History of Texas
Pollution Reduction

The history of Texas and energy are intimately tied together. It is a history of both good choices and lost opportunities. In recent years, the state has started to embrace the good by striving toward energy efficiency and the public investment necessary to promote the concept. It is a movement in part encouraged by the recognition that efficient energy usage provides public benefits by both reducing air pollution and lowering cost to ratepayers. However, it is also a movement that has been mandated by the Federal government in response to some of the most polluted air in the country.

The role for regulatory incentives and public investment was modified and reaffirmed with the energy efficiency provisions of Senate Bill 7 and Senate Bill 5, passed in 1999 and 2001, respectively.

Texas has embraced the benefits of energy efficiency programs in recent sessions, but there are still many opportunities the state could seize upon. In 2001, the Legislature passed SB5, which required the State Energy Conservation Office (SECO) to support the development of energy efficiency programs by political subdivisions to reduce demand. The directive requires affected political subdivisions to:

  • Implement all cost-effective, energy-efficiency measures to reduce electric consumption by existing, publicly owned facilities;

  • Adopt a goal to reduce electric consumption by five percent each year for five years, beginning January 1, 2002; and

  • Report annually to SECO on their progress.

Also as a part of SB 5, Texas adopted the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), which contains energy efficiency specifications for residences and commercial buildings (Chapter 8). The Texas Commission for Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and the Energy Systems Laboratory at Texas A&M University (ESL) estimated preliminary energy savings on new homes built after implementation of the IECC in September 2001. The study shows that 137,448 single-family residences and 45,761 multi-family residences are estimated to have been built in the non-attainment and affected counties since 9/2001.

In single-family residences, the implementation of the IECC is estimated to have saved 445,740 MWh per year note , which results in 626 tons-NOx/year saving note .   Peak day NOx reductions are calculated to be 3.1 tons-NOx/peak-day note .

In multifamily residences, the implementation of the IECC is estimated to have saved 65,345 MWh per year , which results in 83 tons-NOx/year savings note . Peak day NOx reductions are calculated to be 0.41 tons-NOx/peak-daynote .

Total electricity savings from the implementation of the IECC to single-family and multifamily residences for the period 9/2001 to 3/2003 would be 511,085 MWh per year note , which results in 709 tons-NOx/year savings. Peak day NOx reductions are calculated to be 3.51 tons-NOx/peak-day note. The IECC sets a minimum standard for new buildings; implementing a green building program could capture an additional 20% savings for consumers.

The General Land Office , through the Veteran's Land Board (VLB), administers a program to facilitate green building incentives, such as home loans and home improvement loans. The VLB program has a comprehensive rating system for houses, including a point assignment for every energy efficiency measure. This program has been very successful in the past few years, and should be expanded statewide. In the last three years, the VLB has funded 5,496 home loans or home improvement loans, worth $648 million. Implementing a statewide green building program would be a natural continuation of the progress begun with the adoption of the IECC.

Commercial Amendments to the IECC

Commercial buildings are constructed to energy efficiency standards promulgated by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). The International Energy Conservation Code that was adopted statewide by the 2001 Legislature in Senate Bill 5 adopts the ASHRAE standard in its entirety. The currently referenced standard is now being revised as part of the ongoing process of code improvement.

The appendix we may want to avoid referring to the appendix since there isn’t a clearly designated “Appendix section” describes a series of amendments to the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) 2000 to bring the standards of the IECC 2000 commercial and high-rise residential provisions in line with ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 90.1-1999. These amendments are consistent with those proposed and adopted by the International Codes Council as published in the 2001 Supplement to the International Codes dated March 2001. The main areas covered include:

  • motorized dampers

  • loading dock weather seals

  • enclosed vestibules

  • recessed lighting fixtures

  • minimum efficiency requirements for: air conditioners, heat pumps, furnaces, boilers, condensing units, water chilled packages, and heat rejection equipment

  • lighting controls

Current best practices may achieve 30-50% more savings than required by the code.

Policy Recommendations

  • Adopt an ordinance requiring lighting shutoff controls in new commercial applications.

  • Require lighting shutoff controls in all buildings where entity has regulatory control (i.e. city facilities).

  • Require CFLs in new and remodeled buildings as applicable.