How Big D is Going Green Big Time
Oct 03, 2012 12:35PM
● By Julie Thibodeaux
In Texas, Austin is the city people think of when it comes to being green, but Dallas has also been making headlines as a leader in sustainability, declaring it wants to be the greenest city in the U.S. and its long-term vision is be carbon neutral by 2030.
Since 2003, the city has required new municipal construction projects be LEED certified by the U.S. Green Building Council. In 2009, a green building ordinance for new commercial and residential construction went into effect citywide. Phase one required new buildings to reduce water consumption, energy usage, light pollution and the heat island effect with cool roofs. Currently, a task force is developing an updated ordinance that will require green standards comparable to LEED goals for all new construction.
Zaida Basora, Dallas Public Works Department assistant director and leader of the Green Building Task Force, says the group is made up of architects, builders, realtors, inspectors and other stakeholders that are all committed to implementing sustainable standards. She states that the building industry has already become greener due to marketplace demands. “It’s very rare to see a home that is not being built with water-efficient fixtures and energy efficiency. We’re just trying to regulate it.”
Basora explains that in addition to conserving resources and reducing pollution, building green makes Dallas more marketable. “Studies show that if you’re doing sustainable practices in a city, it attracts people.” In addition to green building, many sectors in the Dallas business community have launched Earth-friendly initiatives and products, according to Amy Ramos, a spokesperson for the Dallas Chamber of Commerce.
For example, Dallas-based Southwest Airlines has started many green initiatives, including recycling and waste reduction programs, reducing fuel consumption and reclaiming water used for engine washing. This year, the airline debuted its redesigned cabin interior, which features material made from recyclables, as well as carpet squares that eliminate the need for total carpet replacement in the cabins. The new decor’s lighter weight is also expected to save 4 million gallons of fuel per year and decrease greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 40thousand metric tons.
In the technology arena, Dallas-based Texas Instruments is leading by example by building the world’s first LEED certified semiconductor manufacturing facility. The RFAB center, in Richardson, opened in 2009, and features a restored native prairie, a rainwater storage pond, solar water heating and smart lighting.
Amy Alexander, a spokesperson for the Metroplex Technology Business Council, which represents more than 300 businesses, said local tech companies are becoming greener in several ways. First, cloud computing has revolutionized the industry with more companies using data center services, instead of maintaining large mainframe equipment in-house. Second, electronics are continually being designed to be more energy efficient and decrease their environmental footprint.
“They’re generating less heat, which takes the strain off of air conditioning,” Alexander says. She also says that more local companies are recycling their electronics and designing equipment to be recyclable, which is good for the environment, as well as their bottom line. “Businesses are smarter today in how they do things.”
Julie Thibodeaux is a contributing writer, social media and events editor for Green Source DFW, Contact her at 817-732-0722 or [email protected].