Though you may not think of oil-country Texas as a green energy state, plenty of businesses, government organizations, and progressive individuals have become sustainability champions for the state. Texas, called a “Renewable Energy Pioneer” by the Wall Street Journal, actually has the most wind power capacity and the most solar potential of any state. It’s also one of only a handful of states that has a deregulated power industry, meaning power companies can invest in green energy projects while still providing electricity at competitive rates. Let’s take a look at seven of the biggest green energy leaders in Texas.
1. City of HoustonHouston became one of the country’s largest municipal purchasers of renewables back in 2014. In 2015, this Texas city further contracted to purchase enough green energy to cover 75% of its annual electricity needs. It’s estimated that Houston uses upwards of 950,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) of green energy annually—enough to power 87,000 homes. It has also received a 3-STAR Community Rating, certifying its commitment to sustainability.
2. Whole FoodsNational health-food chain Whole Foods has thirty-one stores in Texas, each of them backed by company-wide green business practices. Whole Foods invests in various alternate power sources—the company’s investment in Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) and renewable-energy projects has prevented 551,000 tons of carbon dioxide output—enough to offset the carbon generated by 65,000 homes over the course of a year. Whole Foods currently employs solar power in twenty-five stores, with even more in development. The chain also uses reclaimed building materials in construction and installs rainwater collection systems on its buildings. Some locations even compost to reduce landfill waste by 80%–100%.
3. Texas InstrumentsTexas Instruments—a national semiconductor-producing company with facilities in Dallas and Richardson—is known for manufacturing high-end solar-powered calculators. But it’s not just the calculators that run on solar energy; the company uses solar power in its operations, too. Texas Instruments implements an average of over 100 energy-reducing projects—like purchasing electricity generated from renewable resources and installing green energy platforms on-site—each year. Texas Instruments says these green energy projects are good for its bottom line, too, saving the company more than $5 million a year.
4. City of AustinBack in 2011, Texas’s capital became the first local government to run municipal buildings on 100% renewable energy, largely utilizing wind power. A few years later, in 2015, the city adopted a climate plan that aims for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. That’s a big goal—Austin emits around 13.7 million metric tons of greenhouse gases annually, with around 53% of those greenhouse gases stemming from the use of renewable electricity and natural gas—making the city’s commitment even more meaningful.
5. DellDell, a technology manufacturer, has historically been eager to adopt green technology practices. Recent 2016 fiscal year estimates show that on-site solar and renewable purchasing accounted for 41.1% of the company’s global energy use. Dell also works to make its products energy efficient, helping its customers conserve energy in their own lives as well.
6. City of DallasDallas began purchasing renewable energy credits in 2012, starting with a solid goal to power 40% of municipal operations renewably. Since that time, the city upped its goal and became the top governmental green energy user in the nation. City facilities use roughly 715,000 MWh of electricity per year, and 100% of that electricity is now covered by RECs. Additionally, many new city buildings are also built to LEED standards, using energy-efficient materials and technology.
7. South by SouthwestThe massive film and music festival makes sustainability a major part of its efforts. The ten-day Austin-based festival now extends to SXSW Eco, a conference showcasing new technology and innovation to help combat climate change. Here participants can collaborate on minimizing environmental impact—it’s a great venue to discuss environmental trends, discoveries from clean energy, and even sustainability in the food industry. The SXSW Eco has become one of the biggest sustainability events in the country. Going green isn’t always easy, but it’s definitely worth the benefit to the environment. We applaud these seven Texas green energy leaders, and we hope to see more communities and organizations throughout this state make similar progress towards eco-friendly ideals and standards.