When people think of Texas, energy efficiency is not the first thing that comes to mind. After all, people unfamiliar with the Lone Star state imagine a state full of cowboys, rodeos, Tex Mex food, big hair and oil. However, Texans care about the environment too. Three of the state’s biggest cities, Dallas, Austin and Houston, are showing the world that the saying “everything is bigger in Texas” also applies to sustainability efforts. It’s not just the big three cities leaning towards the green lifestyle. Many other Texas green cities are leading the way too. For instance, Corpus Christi is a hub for wind power, which can help lower its greenhouse gas emissions.
Texas Green Cities
There is a list of Texas green cities. How do you get on the list? Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a great start. After all, cities are the worst offenders of greenhouse gasses. Most people live and work in urban and suburban areas, consuming energy along the way. The high demand for energy releases almost three-quarters of carbon dioxide emissions. One way to improve air quality is to significantly reduce our consumption of electrical power.
LEED-certified buildings use less energy, water and fewer resources. Green buildings have a positive effect on people and the planet. It’s also a great way to get on the Texas green cities list. From homes to commercial buildings, LEED certification creates a healthier indoor space, faster lease-up rates and a higher resale value.
Nobody likes sitting in traffic. It can cause stress levels to rise. Plus, all these vehicles on the road are creating harmful greenhouse gas emissions. This is why a city’s public transportation system comes into play in ranking the top Texas green cities. Imagine if there were fewer cars on the road. We’d have shorter commute times and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.
Texas Energy Efficient Cities
Yes, Houston is an oil town and home to the NASA Johnson Space Center. It’s also on the right track to taking its greener side to new heights. Houston makes the Environmental Protection Agency’s list of efficient cities because it has 247 ENERGY STAR® buildings. Plus, Houston’s green power program has made it the number one renewable city in the U.S. In the fiscal year 2017, solar and wind power accounted for nearly one billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) in the city of Houston. Green power represented almost 90% of the city’s total energy consumption5. Houston is also making great strides in its public transportation system. It’s one of the top 25 cities in the U.S. for public transportation, helping residents cut their average commute time by up to 83%3. Check out these other changes done over the last 10 years:
- In 2009, the city sought out performance contractors to rework its wastewater treatment plants to reduce energy use.
- The city started replacing all traffic lights with LED lights. Its Streetlight Pilot Project reportedly saves the city $10,000 daily and $3.6 million annually.
- The Department of Energy gave Houston a $23 million grant to weatherize homes in the Houston area. The city created the Residential Energy Efficiency Program (REEP) to reduce residents’ energy consumption by the installation of energy efficiency upgrades; caulking, weather-stripping, air conditioners, wall and attic insulation, solar screens, refrigerators and more. REEP provides these upgrades to income-qualified residents at no charge.
Dallas is more than just home to America’s NFL team. The city also scores big as one of the top Texas energy efficient cities. Dallas is ranked third in the nation in the EPA’s 2018 top ENERGY STAR® cities list with 468 certified buildings1. The city improves its air quality through electrical energy consumption reduction. The city’s Aviation Department replaced its HVAC system to a more efficient boiler and chillers that reduce emissions. The Public Works and Transportation department replaced 258 traffic lights with LED modules. The Dallas Zoo reduces costs of electricity and battery purchases with irrigation on control clocks. There are over 1,000 LEED certified building projects in the works with many already completed. The Ecology Parks Building and Jack Evans Police Headquarters opened with LEED certification. All one million square feet of The Dallas Convention Center is LEED certified Silver. According to North Texas Green Council, the Convention Center fulfills all of the silver certification qualifications, some include:
- A building must save 20 million kilowatt hours of electricity annually by equipment replacement and retrofitting.
- Water consumption must be reduced by nominally 7 million gallons annually from replacing existing plumbing fixtures.
- Renewable sources must power 100 percent of energy.
- Hot water must be heated by “54 rooftop solar-thermal panels with a conventional gas-fired water heating system.”
Austin is known as the counter-culture rich, music city of the Lone Star state, and environmental consciousness tends to coincide with that attitude. The city is implementing strategies to address the challenges of climate change. Austin ranked number 10 on Mother Nature Networks’ list of America’s greenest cities2. MNN ranked Austin high on their list because of its plan to be carbon neutral by 2020, and the city has a set a goal for net-zero emissions by 2050. Austin is also home to a high number of parks, preserves and outdoor recreation spots with trees and plants that help beautify the environment and clean the air. And, while there are still plenty of cars on the road, the city has been pushing the use of plug-ins since 2005. Austin Energy’s Plug-In EVerywhere network is a program made to advocate the use of hybrid vehicles. As of early 2019, there are more than 250 plug-in stations throughout the area, with more on the way4.
If you’re living or doing business in an area that lets you switch your electricity provider, Vault Electricity can help you select a green energy provider that saves you money and helps improve our quality of life.