City Spotlight

Why Cities are the Leaders

Texas cities are emerging as contenders for national energy efficiency leadership. In 2013, the American Council for Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) released a scorecard ranking cities on energy efficiency. Their 2015 map shows that Texas has three cities in the top 20, with Austin ranked 9th in the nation. Considering many energy efficiency projects like PACE districts, building energy codes, and public building retrofits must be adopted and implemented at the local level, it’s clear that local governments can play a major part to accelerate energy efficiency. With statewide support and coordination among cities facing similar challenges, these initiatives could go much further.

SPEER, in partnership with the Texas State Energy Conservation Office and the Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC), is strengthening ties among Texas local governments, bringing city leaders together to learn and share best practices in energy efficiency to create great impact statewide. Currently, our City Efficiency Leaders Project provides support and coordination to Fort Worth, Dallas, Houston, El Paso, Austin, and San Antonio.  We are building a network to include coordination with several Councils of Government and additional cities in Texas and Oklahoma to regionalize energy efficiency initiatives and policies.

Highlights from our City Efficiency Leaders currently engaged in the project:


  • City adopted Energy Conservation Audit and Disclosure Ordinance
  • Distributed more than 90,000 free thermostats to Austin Energy customers to reduce up to 30 megawatts of peak demand
  • Community-wide goal to offset 800 megawatts of peak energy demand, 371 megawatts already avoided


  • One of the first major cities to pass comprehensive green building standards for both new residential and commercial construction
  • Energy audits and retrofits in public buildings saves the city 900,000 kilowatt hours per month, or $1 million per year.

Fort Worth

  • Achieved 7% energy performance with a goal of 20% reductions
  • Recruited 15 million square feet of commercial development to partner in the Department of Energy’s Better Building Competition
  • Appointed Sustainability Task Force to improve city facilities


  • Building energy codes are 15% more efficient than required by the state
  • 4.5 million square feet of City of Houston buildings receiving energy conservation measure
  • LED traffic and streetlights save the city $10,000 per day, $3.6 million per year

San Antonio

  • Over 2,500 homeowners received subsidized energy audits to identify cost saving energy retrofit measures
  • 6.4 million square feet of commercial space retrofitted to a 15% or greater energy savings
  • Free weatherization programs for families in need