City of Houston
United States

Population: 2239558
Area of jurisdiction: 1625.2 km2

Commitments

  Community Government
Absolute base year GHG reduction target: n/a 5% by 2007 (2005)
Baseline scenario (BAU) GHG reduction target: n/a n/a
Fixed-level GHG reduction target: n/a n/a
Carbon intensity reduction target: n/a n/a
Renewable energy target: n/a n/a
Energy efficiency target: n/a n/a
Government and Community: CO2(e) targets

Performance

Community GHG Emissions
Total ( n/a ):  0 tCO2e
Government GHG Emissions
Total ( 2010 ):  1,227,491 tCO2e

Other available GHG inventories: 2005

Mitigation actions

2009 Emissions Reduction Plan Update
This document presents a summary of the 14 strategies undertaken by the City under and additional projects that have been developed since the publication of the MERP to reduce emissions and costs. This is an update as to the status of the projects listed in the MERP as of December, 2009. Each of the fourteen strategies is assessed for progress in reaching emission reduction goals. Start year 2009
Sector  
Type Policy/Strategies/Action Plans
Status Completed
File download
One Bin for All
The City is proposing a new technological innovation, One Bin for All, that will allow residents to discard all materials in one bin, treating ”trash” as valuable assets, dramatically increasing recycling using game changing technologies. This innovation was chosen by Bloomberg Philanthropies as one of 5 winners (out of 305 submissions) of the Mayors Challenge, a competition to incentivize innovation in city government and improve citizens' lives. This cost-neutral, technological innovation is a paradigm shift, changing how people think about waste and recycling. The concept of “trash” will be extinct and replaced by an understanding that all discarded material has value and can be recycled. Houston will apply proven technologies and new processes, redefining municipal solid waste from a liability to a valuable asset. This first-of-its-kind innovation uses technology in a way that has never been done before. This approach has the potential for cities across the globe to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save money and create high value materials. Houston’s innovation will: • Provide every residence with curbside One Bin for All services; • Decrease the volume of waste sent to landfills; • Reduce air pollution; and, • Manage waste and recycling costs. Houston will divert up to 75% of its waste. Houston has evidence the technology can work, significantly increasing its recycling rate at a price that is affordable. In 2012, Houston won $1 million in support for this program from Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayor's Challenge. Start year  
Sector Waste
Type Regulatory
Status In progress
File download
Electric Vehicle Charging Stations
The City has installed many electric vehicle charging stations - some for municipal use and some for public use. 28 Blink charging stations were installed for public use, many in parks and libraries, in 2011 and 2012 using grant funding. The City has been working with Ecotality on the EV Project and will be installing another 68 Blink charging stations in 2013, mostly for public use. It also has 25 Gridbot and 15 Chargepoint charging stations for municipal fleet use only. Electric vehicle supply equipment companies have also been working with private businesses to install charging stations in parking lots for public use. Start year 2011
Sector Transport
Type Technical/Infrastructure investment
Status Completed
File download
Houston Bike Share
The City launched its bike share program, Houston Bike Share, in May 2012, which is an active transportation alternative for the City. Houston’s initial phase has been successful and, received funding support from Blue Cross Blue Shield TX and the US Department of Energy, totaling nearly $2 million. On April 3, 2013, Houston B-cycle, expanded from 3 to 21 stations and from 18 to 175 bicycles. This Phase II expansion creates a presence not only in Downtown, but also in the East End, Midtown, Montrose and the Museum District/Hermann Park with four of the stations located at key METRORail stops. Phase III expansion discussions and planning include the Texas Medical Center and local universities, as well as additional neighborhoods. Pollution, traffic, and rising oil costs are just a few of the reasons why Houstonians need options for getting around. Start year 2012
Sector Transport
Type Technical/Infrastructure investment
Status Completed
File download
Energy Efficiency Incentive Program
The City of Houston launched the Energy Efficiency Incentive Program allowing eligible commercial building owners to apply for funding to make energy efficiency improvements and reduce utility expenses and greenhouse gases. The City has committed approximately $3 million for the program and will provide incentives to offset the up-front implementation costs. Over half the funds have been set aside for Class B and C buildings. Start year  
Sector  
Type Fiscal/Financial mechanism
Status In progress
File download
Green Office Challenge
The Houston Green Office Challenge (www.houstongoc.org), launched in September 2010, invites commercial office owners/managers and tenants in Houston to increase their environmental and economic performance in cleaner transportation choices, energy conservation, property management/tenant engagement, water efficiency and waste reduction. To date, the Houston Green Office Challenge has over 400 businesses, representing more than 70 million square feet of office space, participating in the program. The City plans to continue the program for a second year to enable participants to fully implement their sustainability initiatives. The program also will be expanded to include other businesses, including NASA’s Johnson Space Center and the Houston Independent school District. In 2011, Mayor Annise Parker, and the Houston Green Office Challenge and Energy Efficiency Incentive Program, were selected as the nation’s top winner for large cities in the 2011 Mayors’ Climate Protection Awards, an initiative sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Mayors. The annual awards program recognizes mayors for innovative practices in their cities that increase energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In the first year, Green Office Challenge participants collectively reduced energy usage by 28 million kilowatt hours, reduced water usage by 74 million gallons, and more than 90 percent recycled in the office, diverting 40 percent of waste from the landfill. Start year 2010
Sector  
Type Public Participation/Stakeholder engagement
Status In progress
File download
Yard Waste Recycling
The City launched a mandatory yard waste composting program in April 2010 and has diverted 60,000 tons of yard waste in the last year, with disposal savings of $2 million. The City has also deployed single stream recycling to one-third of singlefamily households and is working on full deployment. Start year 2010
Sector Waste
Type Regulatory
Status Completed
File download
Light Rail
Houston METRO’s comprehensive light rail plan plays a dynamic role in the city's life, providing smarter, more energy-efficient transportation options in the form of five new rail lines. The lines will connect citizens and visitors to every major activity center in our metropolitan area. They’ll provide exceptional new opportunities for residents and businesses alike. METRO is the local transportation authority. Currently, Houston is expanding its light-rail infrastructure with three new light-rail lines currently under construction and two more in the works, going from 7.5 miles to 39 miles. With this $4 billion investment, the expanded light-rail system will be an essential element of the city's plans to meet the transportation and environmental challenges of today and tomorrow, easing our growing traffic congestion, improving the city's air quality and changing the way Houston moves. Start year  
Sector Transport
Type Technical/Infrastructure investment
Status Completed
File download
Bikeways
The City of Houston offers over 300 miles interconnected bikeway network spanning across 500 square miles. The network includes bike lanes, bike routes, signed-shared lanes and shared-use paths, commonly referred to as ‘hike and bike’ trails, which includes rails to trails, and other urban multi-use paths. In addition to these bicyclist transportation facilities, there are over 80 miles of hike and bike and nature trails found in City of Houston parks. Start year  
Sector Transport
Type Technical/Infrastructure investment
Status Completed
File download
Houston Fleet Share
The City started Houston Fleet Share in August 2012. Through this program, 50 city-owned fleet vehicles – including 25 Nissan Leaf EVs and other plug-in electric and hybrid vehicles – were outfitted with Zipcar’s proprietary car sharing technology for use by city employees across numerous departments. This program is the first of its kind to utilize electric vehicles. The program is designed to help the City of Houston improve efficiency, promote sustainability and save money - all without sacrificing employee mobility. Start year 2012
Sector Transport
Type Technical/Infrastructure investment
Status Completed
File download
City Gardens and Farmers Market Initiative
The City Gardens and Farmers Market Initiative supports urban gardens and markets that inspire and empower people of diverse backgrounds to grow, eat and buy local and organic food. The initiative improves health and nutrition, creates community and supports valuable local businesses that together sustain and improve the environment. The City Gardens and Farmers Market initiative includes: • City Gardens at Bob Lanier Public Works Building: 25 vegetable container gardens on both sides of a 27-story skyscraper in downtown Houston. • City Hall Victory Garden: 20 vegetable container gardens, berry trestle and fruit trees in Tranquility Park, next to City Hall. • Houston Permitting Center: Five raised garden beds next to an adaptive reuse building that is going for LEED Gold Certification. • City Hall Farmers Market: supports local and organic farmers and assists over 40 “micro businesses” through a weekly Wednesday farmer’s market at City Hall. The public can enjoy lunch from vendors or pick up groceries while at the same time supporting local, fresh and sustainable food all amidst Houston’s dramatic downtown urban setting. Top chefs perform cooking demos and there are weekly musical guests. And non-profits often bring youth to the market. Start year  
Sector Agriculture, Forest and Other Land Use (AFOLU)
Type Policy/Strategies/Action Plans
Status Completed
File download
City Recycling
The City recycles in all City facilities. The new recycling program expanded the recycling opportunities at City building and facilities to include plastics # 1- 7 (except Styrofoam and film bags); aluminum and bi-metal cans; glass and cardboard in addition to all types of paper. The City launched a mandatory yard waste composting program in April 2010 and has diverted 60,000 tons of yard waste in the last year, with disposal savings of $2 million. Houston's new proposed program, One Bin for All, which will allow residents to discard all materials in one bin, treating trash as valuable assets, dramatically increasing recycling using game changing technologies, will also be applied to the municipal sector. Expected reduction of 1000 tCO2 over project lifetime. Start year  
Sector Waste
Type Regulatory
Status Completed
File download
LED Traffic Lights
The City has completed replacing the incandescent bulbs at all of its 2,450 signalized intersections with LEDs, which are 75% more energy efficient. In addition, the City is now realizing over $3.6 million a year in savings or around $10,000 in savings per day. Expected reduction of 7000 tCO2 over project lifetime. Start year  
Sector Facilities
Type Technical/Infrastructure investment
Status Completed
File download
Green Power Purchasing
Starting in 2010 and continuing into 2012, the City of Houston has been designated as the number one municipal purchaser of green power and the sixth largest overall purchaser in the nation, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The City currently purchases 50 megawatts, or 35% of the total electricity load, from wind farms and has a goal to increase the city's usage of green power to 50% in 2013. Start year 2010
Sector  
Type Policy/Strategies/Action Plans
Status Completed
File download
Fuel Efficient Fleet
The City of Houston is replacing older, high mileage equipment in order to reduce current and future maintenance costs, increase vehicle reliability, and decrease emissions. Three specific measures have been planned to achieve this goal of Fleet Use and Replacement – Reduce fleet size, Rejuvenate the current fleet, and Better track/monitor fleet. The City has the 4th largest municipal hybrid fleet in the nation. Approximately 50 percent of the City’s nonspecialty, light-duty fleet have been replaced with hybrid vehicles. 25 Nissan Leafs are currently in the municipal fleet and more to be added in 2013. The City is consolidating its motor pool, resulting in a 34 percent decrease in the size of the City fleet, 35,000 gallons of fuel savings, and reduced emissions. The City also has an anti-idling policy for municipal vehicles (A-P 2-2 Section 7.2.29). Start year  
Sector Transport
Type Technical/Infrastructure investment
Status In progress
File download
City Facilities Energy Retrofits
A total of 297 City facilities are expected to achieve guaranteed energy use reductions of 30%, saving over 22 million kWh of electricity every year, with paybacks of, on average, less than ten years. The City will use Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds (QECBs) to fund the next tranche of energy efficiency work in the City's libraries. Expected to save 24000 tCO2 over project lifetime. Start year  
Sector  
Type Technical/Infrastructure investment
Status In progress
File download
Houston Airport System Energy Reduction
The energy reduction measures originally identified by the Houston Airport System (such as installing motion detectors for lighting specific interior areas, installing control measures such as photo cells, clocks and/or timers on all outside lighting, cutting the energy supply to unoccupied retail space, and requiring lights in electrical closets be turned off when not in use) mostly have been implemented. Additional measures targeted HVAC systems of the HAS Administration Building and the Technical Services Buildings. HVAC systems are now shut off when the buildings are not in use. It is important to note that the Houston Airport System is experiencing a period of accelerated growth. This needs to be monitored to ensure that the progress achieved to date is not negated by expected growth. The General Services Department instituted a supply-side energy management program in 2006. 6she's million square feet of municipal buildings have been retrofitted since 2008. The City purchased 186 energy misers, energy saving devices, for cold beverage vending machines in City facilities. Calculated to save 9200 tCO2e over project lifetime. Start year  
Sector  
Type Technical/Infrastructure investment
Status Completed
File download
LEED Buildings
The City adopted a Green Building Resolution, which set a target of LEED Silver certification for new construction, replacement facilities and major renovations of City of Houston-owned buildings. As of September 2011, commercial buildings in Houston had to comply with ASHRAE 90.1-2007 or 2009 IECC commercial energy code. The City has also passed a mandatory cool roof requirement for new construction and roof replacements. Start year 2011
Sector  
Type Policy/Strategies/Action Plans
Status Completed
File download

Adaptation actions

Bayou Greenways Initiative
In November, 2012, city voters passed a bond referendum for the Bayou Greenways Initiative. Over the next ten years, the Bayou Greenways will add 4,000 acres of new and equitably distributed green spaces that can also serve the function of flood control and storm water quality enhancement. It will also complete 300 miles of continuous all-weather hike and bike trails that will meander through those greenways — an amenity unparalleled in the nation. Developing green corridors along the bayous with connected trails bring a smart and sustainable resolution to alleviate the City’s green space and flooding challenges. There are numerous other benefits associated with utilizing the City’s bayou corridors for green space and recreation: • Reduced doctor visits due to increased access to recreation opportunities; • Increase in use of alternative transportation for commuting along the hike and bike trails; • Increase in property values along the corridor resulting in increased revenue to the city; • Increased flood prevention due to the opportunity for wet-bottom detention areas in the newly created green spaces; • Increased water quality due to the simple plantings located strategically along the bayous, the wet-bottom detention ponds, and reduced runoff; • Increased air quality due to increased CO2 sequestration by newly planted trees and grasses, and use of trails for alternative transportation; and • Change in Houston’s image to attract the best and brightest to our city. Start year 2012
Sector  
Type Policy/Strategies/Action Plans
Status In progress
File download
Urban Grows
In November 2012, the City launched the Urban Grows initiative. Urban Grows, part of the City of Houston’s Healthy Houston initiative, aims to help communities build vegetable gardens, farms and orchards on vacant land in areas with poor access to healthy fresh foods, often referred to as food deserts. The City of Houston will provide lots through its LARA program (Land Assemblage Redevelopment Authority), which works to redevelop tax-delinquent and abandoned properties. Community members, partnering with local non-profits, foundations or churches, will then work to transform these vacant lots into usable, productive and attractive green spaces. Urban Grows is the first initiative launched as part of Mayor Parker’s new program, Healthy Houston, which is designed to reduce obesity and increase healthy eating and exercise. Healthy Houston will promote programs, policies and actions designed to reduce food deserts, promote the availability of locally-grown foods, encourage the development of sustainable food systems and promote recreational opportunities. Urban Grows will: • Encourage urban agriculture in neighborhoods, utilizing vacant City property • Improve access to healthy, affordable and locally produced food for all neighborhoods • Support education regarding the benefits of sustainable agriculture Urban Grows will complement the City’s existing efforts, including the launch of the City Hall Farmers Market and farmers markets at the City’s multi-service centers; new vegetable container gardens downtown and throughout the City; a Grocery Access Task Force that works with grocers on providing economic tools and incentives to help spur more supermarket and grocery development in areas where they are needed. Start year 2012
Sector  
Type Policy/Strategies/Action Plans
Status In progress
File download
Mobile Refridgeration Units
The City of Houston acquired 17 SPACE units, which are mobile solar generators made with shipping containers. The generators are designed for emergency relief efforts and were purchased to serve in the recovery efforts from future hurricanes. The units contain refrigerators and air conditioning to provide relief and also to allow emergency equipment to be hooked up when needed. Start year  
Sector  
Type Technical/Infrastructure investment
Status Completed
File download
Water Conservation Campaign
Mandatory water conservation measures were implemented to stabilize water levels in Lake Houston in the summer of 2011. While restrictions were mandatory, the measures started with warnings and an informational campaign to citizens. Those who did not comply after a warning were issued fines. In addition, to seek recommendations and take action to promote water conservation measures, the Mayor created a Water Conservation Task Force in 2012. Recommendations are being reviewed now. Start year 2011
Sector Water Resources
Type Education/Awareness Raising
Status Completed
File download
White Roofs
Part of Houston's Commercial Energy Conservation Code is a mandate for cool roofs. Low slope roofs up to 2:12 shall be provided with a roof covering where the exterior surface has: (a) a minimum total solar reflectance of 0.70 when tested in accordance with one of the solar reflectance test methods listed below, and (b) a minimum thermal emittance of 0.75 when tested in accordance with one of the thermal emittance test methods listed below. Start year  
Sector  
Type Regulatory
Status Completed
File download
Heat Emergency Plan - Cooling Centers
The City of Houston activates Heat Emergency Plan and opens cooling centers (e.g. city libraries, multi-service centers, and park and recreation centers) to citizens without access to air conditioning during heat waves. Start year  
Sector  
Type Policy/Strategies/Action Plans
Status Completed
File download