State and Local Policy Database


City Scorecard Rank


Houston, TX

70.00Scored out of 250Updated 05/2024
Community-Wide Initiatives
Score: 11.5 out of 45 points
Community-Wide Climate Mitigation and Energy GoalsList All

Climate Mitigation Goal

Houston’s Mayor Parker pledged the city to an 80% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions below 2005 by 2050. The Climate Action Plan includes an interim goal of reducing community-wide emissions 40% below 2014 levels by 2030. ACEEE was unable to project if the city will achieve its near-term community-wide GHG emissions reduction goal because insufficient GHG emissions data were available for our analysis.

The city publishes community-wide greenhouse gas inventories through the Carbon Disclosure Project.

Energy Efficiency Goal

We could not find information on a community-wide energy efficiency goal. 

Renewable Energy Goal

The city has a goal to generate 5 million MWh from local rooftop and community solar projects per year by 2050.

Last updated: January 2024

Equity-Driven Approaches to Clean Energy Planning, Implementation, and EvaluationList All

Equity-Driven Community Engagement

The city's Complete Communities initiative created ten unique development plans for ten historically under resourced neighborhoods. The city held several community meetings for each plan where residents could engage directly with plan developers. 

Equity-Driven Decision-Making

We were unable to determine if the city has created a formal role for marginalized community residents or local organizations representing those communities to participate in decision-making that affects the creation or implementation of a local energy, sustainability, or climate action plan.

Equity Accountability Measures

We were unable to determine whether the city has adopted specific goals, metrics, or protocols to track how multiple energy, sustainability, or climate action initiatives are affecting local marginalized groups. 

Last updated: January 2024

Clean Distributed Energy ResourcesList All

Houston is in the process of redeveloping a former landfill in Sunnyside, a neighborhood in the Complete Communities program. The City is working with Sunnyside Energy to convert the 240-acre Holmes Road landfill into a 70 MW solar farm.

Last updated: January 2024

Adaptive Mitigation List All

Heat Island Mitigation Policies and Programs

The Energy Conservation Code requires cool roofs on all commercial buildings, and residential buildings with low-sloped roofs must have a minimum solar reflectance of 0.70 and a thermal emittance of 0.75.

The city provides development incentives for the preservation of open space.

The city's Incentives for Green Development plan developed recommendations for incentives to encourage greater implementation of green stormwater infrastructure in private development projects. The stated goal is to implement the plan's recommendations by 2022.

Resilience Hubs

Houston supported the creation of the Kashmere Gardens resilience hub. 

Last updated: January 2024

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Workforce DevelopmentList All

Workforce development for disadvantaged workers

We could not determine if city has partnered with a local education institution, labor union, or community-based organization to create, support, and/or incentivize the development of clean energy workforce development initiatives that target training and support services for potential or existing workers from disadvantaged communities to obtain and keep in-demand jobs.

Workforce development for the broader community

The city signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Houston Community College to train 500,000 residents in resiliency and sustainability. 

Outcomes tracking

We could not determine if the city has instituted a mechanism to measure the performance and/or success of equitable workforce development initiatives focused on the clean energy sector.

Last updated: January 2024

Buildings Policies
Score: 14.5 out of 70 points
Building Energy CodesList All


The State of Texas allows its local jurisdictions to adopt and amend building energy codes that are at least as stringent as the Texas Building Energy Code. The minimum state standard for single-family residential construction must comply with the 2015 International Residential Code (IRC). All other residential and commercial building construction must comply with the 2015 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). State-funded building construction must comply with ASHRAE 90.1-2013. To learn more about Texas’s building energy code requirements, please visit the State Policy Database.


Houston adopted the 2015 IECC for commercial buildings with amendments, effective December 2016. The city also adopted ASHRAE 90.1-2013 with amendments, effective December 2016. The city’s zEPI score for their commercial energy code is 51.75.


Houston adopted the 2015 IECC for residential buildings with amendments, effective October 2016. The city’s zEPI score for their residential energy code is 61.66.

Solar-readiness policies 

One of Houston’s amendment to the 2015 IRC includes a provision requiring new residential buildings to be solar-ready by installing a conduit. Houston does not have legislation regarding solar ready for commercial buildings. However, in 2019 Houston began requiring multi-family buildings receiving CDBG-DR funding to be solar ready. 

EV-readiness policies

The City of Houston does not have legislation mandating EV-ready installation. However, in 2019 the City began requiring CDBG-DR funded multi-family projects to be EV ready.

Low-energy use requirement

Houston requires new construction of or major renovation to municipal buildings greater than 10,000 square feet to achieve LEED Silver standards.

Electrification policies

We could not find information on whether the city has adopted any electrification policies.

Last Update: September 2023

Building Energy Code Compliance and EnforcementList All

We were unable to determine the amount of staff effort dedicated to energy code enforcement. Houston requires third-party review and performance testing for building energy code compliance. The city’s Code Enforcement Department provides upfront code support for all builders and developers through the Green Building Resource Center. The program offers plan reviews, cost-effective green options, and energy efficiency classes. The City of Houston offers incentive pay to internal employees who obtain certifications in Residential, Building Code, MEP, and IECC.

Last Update: September 2023

Policies Targeting Existing BuildingsList All

Other requirements

The City adopted the Municipal Building Decarbonization and Benchmarking Policy in 2022, which sets requirements around major retrofits, energy audits, energy, water and waste benchmarking, energy performance targets, and training of building staff. The policy applies to municipal and city-operated buildings.


Energy efficiency financing is available to commercial and multifamily building owners through PACE Houston.

The City offers a LEED incentive program, which allows buildings registered for LEED certification to take part in the Quick Start program. The Quick Start program provides a means for expediting the plan review of certain large commercial design projects.

The City also offers a tax abatement program for buildings that obtain LEED certification. 

Program outcomes

We could not verify if the city collects data on incentive and financing programs to ensure equitable outcomes.

Voluntary programs

Houston started a voluntary commercial benchmarking program in partnerships with Better Buildings

Last Update: September 2023

Score: 15.5 out of 70 points
Sustainable Transportation Planning List All

Sustainable Transportation Plan

The Resilient Houston plan was released in 2020 and includes sustainable transportation strategies. It also includes strategies specifically benefitting disadvantaged communities.

VMT/GHG Target and Stringency

According to the Houston Climate Action Plan, the city has a goal of reducing per capita VMT 20% by 2050 from 2014 levels. 

The city’s target requires a 1.26% average per-capita annual decrease from its target baseline. Therefore, Houston did not earn points for the stringency of its target. 

Progress Achieved Toward VMT/GHG Targets

The City of Houston did not provide VMT data collected since the adoption of its goal; therefore, we cannot assess progress toward the goal. 

Last Updated: January 2024

Location Efficiency List All

Location Efficient Zoning Codes

In 2023, Houston modified its development code to allow developments with three or more residential units in more districts by-right.

Parking Requirements

Houston has eliminated parking minimums in certain districts. 

Location Efficiency Incentives and Disclosure

Houston offers a tax abatement program for mixed-use developments. 

Affordable Housing around Transit

The City of Houston does not require, preserve, or incentivize the development of affordable housing near transit. 

Last Updated: September 2023

Mode Shift List All

Mode Shift Targets

The City of Houston does not have a codified mode share target. 

Progress Achieved Toward Mode Shift Targets

The City of Houston does not have a codified mode share target, and therefore cannot make progress toward the target. 

Subsidized Access to Efficient Transportation Options

We were unable to find information on programs or policies subsidizing access to efficient transportation for disadvantaged groups. 

Last Updated: September 2023

Public Transit List All

Transportation Funding

The transit entities that serve the City of Houston have received $519,833,553.00 on average annually between 2017 and 2021 from local sources. That equates to roughly $1 8.34per capita between 2017 and 2021 within the service area. 

Access to Transit Services

The AllTransit Performance Score measures a given community's transit access and performance. The score considers connections to other routes, access to jobs, service frequency, and the percent of commuters who ride transit to work. The City of Houston’s AllTransit Performance Score is 5.9, scoring 1 points in the City Scorecard. 

Last Updated: September 2023

Efficient VehiclesList All

Vehicle Purchase Incentives

Neither the City of Houston nor the local utility provide incentives for purchasing efficient vehicles. 

Vehicle Infrastructure Incentives

Entergy offers a $250 rebate to customers for installing a level 2 charger in a single-family home or commercial building. 

Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Requirements

The City of Houston does not require new developments to install EV charging stations. 

EV Charging Locations

The City of Houston has 25.3 vehicle charging ports per 100,000 people available for public use. 

Electric School Bus Goal

Neither the City of Houston nor the local school district have set an electric school bus goal. 

EV Transit Bus Goal

Houston set a goal of only procuring zero-emissions buses for its fleet by 2030. 

METRO, a public transit agency serving Houston, set a goal of only purchasing zero emission buses after 2030. METRO plans to prioritize routes serving underserved communities, as identified in the City of Houston’s Complete Community program, as it transitions to zero emission buses.

Last Updated: January 2024

Freight System EfficiencyList All

Sustainable Freight Plans

Houston does not have a sustainable freight plan or freight mobility plan. However, the city is promoting and improving freight rail transportation through the Gulf Coast Rail District. 

Open Data Portals

The City of Houston does not have an open data portal with real-time freight data. 

Last Updated: September 2023

Community Energy Infrastructure
Score: 13.5 out of 40 points
Community Energy Infrastructure Summary List All

CenterPoint Energy, an investor-owned utility (IOU), is the primary gas and electric utility serving the city of Houston. The City of Houston is an active promoter of CenterPoint’s energy efficiency programs. The State of Texas requires electric utilities to offset load-growth through end-use energy efficiency, mandated through an EERS. The utilities must also submit their energy savings goals to the Public Utility Commission of Texas. To learn more about the state requirements for electric and gas efficiency, please visit the Texas page of the State Database. On the state level, Houston strongly advocates for additional spending requirements for energy efficiency projects for all of its utilities.

The Houston Public Works and Engineering Department is the municipal utility that provides Houston with drinking water services, wastewater treatment, and stormwater management.

Last Updated: September 2023  

Electricity and Natural Gas Efficiency SavingsList All

In 2021, CenterPoint Energy reported 234,327 MWh in net electric savings at the meter. savings

CenterPoint did not spend or did not report spending or savings on natural gas efficiency programs. These savings figures cover the entire Texas service territory, not just Houston.

CenterPoint Energy offers natural gas and electric efficiency incentives and technical assistance to residential and commercial/industrial customers.

The city is a member of Evolve Houston through which it partners with CenterPoint to promote electric vehicles in Houston. CenterPoint also is a sponsor of the Houston Climate Action Plan.

Last Updated: September 2023

Low-Income & Multifamily EE Programs List All

Low-Income Programs

CenterPoint Energy offers the Hard-to-Reach Standard Offer Program to qualified low-income residential customers. Through this program, incentives are paid to project sponsors for qualifying measures installed in retrofit applications that provide verifiable demand and energy savings to low-income customers. Qualifying measures include installation of insulation, air sealing, replacement of air conditioning duct systems, refrigerator replacement, water-saving measures, and lighting fixtures. The program does not target specific households or streamline eligibility requirements. CenterPoint markets the program through email and internet campaigns, relevant meetings and workshops, and statewide outreach opportunities.

Spending and energy saving values and number of customers served by CenterPoint Energy’s 2021 low-income programs were not available.

Multifamily Programs

CenterPoint Energy offers the Multifamily MTP program. This program encompasses three different segments: Multifamily Water and Space Heating, High Performance Multifamily, and Multifamily Direct Install. The Multifamily Water and Space Heating segment includes upgrades to boiler systems, individual gas water and space heating units, and combination gas water heating and space heating systems. The High Performance Multifamily segment targets new buildings that are built to ENERGY STAR® version 3.0 standards or above current energy code via the high-performance path with pay-for-performance based kWh incentives. The Multifamily Direct Install Program offers property owners and managers a free visual audit of existing units and provides eligible properties with no-cost direct install measures, which may include CFLs, water savings measures (faucet aerator, low-flow showerhead), water heater tank wrap, and water heater pipe insulation. In addition, a tenant education handout will be left in the unit explaining the benefits of energy efficiency and tips on how to save energy.

Spending and energy saving values and number of customers served by their 2021 multifamily programs were not available.

Last Updated: September 2023

Provision of Energy Data by UtilitiesList All

CenterPoint Energy does not provide building managers with automated benchmarking data through ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager for multitenant commercial or multifamily buildings.

The city of Houston provides community wide energy usage information for planning and evaluation purposes through their GHG emissions inventory. CenterPoint and Entergy provide community-wide energy usage information at the aggregate level to the City upon request.

The City of Houston, as part of the City Energy Project, is working to accelerate access to energy data to improve the energy efficiency of buildings.

Last Updated: September 2023

Decarbonization and Climate Change Mitigation Efforts of Cities and Energy UtilitiesList All

Utility Climate Mitigation Goal

In 2020, CenterPoint Energy announced a goal to reduce operational greenhouse gas emission by 70% by 2035, compared to 2005 baseline levels.

City-Led Efforts to Decarbonize the Electric Grid

The City, as a member of the Entergy Coalition of Cities, and is participating in a proceeding related to Entergy's request to deploy natural gas fired distributed generation.

The Houston Climate Action Plan, which is sponsored by CenterPoint, includes goals to grow Houston’s investment in renewable and resilient energy and to make Houston a leader in carbon capture technology and energy innovation. This includes supporting and promoting the use and development of renewable energy, advocating for renewable energy policies at the local, state, and federal levels. More specific targets include organizing Texas mayors and community leaders to lobby state legislature to increase the Texas renewable energy policies to achieve 80% zero carbon electricity by 2050, create policies that facilitate renewable energy for the US Power Sector, work with partners to identify available potential solar/storage rebates and incentives, and support financing mechanisms to promote investment in renewable energy.

Clean Distributed Energy Resources 

Houston is in the process of redeveloping a former landfill in Sunnyside, a neighborhood in the Complete Communities program. The City is working with Sunnyside Energy to convert the 240-acre Holmes Road landfill into a 70 MW solar farm. 

Municipal Renewable Energy Procurement 

Houston has installed 106 kW of solar panel generation capacity on City facilities. The City has geothermal systems at two fire stations; the capacity of these systems is unknown. Cities facilities are powered approximately 100% by green power. This includes retail green power, self supply and power purchase agreements. Generation capacity for the PPA and reported self-supply total 50,000kW.  

City Renewable Energy Incentive and Financing Programs 

Energy efficiency financing is available to commercial and multifamily building owners through PACE Houston. The City of Houston fast-tracks solar panel permits for residential properties.  

The City offers a LEED incentive program, which allows buildings registered for LEED certification to take part in the Quick Start program. The Quick Start program provides a means for expediting the plan review of certain large commercial design projects. 

The City also offers a tax abatement program for buildings that obtain LEED certification. 

Last Updated: February 2024 

Efficiency Efforts in Water ServicesList All

Citywide Water Efficiency and Goals

The City of Houston has participated in load saving programs over the years with CenterPoint energy during high demands. Certain plants and associated pieces of equipment were identified to help lower electrical demand when specified.

The City of Houston Water Conservation Plan sets water conservation goals and aims to preserve long-term and water supplies for the city and greater Houston region. The City recently established a water conservation task force to develop conservation goals and best practices.

Water Plant Efficiency and Self-Generation

The City of Houston recently released its Climate Action Plan, which includes a goal to reduce water and wastewater energy consumption by 10% through optimization of facility operations and water conservation. The City has also implemented several energy conservation upgrades and improvements for wastewater treatment plants and wastewater lift stations, as well as upgrading infrastructure with lower energy consuming lighting. The city also installed a Specific Energy Pump Optimizer system at a facility to minimize energy consumption.

The City’s water system currently does not self-generate its own energy.

Last Updated: September 2023

Local Government Score:
15 out of 25 points
Local Government Climate and Energy Goals List All

The City of Houston's Climate Action Plan guides energy and climate goals for the City.

Climate Mitigation Goal

The City of Houston has a goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 through its Climate Action Plan, which also applies to municipal operations.  The Houston Climate Action Plan sets interim greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals for 2030  (40% reduction) and 2040 (75% reduction) from the 2014 baseline, with the final goal of a 100% reduction by 2050. ACEEE was unable to project if the city will achieve its near-term local government GHG emissions reduction goal because insufficient GHG emissions data were available for our analysis.

Energy Reduction Goal

Through the Better Buildings Challenge, the city established a goal to achieve 20% energy reduction below 2008 levels by 2021. Municipal buildings account for 7 million out of 30 million square feet of the city’s commitment. Additionally, per state law (Texas Health and Safety Code §388.005), the City of Houston is required to establish a goal to reduce electric consumption by at least five percent each state fiscal year. The City of Houston actively strives to meet this 5% target each year.

Renewable Energy Goal

The City's Climate Action Plan includes a goal to use 100% renewable energy for municipal operations by 2025. As of July 1, 2020, Houston began purchasing 100% renewable energy through a contract with the City's retail electric provider.

Last updated: June 2021

Procurement and Construction Policies List All

Fleet Policies and Composition

Houston uses the following policy in determining the fuel/propulsion type for each vehicle/unit of equipment purchased:  if a battery electric unit is available and is practical/feasible fit for the intended application, purchase the battery electric unit; if not, if a hybrid electric unit is available and is practical/feasible fit for the intended application, purchase the hybrid electric unit; if not, purchase conventional. This policy has been approved by the Mayor. In accordance with City policy, each City vehicle/unit of equipment purchase must be first approved by the City's Fleet Management Department before the requisition can be processed for procurement.  The Fleet Management Department is responsible for ensuring the requested vehicle/unit of equipment has been appropriately selected/sized for the given application and, to ensure that the selection is aligned with the City's Climate Action Plan. The City has a policy that limits vehicle engine idle time to more than 5 minutes in order to minimize GHG emissions. Houston Airport System looks for EV and alternative fuels and if available and economical we will purchase them. Houston’s municipal fleet is currently composed of 6.1% efficient vehicles, including hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and battery electric vehicles. 

Public Lighting

Houston has not adopted a policy requiring efficient outdoor lighting, such as the International Dark-Sky Association’s Model Lighting Ordinance, however the city’s streetlights have photo sensors, so they only operate when needed. As of December 2022, Houston and CenterPoint Energy have converted 177,617 streetlights to LEDs, accounting for approximately 99% of the city’s streetlights.  

Inclusive procurement

Houston has an MWDBE (minority, women-owned and disadvantaged business enterprises) program to stimulate the growth of MWDBE by encouraging their full participation in procurement activities and by affording fair opportunity to compete in City contracts.  The policy has been applied to the City's electric supply agreement, through which Houston purchases 100% renewable energy. This Houston disparity study includes when and how recommendations will be implemented. Houston screens contractors to ensure they do not have a history of violating workplace laws or other regulatory protections.  

Last updated: October 2023

Asset Management List All

Building Benchmarking

Houston committed to benchmarking approximately 21% (of total square feet) to the Better Buildings Challenge. Energy use is monitored annually through Energy Star Portfolio.

Comprehensive Retrofit Strategy

In the City’s municipal energy efficiency program, 6 million square feet of municipal buildings are achieving guaranteed energy use reductions approaching 30% with average paybacks of less than 10 years. The City makes energy efficiency upgrades through the use of CIP projects. The City is also participating in a sub-metering program that allows key users to monitor electricity usage in real-time and more effectively respond to inefficiencies. Additional initiatives include the City of Houston General Services Department (GSD) Energy Efficiency Project. GSD applied to the State Energy Conservation Office (SECO) for energy efficiency funding under its LoanSTAR (Saving Taxes and Resources) Revolving Loan Program to fund the energy cost reduction measures identified by Texas Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) Energy Systems Laboratory. TEES conducted and developed a Preliminary Energy Assessment (PEA). The total estimated cost of the loan, including energy cost reduction measures and project management is $2,326,526 with a payback of 8.7 years. GSD will implement the energy cost reduction measures at several City facilities.

Municipal Employee Transportation Benefits

Houston’s Employee & Transit Program provides either a parking permit or a transit pass to employees working in the downtown and surrounding area. They do not have data on estimating emissions for employees opting for transit passes. The program also began offering a vanpool program in 2020 which started with 11 employees participating. In 2022, 41 employees participate in the vanpool program and our transit partner, Metro, estimates the vanpool program for city employees has resulted in 221,396 reduced VMTs (Vehicle Miles Traveled) in 2022.

Last update: February 2024