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Texas Cities Making Energy Efficiency Possible

April 20, 2011

The people of Texas need not look far to see for themselves how far the green initiatives and energy efficiency programs have progressed in the country, as they can surely glimpse major strides in these areas right in their own cities. The citizens of these cities expect no less from their communities who have taken matters into their own hands with aggressive legislation and implementation of energy efficiency projects.

Recognizing the efforts and made by these Texas cities in investing in green energy and energy efficiency, the Natural Resources Defense Council named these cities as part of the twenty-two Smarter Cities for 2010. These cities were selected for making great headway in integrating sustainability factors into their electricity generation facilities as well as putting together the best practices, testing and adopting new programs and passing legislation that are now paving the way for other cities to follow.

Austin – Leading the Way

As the state capital, Austin is leading the way to sustainability and energy efficiency in its communities through its very own Austin Climate Protection Plan. The goal is to have a 75% increase in energy efficiency for all new constructions by 2015; zero net-energy single family homes; make the entire city fleer carbon-neutral and establish a City Climate Action Team. The city’s own municipal electric provider Austin Energy is participating in the plan by pledging that 30% of Austin Electricity will be provided by renewable energy by 2012, which will then jack up to 100% by 2020.

Houston – Big City Sustainability

To significantly reduce consumption of Houston Electricity, the city has replaced its incandescent traffic lights with the more energy-efficient LED (Light Emitting Diodes) lamps. On top of that, the city now requires all new green constructions to meet at least LEED Silver Standards. Hybrid vehicles will also start plying through the city, reducing reliance on fossil fuels and reduce harmful carbon emissions. To top it all, the city is also raising knowledge and awareness campaigns that would let every Houstonian be aware of their power to choose energy options.

Dallas – Powering Up with Renewables

Since 2008, Dallas has been the top municipal purchaser of renewable energy in the country, buying up to 40 percent of Dallas electricity coming from renewable resources. In terms of energy efficiency, the city has already undertaken major upgrades in four city buildings including City Hall, the Convention Center, and the Dallas Museum of Art. These improvements will include automated HVAC and lighting controls, solar panel installations and use of new energy-efficient equipment.

El Paso – From Sun City to Solar City

El Paso has been nicknamed Sun City because of its 302 days of unadulterated sun each year. This makes it an ideal location for onsite solar energy installations, transforming El Paso from the Sun City to the Solar City. The city has also initiated a $15 million municipal building energy project. This program will save the city up to $20 million of Texas electricity as well as 11,300 tons of greenhouse gases over the next ten years. This is part of its goal to have 20 renewable energy projects already in place by the year 2015.

Denton – Small City, Green City

Denton is a small city but it has the distinction as the city with the most wind power per capita in the nation and aims to be the Greenest City in Texas by the year 2019. Aside from its renewable energy initiatives, the city is also conducting thermal imaging energy audits as part of its energy-efficiency programs which also include the GreenSense Energy Efficiency rebate program, the CFL lightbulb exchange program and the Energy Efficiency Educational Tools for Teachers.

These summaries are keen examples on how a particular Texas city can make great progress towards becoming more sustainable communities. They cannot do this alone and needs both the support of the local government through legislation as well as the full support of the people of Texas as well.

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