No one would ever accuse Houston of being the most environmentally friendly city in the world. We have long commutes, stagnant atmospheric conditions during the hottest months of the year leading to increased ozone, and more than our fair share of refineries surrounding us, which is why it is never surprising to see us ranked poorly in environmental standards.
One exception seems to be the government's Energy Star list, which ranks cities based on the number of Energy Star-rated buildings. An Energy Star rating means those buildings consume 35 percent less energy and release 35 percent less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than average buildings.
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This year, Houston ranks seventh on that list. But, before you go running to call your friends in Portland -- the ones who drive the electric car, reuse their plastic utensils and claim their carbon footprint is actually a negative number -- to extol our virtues, keep in mind that we were actually third on this list two years ago and that, as we reported on this blog, it doesn't mean all that much.
It gets worse.
Last year, we ranked 26th out of 43 cities in our overall environmental ranking. In January of this year, the annual list of most polluted cities was released and we came in seventh in worst ozone pollution.
The good news is we weren't in the top ten in short-term or year-round particle pollution. Hooray!