• Internal energy efficiency policies and green building commitments help ensure cities are leading by example in energy efficiency and other sustainability efforts. Plano, Houston, and Fort Worth have developed policies around temperature and energy use in city facilities.
  • Nearly every major city in Texas including Austin, Denton, San Antonio, and Houston has or is in the process of developing comprehensive climate action plans that go beyond energy efficiency, water conservation, and clean energy and address issues of resiliency and equity.
  • The energy-water nexus concept acknowledges that energy and water systems are interconnected and water conservation leads to energy conservation for cities. Cities contribute to state mandated water conservation planning through Water Conservation Five-Year Work Plans.

Internal Policies

Internal policies help ensure cities are leading by example in energy efficiency and other sustainability efforts. Many cities across Texas have adopted internal energy efficiency, green building, and other sustainability-focused policies to help formalize their commitment to leadership.

Energy Efficiency Policies

  • Case Study: Plano’s Temperature Policy
    In August 2008, the City of Plano created an internal energy policy establishing specific temperature set points for buildings and restrictions on space heaters and personal fans. The policy also established roles and responsibilities that included energy conservation expectations for all city employees, and mandates for technology services, sustainability, and facilities departments. Read the full City of Plano Temperature Policy case study for more detail on the policy development and implementation.
  • Houston Energy Efficiency Policy
    Houston’s internal Energy Efficiency Policy establishes energy protocols for heating and cooling; ventilation and humidity control; lighting; domestic water; general maintenance; equipment use; and staff education and awareness. Notable features include specific temperature set points and a mandate for all operating departments to complete annual reviews of the energy consumption and efficiency for the property in which they are responsible.
  • Fort Worth Air Temperature Regulation
    Similar to Plano and Houston’s policies, Fort Worth’s Air Temperature Regulation policy establishes temperature set point ranges for cooling and heating of municipal facilities. In order to make sure occupants remain comfortable the policy is based in ASHRAE 55-2004 Thermal Environmental Conditions for Human Occupancy, a national guidelines for interior thermal comfort. The policy is scheduled for annual revision so references to standards such as ASHRAE 55 can be updated to current versions.

Building Certification Policies

Several Texas cities have extended their commitment to reducing their municipal environmental impact to new construction. By committing to achieving LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for new municipal construction cities help ensure new buildings address not only energy and water conservation but also are building design and construction practices consider low impact site selection and design, sustainable building materials, and indoor environmental quality.

  • City of Austin Green Capital Improvements
    The City of Austin policy committed to minimum LEED Silver certification for all new construction of municipal buildings.
  • City of Plano LEED certification policy
    The policy states that new construction and remodels shall pursue highest level of LEED certification possible and details specific design strategies to be encouraged including passive solar and daylight, energy efficiency HVAC design, and indoor air quality.
  • Houston Green Building Resolution
    The policy established LEED certification as a standard for new construction, replacement facilities and major renovations of city of Houston-owned buildings and facilities with more than 10,000 square feet of occupied space.

Sustainability Coordinating Policy

As detailed in the Energy Management Module, coordination across city departments is essential for internal sustainability initiatives. Houston created the Environmental Coordinating Council that includes representatives from at least 9 departments. The policy and resulting council helps create synergies, collaboration, and idea generation across departments.

Community Policies

Cities across Texas have also established policies and action plans to address the broader environmental footprint of their communities. Comprehensive Climate Action Plans are being established in large cities across the region but building codes and other design standards have served to further municipal efficiency goals for years.

Climate Action Plans

Nearly every major city in Texas has or is in the process of developing comprehensive climate action plans that go beyond energy efficiency, water conservation, and clean energy and address issues of resiliency and equity. The following is a selection of current plans or planning efforts:

Energy Codes

Building energy codes are one of the most wide spread policies for cities to influence energy use community-wide. In Texas, each local government must pass a city ordinance or county order to adopt the state energy code, and then has the authority to enforce it. Building code enforcement ensures that a building is not only designed with the right mix of components, materials, and equipment to meet efficiency requirements, but that construction and installation practices deliver the expected energy performance.

SPEER developed the Texas Energy Code Adoption Toolkit to provide resources to support local governments as they move to adopt new energy codes as required by statute, and to support the building industry with information, resources, tools and links to other supporting organizations.

Community Green Development Requirements

Austin Energy Green Building Mandatory Green Building Zones

In 2003, prompted by the rapid pace of development in downtown Austin and community support for lower impact development, Austin City Council mandated that all new construction within the Central

Business District zoning designation was required to document a minimum level of performance under the city’s Austin Energy Green Building (AEGB) program, an Austin-specific green building rating system. Subsequently, minimum AEGB Rating requirements have been incorporated into development agreements in many of Austin’s most rapidly developing areas.

Water Conservation Policies

In Water for Texas: 2017 State Water Plan, municipal water conservation strategies are expected to provide 9.6% of the total volume of recommended strategies to meet estimated state water supply needs in 2070. In order to achieve this savings cities and water utilities across the state have instituted water conservation ordinances and developed comprehensive water conservation plans. The energy-water nexus concept acknowledges that energy and water systems are interconnected and water conservation leads to energy conservation for cities.

  • San Antonio Water System (SAWS) Water Conservation Ordinance
    San Antonio water conservation ordinance
    help the city save up to 1.3 billion gallons per year while preserving the Edwards Aquifer. The statute governing water conservation and reuse in San Antonio regulated activities such as irrigation systems, turf grass selection and installation, water features including pools, commercial car washes, restaurants, and cooling tower operation. It also established tiered drought restrictions on landscape irrigation.
  • Lewisville Water Conservation and Management Plan
    In 2014, the City of Lewisville restricted irrigation to twice weekly year-round with the goal to achieve a 1% reduction in total gallons per capita per day (GPCD). The ordinance details triggering criteria, applicability, and enforcement.

Water Conservation Five-Year Work Plans

The Texas Administrative Code Title 30, Chapter 288 (30 TAC § 288) requires holders of an existing permit, certified filing, or certificate of adjudication for the appropriation of surface water in the amount of 1,000 acre-feet a year or more for municipal, industrial, and other non-irrigation uses to develop, submit, and implement a water conservation plan and to update it every five years.

Numerous cities throughout Texas have developed the required five-year work plan including Austin (2014), San Antonio (2017), Houston (2014), and Fort Worth (2014). The City of Dallas released their most recent water conservation plan in May 2016 after a multi-faceted approach that included review of the previous water conservation planning efforts; review of numerous water conservation programs, initiatives, data, and literature; and through interviews with water conservation staff from other cities and public/private stakeholders.

Additional Assistance

SPEER provides technical assistance to local governments looking to reduce their energy and water consumption.  Contact SPEER and we can help you start your local energy plan, as well as communicate the benefits of your energy and water efficiency initiatives.