Austin, Texas

Mar 2nd, 2011 | By | Category: Youth Blog

Austin, Texas has established itself as a sustainability leader. I was looking through a list of the most sustainable cities in the country and it was listed as #6 on one site. Apparently Austin has the citizens choose their electric utility. This means that the people can elect their utility’s board. Austin has many innovative programs that allow citizens to take an interest in the environment and get involved. Among some of the interesting programs I found was Neighborwoods. The Neighborwoods volunteers go to a neighborhood, and if they identify a place where a tree could be planted on the right-of-way, they leave a little note to the homeowner, saying, “If you will agree to plant, water, and maintain the tree, we will bring you one and you will have to plant it right here where our note is with a flag on the ground.” Around 4,000 trees are planted each year through this measure.

Austin actually has been having some troubles with green roofs. Although they are widely publicized as a measure to promote sustainability, Austin has realized that it is actually not energy efficient to sustain green roofs. This is because in Austin it doesn’t rain enough so water has to be pumped up to the roof.

Austin has many of the attributes of cities all over the nation: car-sharing, bio-diesel fuel (20%), and even free public transport downtown. Austin discovered that their water utility is the largest user of energy, so the City is working with the department on energy efficiency for a lot of their pumps and blowers. They use rebates to encourage utility customers to put more efficient products into their homes. They also offer rebates for low-flow toilets, efficient irrigation, and clothes washers.

All in all, Austin has been establishing itself as a leader and innovator in sustainability. Hopefully other cities with similar climates will follow suit to create a more sustainable country-and world.

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