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Green Buildings and Texas Renewable Energy

July 11, 2011

The need to mitigate the impacts of climate change, reduce carbon footprint, and reduce dependency on fossil fuel are now some of the top priorities not only in the United States but also by several governments around the world. There is an urgent need to reduce electricity usage in commercial and residential buildings, prompting governments to embrace and support green building initiatives as well as renewable energy.

The State of Texas has always been at the forefront of green building initiatives in the country. In fact, the City of Austin was credited with developing the first ever green building program in the nation way back in 1990 and had several mileage and successes since then. Other cities and areas in the state are also pushing for generating Texas electricity through renewable energy resources, eventually providing green energy that will power these green buildings.

According to the 2011 report from the American Council on Renewable Energy or ACORE, the State of Texas topped renewable energy generation capacity in the country for 2010 together with California and Iowa. While Washington had the most venture capital, Texas enjoyed most of the stimulus and tax credit funding for generating green Texas electricity and green building projects. During the next couple of years, the people of Texas should expect more renewable energy projects to get underway as well as better compliance to green building standards for new and existing buildings in the state.

Texas Green Building Program

Called Austin Energy Green Building or AEGB, the program is one of the country’s most successful initiatives for green and sustainable buildings for both commercial and residential green building initiatives. Throughout the years, better and more comprehensive green building codes are established that will further reduce Texas electricity consumption in these buildings.

Other cities also enacted ordinances that would establish their own Green Building programs such as the 2008 ordinance from the Dallas City Council. The program is divided into two phases with Phase 1 which will end on September 30, 2011. Applicants are required to provide a checklist from approved green building standards such as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and the Green Built North Texas during this phase. Phase 2 will then be initiated by October 1, 2011 and will require applicants to seek for eligibility to LEED Silver or even higher certification levels.

The highest rating for LEED certification is Platinum and only 5.4% of the total number of LEED-certified green buildings has achieved this level. 3% of the total LEED platinum projects in the country are based in Texas. A good example for this is the LEED Platinum certifications received by leading sustainable real-estate developer Jacob White Development which is based in the City of Houston. Platinum certifications were achieved not only through their high performance green building development but also through their 100% use of green Texas electricity.

Since the 2001 legislation of the statewide energy code, the people of Texas has exercised their power to choose green energy options and achieved great success in these initiatives. During its first year, 700 tons of pollution were prevented and more have been controlled over the years after that. As new renewable programs are taking shape and complemented by the a statewide Green Building and energy efficiency program, the state and its people will soon capture the full benefits of a clean and sustainable future.

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