Houston drafts city climate action plan   - Smart Energy Decisions

Energy Efficiency, GHG Emissions, Sourcing Renewables  -  July 26, 2019

Houston drafts city climate action plan  


The city of Houston released a draft of its city climate action plan on July 25 that calls for increasing the generation of renewable energy, greater investment in “green infrastructure” and expanding the use of alternative modes of transportation by making it easier for people to walk, ride their bikes and use public transit. A full action plan is expected to be released by the end of the year.

According to a release from the city of Houston’s Office of Sustainability, the plan was developed in reaction to concerns about the limited federal response to comate change. “Ten years ago, a mayor in Houston probably wouldn’t be talking about climate change, maybe even five years ago, maybe even three years ago,” Mayor Sylvester Turner. “But things have changed. It’s a new reality, and now we have an obligation to respond in a responsible fashion.”

Houston has one of the largest per capita greenhouse emissions in the country. In 2014, Houston residents and businesses generated nearly 35 million tons of greenhouse gases through carbon-fueled buildings, cars, and waste. If nothing is done, this number is projected to rise to at least 45 million per year by 2050. Buildings represent the largest source of emissions for the city at 49% followed closely by transportation at 47%. Manufacturing, waste, and other emissions account for the remaining 4%.

Climate change is increasing the city’s flood risk, as well as the intensity and frequency of storms, and while the problem can’t be fixed overnight, Turner told about 100 attendees at a city hall event where the plan was announced. “If we take bold actions to lead our city on a sustainable path, we will leave behind a better Houston for future generations.”

“We need to make sure that the next big thing in renewable energy, in carbon capture technology, in green technology comes from Houston,” said Lara Cottingham, the city’s chief sustainability officer. “That’s how we keep and maintain that proud leadership as the energy capital of the world.”

The city’s plan is divided into the following four areas with goals, strategies, and actions:


  • Shift regional fleet to electric vehicles (EV) and alternative renewable fuels.
  • Reduce vehicle miles traveled (VMT) per capita.
  • Provide equitable mobility.

Energy Transition

  • Increase local solar generation and storage.
  • Increase renewable energy generated outside the city limits.
  • Invest in green infrastructure and carbon capture technology to offset emissions.

Building Optimization

  • Reduce building energy use and maximize savings.
  • Expand investment in energy efficiency.
  • Optimize building operations through investing in skilled local jobs.

Materials Management

  • Improve public awareness of sustainable material consumption and disposal choices.
  • Reduce tonnage of landfilled waste.
  • Protect public health and the environment through optimized waste operations/management.

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