Garden Center’s Top 5 Nurseries in the US; #1 Nursery in their southwest region (including Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arizona). Always looking for ways to conserve water, they expanded their rain barrel offerings as well as their xeric and native plant selection. Dromgoole also worked with his supply chain to address the serious issues of pollinator health and honey bee die offs. They also redesigned a large part of their nursery, creating a welcoming and accessible layout.


Green Building & Development

  • US Green Building Council Balcones Chapter launched the Texas Green Building Marketplace, an online resource for connecting the commercial green building community throughout Texas and help commercial projects find the professionals and vendors that can help earn LEED credits toward their accreditation.
  • The Office of Sustainability led the ongoing implementation of the EcoDistrict program at the Seaholm District redevelopment by successfully applying for the EcoDistrict Target Cities program.

  • In December 2014, Foundation Communities opened the first new affordable housing community in downtown Austin in 45 years. Capital Studios was built with the highest possible green standards and is anticipating both a LEED Platinum Home certification as well as the Austin Energy Green Building 5-star designation.

  • In 2014, The Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems held public presentations by sustainability thought-leaders, community design charrettes and meetings, and other events at The Center's green demonstration campus. The Center is developing its campus into a learning corridor called VIA VERDE as part of its Master Plan.

  • The Dumpster Project began at Huston-Tillotson University. Professor Dumpster (Jeff Wilson) moved into a 33 sq. ft. dumpster and starting working to transform it into a sustainable house and interactive teaching lab. The effort has be a huge success, with national media all over the story and H-T University solidifying a name for itself in sustainability including wins for Green is the New Black in both local and national competitions.

  • Ecology Action has continued the remediation of Circle Acres, a 9.7 acre brownfield in the Montopolis neighborhood. A former landfill site is home to a small wetland that houses many native bird species, like wood ducks, and other native flora and fauna. The site also acts as a home base for the Ecology Action Center for Sustainable Futures, which is the research, education and advocacy umbrella of the organization.

  • The Office of Sustainability, in partnership with Public Works and with other City departmental support, completed the Green Alley Demonstration Project, which serves as a micro-scale model of neighborhood sustainability that exemplifies Imagine Austin’s vision. The project integrates many priority programs including: compact and connected investments, green infrastructure, household affordability, sustainable water resources, and the creative economy.

  • Austin Community College won Austin Monthly’s 2014 “Best of the City Award” for the District’s innovative conversion of past-its-prime Highland Mall into the new ACC Highland Campus (LEED rating pending). Two additional ACC campuses, Hays and Elgin, were awarded LEED Silver in 2014.

  • Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems continues to restore the 2007 Texas A&M Solar Decathlon house and has begun to use the building as a Learning Laboratory. In 2014, The Center held public presentations by sustainability thought-leaders, community design charrettes and meetings, and other events in the building, which is located at The Center's green demonstration campus. The Center is developing its campus into a learning corridor called VIA VERDE as part of its Master Plan.

  • Foundation Communities is an affordable housing nonprofit with a portfolio of 18 properties in Austin and North Texas that provides homes to over 2,800 individuals and families in Texas. As the owner and operator of these communities, green building and resource efficiency have been an explicit part of their property management and new development planning for many years. They develop and promote environmental tools that increase the value of their assets, reduce operational costs, and improve both resident and staff quality of life. In 2014, Foundation Communities continued to be on the forefront of innovation and integration in the green world. The most notable accomplishments include 1) doubling their solar capacity with the addition of four new arrays. The total 430 kW of power makes the nonprofit the largest private owner of solar in Austin. 2)   Opening the first new affordable housing community in downtown Austin in 45 years in December. Capital Studios was built with the highest possible green standards and is anticipating both a LEED Platinum Home certification as well as the Austin Energy Green Building 5-star designation.

Local, Green Business

  • In the Austin Chronicle’s Best of Austin six Austin EcoNetwork Partners were winners:  Green is the New Black, Dumpster Project, Bicycle Sport Shop, Texas Farmers' Markets at Mueller, Greenling and The Natural Gardener. Also, John Dromgoole, radio personality and owner of the Natural Gardener was voted Best Environmentalist.

  • The Office of Sustainability recognized its 140th Austin Green Business Leader. To date, local businesses in the program represent more than 14,000 employees and almost 11 million square feet of office space.

  • TreeHouse had a great year of growth and development. “Solar power has grown like gangbusters, and the design community is really beginning to see us as one of the best resources for sustainable materials choices in Austin.” And future stores are now on the drawing boards. 2015 is going to be very exciting with the launch of an innovative rainwater conservation program, online appointment scheduling, and tons of new products. They also have a new web url –

  • In 2014, Austin's zero waste neighborhood grocer, in.gredients, turned 2 years old (with a big block party in early August) and continued to: average less waste to landfill per month (~4 lbs) than an American averages per day (~7lbs); strengthen local food systems by supporting small-scale farmers and artisans; educate consumers about seasonal eating and zero waste lifestyles; and be a hub for community gatherings and educational events.

  • Circuit of the Americas won the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme’s 2014 Environmental Award in recognition for sustainability initiatives during the 2014 MotoGP event. COTA received the motorcycling world’s highest environmental recognition due to their ongoing commitment to sustainability and the environment, including year-round recycling and composting initiatives, tall-grass prairie restoration and alternative-energy vehicle races.

  • Green Fern Events (GFE) turned five in April 2014 and celebrated 10 Tons of waste diverted from landfills. These sustainability experts plan flawless conferences, meetings & special events and they are the leading producer of zero waste events. For the third year in a row, this month, GFE is providing conference management support and zero waste services for the US Composting Council’s (USCC) Annual Conference & Trade Show. In 2014 they worked for Cielo Wind Power at the Earth Day Event in Dallas. Green Fern Events is currently accepting RFPs for 2015.

  • Texas Indie Solar had their best year to date in 2014, and were recognized in Orange Magazine for their outstanding Airstream Solar Remodel. They also debuted their Solar Dome — an artistic and functional solar PV sculpture that offers both canopy shade and 2000 watts of off-grid power.

  • The Compost Pedallers composted over 180,000 pounds in 2014 without burning a single drop of fossil fuels. This bike-powered composting program is revolutionizing the way we manage organic waste in Austin. They have developed a network of what they call compHosts, urban agriculture centers like urban farms & community gardens, to turn Austin's waste into fertilizer to grow more local food.  They reached 25 compHost partners this year and plan to triple that number in 2015. Compost Pedallers was featured on a public TV segment and expanded their service area into much of north central Austin with big plans to jump south of the river in 2015.  


Austin EcoNetwork

In 2014 we published 70 editions of EcoNews and two Special Election Editions as well as a Survey of our readers’ environmental priorities for Austin. Until May 2014 we published twice-weekly publishing schedule (Mondays and Thursdays) but after polling our readers and doing a self-assessment we adjusted to once weekly publishing (every Thursday except holidays). We also published 290 blogs written by local authors diving deep into the issues of the day, and promoted 58 green jobs in some of Austin’s most exciting green businesses and organizations. We now offer full-service partnerships which allow our partners to rely on our team to help them spread the word about their events, products and services.

For our Election Navigator Project we developed more than 100 new web pages of content. Within that was:

  • Pages for each of the 11 races for the general election and then re-created 9 new runoff pages for all but the two races decided during the general election.

  • The custom-built Candidate ViewFinder tool displaying the answers to all 56 questions issued to candidates by five leading environmental groups, many of which had never published their answers before.  This involved collecting, compiling, entering and reviewing submissions for all 78 candidates which totaled over 4400 cells of data.

  • A YouTube channel we created with District & Mayor-specific playlists of professionally-recorded one-on-one interviews with 43 candidates. This allowed viewers to hear how confident and knowledgeable candidates are in speaking about their environmental plans and views.  

  • Reviews of the candidates' websites

  • In-depth analysis of the questionnaire answers and the dynamics of each district’s race.

  • Attractive Eco-Key infographics displaying who bothered to answer environmental questionnaires and participate in interviews as well as who got the environmental endorsements.

  • Extensive links to articles, forums and endorsements from other media outlets.

  • The Austin EcoNetwork Mayoral Debate sponsored by channelAustin and hosted by Threadgill's. Ausitn EcoNetwork's Brandi Clark Burton and Texas Campaign for the Environment's Andrew Dobbs were co-moderators of the debate which was livestreamed, broadcast live and mulitple times on channelAustin and video made available on


During the general election season we had nice articles in the Austin Chronicle and Statesman's Salsa Verde Blog and print edition, plus a few whispers in the Austin Monitor. More recently Austin Chronicle featured an in-depth writeup of our Mayoral Runoff Debate.


What started as a way to ensure that the first-ever 10-1 Elections in Austin had substantial environmental content has opened a door to a whole new level of increasing transparency, eliminating redundancy, and improving voters' ability to understand and make informed decisions about who will represent them. We look forward to collaborating with the Think/Voting/Voting App, Leadership Austin and even more groups in the future to help subsequent elections have solid educational content as well.


The Election Navigator was sponsored by Texas Disposal Systems, Kirk Mitchell and nearly 100 other donors. Total contributions of cash and in-kind video services amounted to just under $30,000. We thank everyone who collaborated, contributed, liked, shared and forwarded our content.


We ended the year with over 11,000 subscribers and followers. Specifically we had 7,730 EcoNews subscribers, 1,953 folks like us on Facebook and we have 1,442 Twitter followers plus many more following our hashtags such at #vote4atx.


If you’ve made it this far you must be a list junkie so we’ve got a few more for your entertainment.

Thanks for being a reader of Austin EcoNetwork and we wish you a very happy new year in 2015!

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