Letter from the Chair: November

Some of you might have noticed a large change in the Force this last week. I know you are tired of any conversation that has the word “election” in it and want it all to stop, so I will keep this short and only focus on the very narrow area of how the election outcome might impact our great work here in Texas.

Here are the simple facts. President-Elect Trump could enact all of his campaign promises. He could scrap the United States' participation in the Paris Climate Accord simply by refusing to commit to the non-binding commitments of carbon emissions reductions. He could greatly minimize the influence of the EPA, effectually lowering all planned and current emissions standards thereby allowing unrestrained expansion of coal fired power plants, fracking, and construction of pipelines anywhere economic conditions suggest they should go. He could strip legislation that has and would protect the environment on all Federal lands. Maybe all of these scenarios happen or maybe they won't. Nothing so far has been simple in this year’s Presidential Election.

Let’s just say that it all happens. What would it mean for us in Texas? I am not convinced that a lot would change. We in Texas already experience one of the least receptive climates for advancing Energy or Environmental agendas. Texas provides no real incentives or rebates for investors or individuals to do anything more than the minimum code requirement. Some local incentives exist but are very limited in number and influence. So, I do not think it will get worse for us here in Texas. I realize that is not great news, but it is also not horrible news, for us. I do think that the rest of the country might soon look like Texas with respect to the challenges faced by environmentally focused individuals, companies, and organizations. The new National norm may become the current Texas norm. Other areas of the country may face the challenges we have learned to acknowledge and work to overcome. It will be a difficult transition for regions that historically have seen more progress on Energy and Environmental issues, but let’s stay focused on Texas.

The good news is that even though the Texas norm has real challenges, we have still managed great advancements with respect to educating elected officials, the business community, and others about the benefits of green building: building sustainably saves money, offers employees and home owners healthier environments, and offers employers a workforce with increased productively and higher retention rates. And, let’s not forget the positive impact these building practices have on the environment: less pollution in our soil, water, and air.

Is there more to do? Absolutely. Are we making plans so that we continue to be agents of change? Most definitely. How are we doing this? I am glad you asked.

Our Advocacy Committee is working on refining our messaging, building consensus with other professional organizations, setting dates to meet locally with our local and State representatives (tentative date of December 12, 2016), and planning for our trip to meet with our State Representatives in Austin (February 28th, 2017). In essence, the election results have not changed our plan-to-action.

So what are our big advocacy drivers this legislative session? A number of opportunities come to the forefront and they are issues that can be quickly impacted through effective legislation:

  • Schools - When we look internally within Texas, too often, we see that children and teachers lack healthy environments that foster learning, so that these children can become our future leaders. 
  • Texas Specific Incentives (Carrot & Stick) - We see that many construction projects are still not implementing healthy building practices and off-the-shelf energy efficient technologies in the homes and offices of the majority of Texans. 
  • Access - Environmental justice and equity are the primary drivers for our continued work toward ensuring improved access to best practices for everyone.

Your participation is critical, just like you may have noticed this past week.

Give me a call at 713-9857-6499 or email me at [email protected] so I can get you plugged in.

David MacLean