Texas Torchbearers

Cities Leading the Way to a Clean Energy Future
Released by: Environment Texas Research and Policy Center

Due in large part to smart state policies in the late 90s and early 2000s, Texas has become the undisputed national leader in wind power. But in other areas of the “clean-tech industry,”the state of Texas is falling behind. In the most recent Clean Edge report, Texas ranked 22nd in the nation for U.S. leaders of clean tech. Texas cities have stepped in to pick up the slack, making an impact on energy waste reduction and renewable energy production, alternative vehicles, and green buildings. This report analyzes the environmental and energy efforts of the ten largest cities in Texas.

By reviewing their policies on building codes, solar production, purchasing of renewable energy, requirements for green building certification, and number of electric vehicle recharge stations, we ranked the cities based on what they are doing, and what they could be achieving.

We determined that Austin is certainly doing the most of the Texas cities. Austin has successfully adopted the most energy efficient building code available, the 2012 International Energy Conservation code, has set strong solar goals and policies, purchases 100% of city power from renewable energy sources, requires new public building construction to meet high green building standards, and has many accessible electric charging stations available throughout the city.

San Antonio, Houston and Dallas are not far behind Austin. All of these cities require new public buildings to meet environmental building certifications. San Antonio has spurred significant local solar development, and Dallas and Houston purchase nearly half of their municipal electricity from renewable energy sources like wind. San Antonio and Dallas would benefit from stronger building codes that improve energy efficiency, while Houston’s solar production is negligible due to a lack of utility-supported solar power.

El Paso, Plano, Arlington and Fort Worth have some green policies set in place, but should strive to follow the paths of the top five cities, making gains in each category. Corpus Christi and Laredo are barely skimming the surface of implementing green policies, even though they have adopted some general sustainability goals. These cities would see major benefits in pollution reduction, and energy savings, as well as adding new jobs to their local economy, if they began to plan and implement policies for a greener future.