What with all the electric cars and the green municipal buildings, Houston is maybe starting to ditch its reputation for being one of the more polluted cities in the country. Of course, there's still a boatload of pollution, but at least the city government is contributing less to it.
That's a good thing, right?
The National Conference of Mayors seems to think so. They've awarded Mayor Annise Parker first place in the 2011 Mayors' Climate Protection Awards, large-city category.
"Houston is a leader on energy efficiency, and we are proud to receive this national recognition for our work on green buildings," Parker said in accepting the award. "Improving buildings to reduce their energy use and carbon emissions is good practice and good economics."
Parker's office noted that "for the past three years in a row, the Houston metropolitan area has appeared on the EPA's annual 'top 10 list,' which ranks U.S. cities with the most Energy Star certified buildings." The city of Houston also buys a third of its energy from wind energy.
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Parker won the award for such programs as "Green Building Initiatives, including the Houston Green Office Challenge, Energy Efficiency Incentive Program and Municipal Energy Efficiency Program," the city said.
"The Houston Green Office Challenge and Energy Efficiency Incentive Program are unprecedented opportunities to bring citizens into the city-wide sustainability strategy - to make Houston a greener, cleaner and healthier place for ourselves and the future Houstonians who will inherit our great city," Parker said
Here's the citation for the award, which was for cities over 100,000 population:
The city has set forth a multi-year agenda to retrofit all 262 city-owned buildings, including fire stations, police stations, libraries and even performance halls, and has launched its Houston Green Office Challenge (HGOC), including its Energy Efficiency Incentive Program (EEIP), that challenges private commercial building owners/mangers and tenants to reduce energy use, among other objectives.
For city-owned buildings, these improvements are expected to reduce energy use by 30 percent in more than five million square feet of office space. More than 330 private sector partners have already taken up the Green Office Challenge, with the city reimbursing building owners for 20 percent of materials and labor for qualifying improvements.