Housing Authority of the City of Austin

At a Glance


Public Housing Authority

Project Types

Data Analysis, Financial Evaluation and Planning, Sustainability and Energy Management Strategy




Austin, TX


Allen Townsend identified ways that the Housing Authority of the City of Austin (HACA) could reduce costs by improving utility management practices and water leak detection.


The City of Austin, one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S., has experienced rapid rises in the cost of both water and housing. In response, the Housing Authority of the City of Austin (HACA) set out to reduce its operational costs in an effort to cultivating sustainable affordable housing. EDF Climate Corps fellow Allen Townsend was tasked with improving HACA’s utility management practices by developing an effective utility benchmarking plan and identifying strategies to improve utility efficiency across its portfolio of properties.


Townsend developed a customized solution to monitor and verify utility usage, track performance of efficiency improvements and compare energy use against national benchmarks. He also forged a relationship with Austin Energy that allows HACA to receive interval data for all of its properties, as well as tabular data on its tenant’s use.

Townsend turned his attention to developing a scalable water leak detection pilot. After contacting and vetting several utility tracking services and advanced meter infrastructure vendors, he began collecting data and analyzing water use, which allowed him to prioritize leak detection investments in coordination with planned capital improvements.

Finally, Townsend recommended short and long-term initiatives for continuous improvement, such as developing new construction utility performance standards and establishing a utility improvement fund.

Potential Impact

With the business case for expanded investment and efforts, HACA can better achieve its mission of providing sustainable affordable housing. Implementing Townsend’s benchmarking plan and initiatives will synchronize interdepartmental utility tracking, identify underperforming properties, establish investment priorities, monitor and verify efficiency improvements, and report out on building and portfolio performance.

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