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The City of Houston’s Path Toward Sustainable Growth. City of Houston January 2010. Outcome of Existing Initiatives. The City of Houston has reduced its kwh use by 5.8% from 2004 through 2007 even as services have expanded and

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The City of Houston’s Path Toward Sustainable Growth

City of Houston

January 2010

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Outcome of Existing Initiatives

  • The City of Houston has reduced its kwh use by 5.8% from 2004 through 2007 even as services have expanded and

  • Houston’s electricity use has remained flat at ~28.5B kwh annual use from 2003 through 2008

  • Population growth at 1.9% per annum

  • Regional GDP growth of 5.08% per annum (contrasted with a 1.1% annual kwh growth from 1998 – 2003)

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Framework for Sustainability

  • Buildings: Reduce energy consumption per square foot through increased energy efficiency measures

  • Transportation: Migrate to more fuel efficient, cleaner vehicles, fleets across our region

  • Infrastructure: Increase energy productivity utilization and long-term reliability for major infrastructure

  • LED Traffic Lights

  • Combine Heat and Power

  • Energy Supplies: Embrace renewable energy sources to provide reliable, secure power for our region leveraging

  • Wind resources

  • Solar resources

  • Environmental Stewardship:

  • Divert waste flow away from landfills to recycling paths

  • Improve water and air quality across the region

  • Plant a million trees


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More Stringent Building Codes

Comprehensive upgrade of the city’s building codes to make Houston a leader in energy efficiency for new construction and major renovations.

  • ASHRAE 90.1 2004 plus local amendments for commercial construction

    • Latest standard with software compliance support

    • Increased energy efficiency amendments: cool roofs, efficient lighting

    • Approved by City Council; code in effect August 1, 2008

  • IECC 2006 plus additional energy efficiency steps for residential construction

    • 15% increase in energy efficiency (Energy Star standard for homes)

    • Approved by City Council; code to go into effect 10/09

  • Enhancing City’s Code enforcement to support code transformation

    • Summer workshops on new code; increased staff and training

    • Green building resource center to help educate builders and owners

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Residential Energy Efficiency Program

Implement a “neighborhood by neighborhood” energy efficiency program targeted at low income, hard to reach homeowners to reduce kwh consumption.

  • Over 7,000 homes weatherized across 12 different neighborhoods

  • Participation rates approach 50%; home owner satisfaction high

  • 12 – 18% “weather adjusted” kwh reduction; high as 20% over summer months

  • Efficient implementation model; contractors go house to house

  • Agencies in Action program for more comprehensive retrofits including appliance

  • replacements (old refrigerators recycled)

  • City administered program funded by Transmission & Distribution company, TIRZ funds and Affordable Housing funds

  • Working with Clinton Climate Initiative and REPs to develop mass market program

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Embracing Renewable Energy Sources

Large scale purchases of Renewable Power delivered to City of Houston facilities

via long term contracts.

  • COH is to purchase 2 billion kwh (50 MW of power) as of July 1, 2009 from Texas Wind Farms, at a fixed wholesale price of 7.5 cents / kwh to be delivered over the next 5 years.

  • This will supply 32% of our annual requirements for electrical load.

  • The EPA ranks the City of Houston as the number one municipality in terms of the amount of renewable energy purchased.

  • Top 10 of all firms including public and private sector (including such firms as Intel, WholeFoods)

  • Texas leading the nation in Wind power deployment. Nearly 8000 MW of installed capacity. Represents ~6-7% of state’s power generation. CREZ should enable 18,000 MW

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Solar Initiatives

Accelerating deployment of solar power in the Houston region

  • The City is negotiating a long term power purchase agreement for a 10 MW solar plant

  • Small scale demonstration sites: City code enforcement, City Hall Annex, SPARC Park at Tinsley Elementary school and Discovery Green Park

  • 100 kW solar system for the George R Brown Convention Center funded by Houston Endowment ($850K), BP ($100K), and CenterPoint ($50K).

  • Total of 160 kW of solar power installed on City facilities

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DOE Solar America City Initiative

Establish a sustainable infrastructure for Houston led by an Advisory Council

with representatives from COH, academia, endowment, and private sector. BP Solar providing $200,000 in panels as matching funds to DOE grant.

  • Solar neighborhood program: Building 10 “near zero energy” homes in the Houston

  • Hope neighborhoods that include 1-2 kw rooftop solar.

  • Workforce: Green Curriculum established at the HCC including solar and energy

  • efficiency

  • K-12 Programs: Demonstration site at SPARC Park (Tinsley Elementary School),

  • working with HISD to integrate solar

  • Public Outreach: Houston Solar web-site; City of Houston partnering with HREG to

  • host Solar Home Tour on October 3, 2009.

  • Advanced Meter Deployment in region, enables peak shaving applications like solar.

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Energy Savings Performance Work

Significantly reduce energy consumption at City facilities by 20-30% with no upfront capital by financing through utility savings.

  • City of Houston one of the first to contract large scale energy efficiency work:

    • 262 facilities, 7.1 million sq ft under consideration

    • Office buildings, libraries, multi-service centers, police stations, fire stations,

    • health centers

    • Siemens and TAC selected as ESCOs

    • Building audits, energy efficiency work, measurement/verification

    • Audit work underway at 2.5 million sq ft

    • Implementation of energy conservation measures of 3.5 million sq ft underway.

  • Financing driven by lower utility bills available to remove up-front capital costs

  • Center Point energy efficiency incentives available

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Green Building Program

Accelerate market transformation of Green Building through leadership,

showcases, and private sector partnership.

  • Mayor’s Resolution, passed in June 2004, requiring all new City buildings and major

  • renovation to be LEED certified (28 buildings, representing over 1 M sq ft LEED

  • projects underway)

    • Looscan Library is the City’s first LEED Certified building

  • Mayor’s Green Building Advisory Committee to showcase LEED buildings in private

  • sector

  • 97 Houston Hope homes built to Energy Star standard.

  • LEED Quick Start to expedite permitting; graduated fee rebates with LEED certification

  • Over 70% of the new Class A commercial office buildings (over 50K sq ft in size)

  • designing for LEED classification (6 M sq ft committed), nearly half of the residential

  • new homes built are Energy Star.

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Energy Efficient LED Traffic Lights

Replace traffic light signals at all 2400 intersections within the city with energy efficient LEDs.

  • 1,500 intersections completed at end of August 2009; with expectation of completing remaining intersections by end of fiscal year (June 30, 2010)

  • 90% reduction in electricity use by new traffic light LEDs; last significantly longer (7 years versus 1 year)

  • Saves the City $10K/day or $3.6M a year in electricity costs

  • Upgrading heads from 8 inch to 12 inch as part of process

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Fuel Efficient, Clean Vehicles

Lead the way for Houston to migrate to hybrid vehicles with dramatic increases

in fuel efficiency and cleaner emissions.

  • City’s goal to have 50% of non-emergency, administrative fleet (2800 vehicles) by 2010. Currently have 683 hybrids in our fleet (mostly Prius, some Ford Escapes).

    • The City has reduced fleet fuel consumption from 9.4 million gallons in 2005 to 8.8 million gallons in 2009.

  • METRO is purchasing 100 hybrid buses a year through 2011 for a total of 449 hybrid buses. Currently 142 in fleet by end of 2008.

  • Working with HAS and partners to migrate to clean fuel fleets at airport.

  • The City has partnered with utility to retrofit City hybrids with Plug-In Hybrid Technology; currently the City has 10 plug-in hybrid vehicles and 15 charging stations.

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Combined Heat and Power Solutions

Implement CHP solutions at City’s waste water treatment plants to increase

energy utilization & reduce overall grid delivered kwh consumption.

  • Feasibility study carried out by HARC for 69th Street Waste Water treatment plant

  • showed 14% return on investment with 7 year payback. Decision to focus effort at Almeda Sims which is in the process of major facility upgrade.

  • Preliminary engineering development (including environmental permit analysis)

  • kicked off at Almeda Sims Waste Water treatment plant for CHP solution. FY10

  • CIP includes a $10 million line item appropriations for project.

  • Use a Design-Build development process for engineering and construction project.

  • Applied for Department of Energy Grant to implement CHP technology at Almeda Sims and 69th Street Waste Water Treatment Plant

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Wastewater Treatment Plants

Performance contracting at Wastewater Treatment Plants

  • Over 30% of the electricity and natural gas purchased by the City of Houston is used in the treatment of wastewater.

  • Clinton Climate Initiative facilitated having four world class consulting engineering firms analyze four tranches of wastewater treatment plants and make recommendations as to what BMPs should be considered by the City in a performance contract that guarantees reduced energy consumption, fixed construction costs and measurement and verification of the savings.

  • Project: Enter into performance contract(s) with ESCo(s) to obtain a guaranteed energy savings at some or all of the City’s 39 wastewater treatment plants.

    • Costs to be paid for with savings from reductions in energy usage.

    • Lifetime of project: 15-20 years

    • Frees up previously-budgeted Capital Improvement Plan dollars

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Improving Sewer System

Implement a comprehensive sewer pipeline renewal plan for Houston beginning in 2005 through 2015.

  • Collection system comprised of 33.5M feet of gravity collection lines, 1.5M feet of force lines, 420 lift stations, and 39 waste water treatment plants.

  • Increased pipeline rehabilitation and replacement rates over 10-fold from the 1990s from ~0.25% to 3.1% 2005 forward. Renewed 4M linear feet of pipe from FY05 to FY08.

  • Doubled pipe cleaning from goal of 2M feet to over 4M feet cleaned per year. Have cleaned 17.5M linear feet from FY05 to FY08.

  • Strengthened Ordinance including increased pump-out frequency (4 per year) of interceptors (e.g., grease traps) and enforcement. Public education/outreach.

  • Positive impact: 311 calls for System Stoppages decreased from 37,405 in FY03 to 25,017 in FY08. Actual Sanitary Sewage Overflow repairs decreased from ~400/month in FY05 to ~100/month in FY08.

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Houston Green Expo April 16-17 2009 Reliant Park

What is it:

1st Regional Green Expo

Featuring certified green

products and services

5 themes:

Green Building

Energy Efficiency

Renewable Energy

Alternative Transportation

Green Youth Zone

10,000 in attendance

24 consumer focused

education sessions

Nationally known speakers: David Freeman and Joseph Romm

Free and open to the public

Green is here today!

Green makes economic

sense and is good for our


Green products and services

are available today

Living and working a greener,

more sustainable lifestyle good

for us individually, our

businesses, our community,

our world

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CFL Campaigns

Promote and accelerate the adoption of CFLs among Houston homeowners and businesses.

  • Door to door hand-out of 250,000 CFLs to Houston home owners via Mayor’s

  • Youth Summer Job Corp in partnership with Centerpoint

  • 4 bulbs per house plus energy efficiency tips given to estimated 62,500 homes

  • across Houston

  • CenterPoint funding $670K for the effort including bulbs and administration costs

  • “Power to People” web site to promote and educate public on energy efficiency

  • concepts

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Million Trees Plus Planted Goal

Significantly increase the number of trees planted and sustained across the region through a public – private partnership.

  • Significant ramp up in tree plantings from 814 per year prior to 2003 to over 62,600

  • planted from 2004 through 2007 by City of Houston.

  • City of Houston has planted approximately 120,000 trees from October 2008 through August, 2009.

  • $750K in budget to water and maintain trees in 2009. 2000 medians identified for plantings.

  • Public – Private partnership includes Apache, Trees for Houston, Greater Houston

  • Partnership to achieve the Million Trees planted goal.

  • TXDOT Houston plantings: $28.5M funding ($22.8M federal earmark and $5.7M

  • state matching) beginning in 2002. Planted 600K trees from 2002 through 2008.

  • 130K trees contracted to be planted in 08/09. Additional 200K trees planned in

  • 09/10. Total 930K trees planted in the Houston area.

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Diversion of Waste from Area Landfills

Implement a City wide recycling program to divert woody waste and yard waste from area landfills.

  • Potential for diverting up to 150K tons per year or approximately 20% of our waste from

  • area landfills.

  • Currently Renegotiating long term “Put or Pay” contracts with area landfills to enable even greater diversion of waste from area landfills.

  • Setting up mulching / composting facilities in each quadrant of the city to take and

  • process waste. Three quadrants completed and receiving material.

  • Lower tipping fees of $12.45 per ton at mulching facility versus $32 per ton at

  • landfill results in overall annual savings of $2.0 Million to the City.

  • Successful pilot of 47,000 homes conducted over past 6 months. 70% reduction in

  • landfilled material from pilot (these areas have high concentration of green waste).

  • Largest recycling effort with green debris clean up post Hurricane Ike. Nearly 5.5 million cubic yards collected and to be sent to compost, mulch, and other recycling applications.

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Diversion of Waste from Area Landfills

Implement a City wide recycling program to divert woody waste and yard waste from area landfills.

  • City-wide Tree Waste Program implemented January 2009.

  • Potential for diverting up to 150K tons per year or approximately 20% of our waste from

  • area landfills.

  • Currently Renegotiating long term “Put or Pay” contracts with area landfills to enable even greater diversion of waste from area landfills.

  • Setting up mulching / composting facilities in each quadrant of the city to take and

  • process waste. Three quadrants completed and receiving material.

  • Lower tipping fees $12.45 (NW & SW), $7.70 (SE) per ton at mulching facility versus $32 per ton at

  • landfill results in overall annual savings of over $2.0 Million to the City.

  • Largest recycling effort with green debris clean up post Hurricane Ike. Nearly 5.5 million cubic yards collected and sent to compost, mulch, and other recycling applications.


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Diversion of Waste from Area Landfills

Building Materials Reuse Warehouse

  • Open and accepting material.

  • Located at 9003 N. Main Stree

  • Hours: Monday – Friday, 8:30am-4:30pm, closed 12pm-1pm each day.

  • Builders, contractors, remodelers and the general public may all drop off reusable materials.

  • Items are then made available to non-profit groups for re-use at no cost.

  • For more information,


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Diversion of Waste from Area Landfills

City Wide Bio-Bag Recycling Program

  • Bio-Bags Recycling Program implementation January 2010.

  • Biog-Bag meet ASTM D6400 Standards for compostable plastics

  • Manufactures:

    • US Compo Solutions / Biodegradable yard bag, Indaco / Bio-Solo bag

    • Jesco / Al-Pak bag, Poly America / Husky Eco-Guard bag/Ecosafe

  • Potential Retailers who will market the bags:

    • Krogers, HEB, Target, Wal-Mart, Fiesta Markets, Ace Hardware

  • Anticipate diverting up to 60,000 tons/year; disposal savings of approximately $2.0 Million.

  • Disposal savings + bio bag grass sales diverted to city’s Recycling Fund to expand

  • Automated Curbside Recycling Program citywide.

  • The Chapter 39 Ordinance – Solid Waste and Litter Control has been reviewed by the

    Regulatory Affairs Committee and approved by City Council Agenda on 9/2/09.

  • 23

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    Diversion of Waste from Area Landfills

    Automated Recycling Program

    • Increased % Participation

    • Increased Lbs. / Home

    • Glass Included

    • Serving 20,000 homes

    • Grant Funded Pilot with Recycle Bank to begin in November 2009

    • 400 tons/month average diverted from area landfills


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    Improving Houston’s Air Quality

    A regional approach to reduce particularly harmful emissions such as

    Benzene and 1,3-Butadiene.

    • Developed Multi-Pollutant Emission Reduction Plan and Community Wide Emissions Summary for benchmarking purposes.

    • Scientific Task force on health effects of air pollution completed in 2006. Task force

    • members include: Baylor College of Medicine, MD Anderson, Rice, UT Medical

    • Branch, UT School of Public Health. Scientific ranking of pollutants.

    • Benzene Reduction Plan completed in 2007. Need for reduction validated by

    • regional business-led task force. Goal of a 50% reduction by the companies in the

    • plan at about 20 sites.

    • 1,3-Butadiene reduction of 75% at Milby Park monitor from 2004-2008 resulting

    • from City of Houston legal action against TPC plant located 1/3 of a mile

    • from the monitor.


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    Ensure Quality Water Supply for Region

    Implement comprehensive Source Water Protection Program for surface

    water bodies to ensure long-term quality of our water supplies.

    • Installed and operate 20 solar powered lake circulators (Solar Bees®) to mix water near the intake point of the Northeast Water Purification Plant. Installed and operate 3 real time water quality monitors at Lake Houston sampling 6 water quality parameters, connected wirelessly to the USGS and posted on their website.

    • New ordinance in the works (revision of Chapter 23) to prohibit discharge into Lake

    • Houston from boats, houses, subdivisions, others.

    • Partnership with the US Geological Services, $2.5M over 5 yrs, to study characteristics of Lake Houston in response to pollutants. Impact monitoring.

    • Public Outreach: Water Works Museum to open winter 2009. Schools and community

    • programs to engage public to raise awareness and educate.

    • External stakeholder group to convene in September 2008 to develop a regional strategy and

    • implementation plan for quality upstream water sources. Immediate issues include

    • upstream sand mining, fertilizer run-offs.