2018 Annual Report, Office of Sustainability, City of Austin
A message from Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk
Sustainability is a foundational anchor that underpins everything the City of Austin does to serve our community. It involves finding a balance among three things: 1) prosperity and jobs, 2) conservation and the environment, and 3) community health, equity, and cultural vitality. Striking this balance protects Austin's quality of life now and for future generations.
The Office of Sustainability provides valuable leadership and counsel on many initiatives throughout the city. In 2018, these efforts resulted in greener municipal operations, a reduction in community-wide greenhouse gas emissions, and successfully protecting and preserving urban farmland. The Office also provided Austinites with information on how to reduce their carbon footprint, and resources to make their businesses or local schools a little greener.
Sustainability speaks to all of us who call Austin home — we want to protect this place and make it even better. When we all work to make sustainability a key part of our day-to-day activities, our entire community can thrive.




Protect and improve Austin's quality of life now and for future generations by leading efforts to achieve:
  • net-zero community-wide greenhouse gas emissions
  • a healthy and just local food system
  • a climate resilient and adaptive city



Two people pictured in graphic circles with the numbers "1" and "2" next to them. Background is teal and orange.
Six people pictured in graphic circles with the numbers "3", "4", "5", "6", "7" and "8" next to them. Background is teal.
Four people pictured in graphic circles with the numbers "9", "10", "11", and "12" next to them. Background is teal and orange.
1. EDWIN MARTY, Food Policy Manager
2. AMANDA ROHLICH, Senior Business Process Consultant

3. ZACH BAUMER, Climate Program Manager
4. CAVAN MERSKI, Senior Analyst
5. LEWIS LEFF, Senior Business Process Consultant
6. MARC COUDERT, Environmental Program Manager
7. RODRIGO LEAL, Climate Resilience Associate
8. CELINE RENDON, USDN Equity Fellow
9. AMY PETRI, Communications Manager
10. SHANNON WISNER, Digital Media Strategist
11. MARY K. PRIDDY, Education and Outreach Coordinator

12. PAULA CAMACHO, Administrative Assistant


Cover art for the State of the Food System Report
Cover art for the Climate Resilience Action Plan
City of Austin skyline at sunset with a graphic overlay of two feet, a lightbulb, and recycling symbol. Text reads #RethinkChallengeATX Oct. 23-30

Food Team

State of the Food System Report — Outlines the progress that has been made toward achieving a healthy and just local food system in Austin — from farm to fork. See the report>
Urban Roots Expansion — Helped facilitate a lease agreement to allow local non-profit Urban Roots to train youth to grow food on City-owned property.
Good Food Purchasing — Facilitated steps toward local and healthy food procurement practices with AISD, UT Austin, and the Austin Convention Center.

Climate Team

Climate Resilience Action Plan — Collaborated with 13 City departments to prepare City assets and operations for extreme weather-related impacts. See the plan>
Getting to Net-Zero Analysis — created a model of greenhouse gas reduction potential and costs for actions in the Austin Community Climate Plan.
Custom Utility Dashboard — Designed a utility bill oversight tool for City building managers to help them spot potential spikes in usage and cost.

Communications Team

Austin's First Climate Change Awareness Month — Hosted a community-wide carbon reduction challenge with Mayor Adler and screened a simulcast from Project Drawdown in October.
Bright Green Future Grant Promotion — Produced a series of videos about the Bright Green Future Grant Program to help increase the number and diversity of grant applications. Watch the main video>
Talk Green to Me Series Live on Social Media — Held three sustainability-related talks at the Central Library that were live-streamed on Facebook to reach a larger audience.


Climate Change Awareness Month
Mayor Steve Adler proclaimed October as the first ever Climate Change Awareness Month in Austin, kicking off a series of awareness-related activities and events. As part of the effort, our office hosted the Mayor's Carbon Reduction Challenge using the Rethink/ mobile app, and Austinites surpassed our greenhouse gas reduction goal by over 30,000 pounds of CO2. Our top winner was Jesus Garcia (pictured here), who won an electric bike for his efforts.
During October, we also hosted a Reddit AMA session, live-streamed a Project Drawdown keynote address at the Alamo Drafthouse, and celebrated our community challenge winners with a proclamation at City Hall.
Jesus Garcia wearing a grey shirt standing in front of a green plant with his thumb up and smiling at the camera. He is holding a certificate that reads "Certificate of sustainable achievement" Jesus Garcia


Bright Green Future School Grants

The Bright Green Future Grants Program provides funding for school-based sustainability projects at Austin-area schools. Projects like composting systems, rainwater harvesting, organic gardens, rain gardens, bicycle academies, and wildlife habitats are identified by local educators and through campus EcoAudits. Projects that are selected to receive funding actively engage students and members of the community with hands-on involvement and learning. Here's a look at what was accomplished through the program for the 2017-18 school year:

Map of project locations:

  • In 2018, 64 projects* were funded at Austin-area K-12 schools.
  • 28,763 students participated in a sustainable project at their school campus.

*Includes funding for EcoAudit projects managed by EcoRise
319,000 gallons of water saved
20,000 bees saved or relocated
12,350 pounds of veggies produced
Group of five people posing for the camera on farmland during sunrise. They are all wearing "Urban Roots" shirts.

Urban Roots Youth Leadership

In December 2018, City Council approved a lease for Urban Roots at the City-owned Winnebago property, ensuring that sustainably-grown food, youth leadership development, open space, and equity all have a place in Austin's future.
This five-year-long effort was shepherded by the City's Food Policy Manager Edwin Marty, and involved countless other staff from various City departments and community groups.
Photo by: Urban Roots

Public Outreach & Engagement

  • 254,068 people reached through digital channels
  • 74 community events and sessions attended
  • 12,639 people reached at
    community events and sessions
Woman speaking with a young girl about her science project.


2018 Platinum Award for Climate Change in Austin video, Hermes Creative Awards
Smart Cities 2018 Smart 50 Award for Electric Drive (led by Austin Energy)
Austin Green Awards Project of the Year for the Austin Central Library (led by Austin Public Library)


  • 12 Community members featured on our blog
  • 524 Social media "likes" on Net-Zero Hero content
Image of a woman sitting on a wood bench with windows in the background. There is a large graphic next to her that reads "Rosie Trevino Net-Zero Hero. The woman has short, blue hair and is wearing a blue and grey striped sweater.

Austin Green Business Leaders

Photo of a woman and a man smiling. The man has his arm around the woman. Painted lettering on the building reads "i lend you so much"
Graphic: Austin Green Business Leader logo, 14 new businesses, 19 renewals, 541 new employees, 245,787 square feet of office space, 6 platinum, 6 gold, 2 silver, "Green business is good business"
A message from Chief Sustainability Officer Lucia Athens
I am pleased to present this annual update on our team's ongoing journey to protect Austin's quality of life now, and for future generations.
The work of sustainability is never done, but we have made a lot of progress over the past year that we are excited to share. I look forward to continue working together toward an equitable and sustainable future for our community, and for the planet.

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