Mayor Turner Releases Three-Year Update for Resilient Houston and the Climate Action Plan

Style Magazine Newswire | 7/14/2023, 11:49 a.m.
The City of Houston has released a combined update detailing the impressive progress made on major initiatives of both Resilient …

The City of Houston has released a combined update detailing the impressive progress made on major initiatives of both Resilient Houston and the Climate Action Plan after three years of implementation.

“Earth Day HTX 2023 marked three years of laser-focused cooperation between all city departments and our dedicated community partners to push forth initiatives for a cleaner, greener Houston and I’m proud to say that we are exceeding expectations mapped out in these two plans,” proclaimed Mayor Turner. “We track 30 measurable goals and are transparent with where we are on each one of them. We are on track to meet or exceed almost every goal and even though this is my last year in office, the wheels are in motion for future administrations to continue building on this success.”

Resilient Houston and the Climate Action Plan helped cement the foundation for Mayor Turner’s vision of making Houston a more resilient and sustainable city. Built on existing efforts, the plans focus on challenges like preparing Houstonians for uncertainty, ensuring neighborhood safety and the equitable distribution of resources, planning for the energy transition, optimizing urban infrastructure, and other vital components. The plans outline specific actions for the city, partners, and communities to come together to solve these challenges, with an emphasis on the most vulnerable populations.

“The details and specifics outlined in each goal associated with these plans help make them trackable and achievable,” stated Chief Resilience and Sustainability Officer Priya Zachariah. “The key to continued success is making sure we share and publicize our progress so everyone involved knows what still needs to be done and so we can stay accountable to our promises to the community.”

Some of the major milestones achieved include:

Our greenhouse gas emissions inventory (2020) showed a 10% reduction from the 2014 baseline.

The City was awarded an A rating from the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) once again in 2022.

The City achieved its Gold designation as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) for Cities by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

More than 214,134 trees were planted by the City and other entities in 2022. This brings the total to over 1.4 million trees planted since 2019, out 4.6 million by 2030 – or over 31% of the goal.

In addition, the City has launched a Tree Equity platform aimed at not only collecting information from tree plantings by our major partners, non-profit agencies, and communities but also educating entities on where to plant trees by providing heat map information, as well as existing disparities in total canopy cover.

In 2022, the Houston City Council approved the Nature Preserve Ordinance - an ordinance designed to protect 7,423 acres of natural habitat in City of Houston parks.

Sixteen green stormwater infrastructure projects were completed in 2022, marking a total of 86 projects completed within the first three years, or 86% of the goal completion.

Twenty miles of high-comfort bike lanes were built in 2022, bringing the total number of bikeway miles to 406 out of a goal of 500 miles – or 81% completion.

In April 2022, the City of Houston adopted a Municipal Building Decarbonization and Benchmarking policy.

And the Houston Airport System (HAS) started engaging in the Airport Carbon Accreditation (ACA). In March 2023, HAS published a policy statement letter to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030, gathered information to establish its carbon footprint at each of the City’s three airports in pursuit of Level 1 accreditation, and has already begun documentation for Level 2 accreditation.

In 2022, we kicked off the Climate Resilience Measurement for Communities (CRMC) project in partnership with Resilient Cities Network (RCN), identifying two communities with extreme heat and flood impacts and completing the data collection under Phase 1 of the project.

The latest data (2021) shows that annual local solar generation in Houston increased to 148,030 MWh. Demand for solar permits is growing exponentially – the number of permits had already doubled from the end of 2019 to the end of 2021 and grew another 66% in 2022. The City's efforts to increase solar investments are supporting this trend: the City launched a group-buying campaign with Solar United Neighbors (SUN) - growing participation from under 300 to over 1,600 registrants in 2022. Larger projects such as the Sunnyside Landfill Solar Farm and future additional solar arrays at City facilities such as the airports and facilities designated as Resilience Hubs will also add significant local solar generating capacity.

Our 2022-2023 purchases of Electric Vehicles (EVs) will more than triple the number of EVs in the municipal fleet. The City now operates 333 hybrid electric vehicles and 88 battery electric vehicles. Within a year, the City is expecting delivery of another 107 battery electric vehicles and 41 hybrid electric vehicles.

Three additional neighborhood resilience plans were completed in 2022 (Independence Heights, East Houston, and Edgebrook Area).

In September 2022, the City signed an MOU with the Houston Community College to train 500,000 Houstonians in Resilience.

Greentown Labs has 75 Houston-based Energy 2.0 member companies today and has supported 98 since opening, way over the initial target of 50 2.0 companies by 2025.

The Houston Recycling Collaboration already started collecting “all plastics,” including plastics such as Styrofoam, plastic bags and films which are not currently accepted in curbside recycling at pilot dropoff locations and is also helping the Houston Independent School District (HISD) roll out recycling programs at its campuses.

In terms of national and international leadership in climate action, Mayor Turner led a delegation to Mexico City to launch the RCN initiative Women in Resilience in November 2022.

In September 2022, the City of Houston hosted Queen Maxima of the Netherlands and signed a Letter of Intent with the City of Rotterdam to collaborate on community and energy resilience.

While the three-year combined report provides detailed information on Houston’s progress towards our Resilient Houston and Climate Action Plan goals and targets, a web interface is also available to provide a visual overview of progress towards our main targets. The Resilience and Recovery Tracker is available on Rice University’s website through a partnership with Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research.