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The Green Scene In Texas

By Elizabeth R. Elstien

Texas is fast becoming a hotbed of green living. From Dallas -- where leaders are working to make it the "greenest city in America" -- to Austin, environmentally forward-thinking initiatives are making it easier for residents to live and breathe easier. Here, we take a closer look at some of the popular green initiatives happening around the state.

Municipal LEED Standards

Already ranked high on the lists for green job creation, green energy purchasers and EPA local government partners, Dallas is positioning itself as an environmentally progressive city by initiating Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards for municipal and commercial buildings with its own convention center as its star example. The Houston Green Office Challenge helps commercial tenants and property managers/owners head toward ENERGY STAR (energy efficiency) or LEED standards by offering financial and media-recognition incentives. This office program has helped propel Houston to a high ranking on the list of U.S. cities with the most LEED-certified buildings.

Hiking and Biking

Houston's B-Cycle bicycle rental system now has 27 city stations and is expanding in 2014 to colleges, parks and more apartment areas. Heavy rentals of bicycles by residents near apartments were used for weekday work commutes while weekend fun found rentals good at stations near parks. Now those muddy bayou trails around Houston are being transformed into greenways and bicycle paths through a 2012 bond. Plus, the city is negotiating to use utility rights-of-way for offstreet urban pathways. Not to be outdone, Dallas created a 1,296-mile network of pathways called the Dallas Bikeway System and San Antonio is already well-known for The Riverwalk - connected walkways along the San Antonio River with shops and restaurants/bars. Austin's Office of Sustainability has begun the Green Alley project, which transforms alleyways and forgotten areas into neighborhood green spaces in a collaboration between the city and area residents.

Brownfield Turnaround

Turning a brownfield (environmentally contaminated former industrial or commercial site) into a sustainable business area is noteworthy. In fact, Dallas was noted for the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, which won the Phoenix Award for the largest and most successful brownstone project in the U.S. Houston has their Brownfields Redevelopment Program that provides free Environmental site assessments (ESAs) for Phases I and II, necessary for bank loans, to entice brownfield cleanup and reuse.

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About The Author

Elizabeth R. Elstien has worked in real estate for over 15 years as a real estate...

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