City Challenges Office Buildings to Go Green

The city is asking building owners and their tenants to become more sustainable in its first annual green office challenge. As Wendy Siegle reports, the year-long initiative calls on businesses to reduce their energy consumption, water use, and waste generation.
The City of Houston is partnering with local businesses and the international organization ICLEI–Local Governments for Sustainability for the Green Office Challenge. Laura Spanjian is the city’s Sustainability Director. She says building owners are opening up to the economic benefits of reducing, reusing, and recycling.

“I think these buildings are going to absolutely start greening their practices to save money and I think it’s going to spread throughout Houston.”


Mayor Annise Parker says the city is already moving toward a more sustainable future, but acknowledges that there is still a ways to go.

“Houston now has 89 LEED certified buildings, placing us eighth in the country. I don’t like being eighth in anything; we want to be first!”

The main objective of the challenge is to get property owners, managers and tenants to minimize their use of resources and maximize sustainable development. More than 20% of Houston’s residential, commercial, and industrial greenhouse gas emissions come from office buildings. Spanjian says there are lots of improvements-big and small-building owners can make to “greenify” their offices.

“They can do a myriad of things from lighting sensors, lighting controls, not serving bottled water, buying green products, encouraging bike-sharing, building a vegetable garden to show how important local food is.”

Participants will get hands-on help from local sustainability experts to improve their green building practices. The city hopes to have 300 building owners and tenants registered for the challenge by the time it officially kicks off on October 15. Online registration begins September 16 at www.houstongoc.org/.