Houston's air may be a national joke, but we do score the occasional surprise good showing in environmental matters.
The Environmental Protection Agency today put out its list of the Top 25 cities with the highest number of energy-efficient buildings, and Houston came in a solid sixth.
The EPA counts 133 buildings here, with 64 million square feet of space, as energy-efficient. That's a savings of almost $74 million, and enough electricity to power 53,400 homes for a year.
The bad news: Last year we were third. But other cities have begun to get on the bandwagon that Houston was on early.
"These cities see the importance of taking action on climate change," said Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Air and Radiation. "Communities from Los Angeles to Louisville are reducing greenhouse gases and cutting energy bills with buildings that have earned EPA's Energy Star."
The top three cities are Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and San Francisco, liberal bastions all of them. The comes the heartland: Denver, Chicago, Houston and, ummm, Lakeland, Florida.
The EPA ranked cities on the number of energy-efficient buildings, but that can skew the results. Sixth-place Houston, for instance, has twice the number of square feet in energy-efficient buildings than third-place Denver.
Hippieland Austin, by the way, comes in only 18th, with 55 buildings covering eight million square feet.
Some day that Hill Country burg will become a shining beacon of environmentalism like Houston.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.