A rusted pumpjack oil rig, its equestrian head nodding tirelessly, sits silhouetted against the burnt-orange western sun. This could be no other place than the American Southwest, in particular, Texas, that hulking epicenter of the petroleum industry. The oil rig in question could be any one of thousands that dot the arid west Texas desertscape, remnants of the era of big oil, and big money.
Yet not too far away (by Texas standards), lies the city of Austin, Capital of the fossil-fuels driven Lone Star state, home of the University of Texas (itself well-endowed by way of oil money), and in the last decade, the center of a verdant, green boom of sustainable industries, research, and development.
“Country’s Green Tech Hub”
This may come as a bit of a surprise for out-of-staters and those unfamiliar with Texas beyond Governor Rick Perry’s well-publicized denials of global warming and the recently remade television hit Dallas. Native Texans have always had a knack for innovation in the energy industry whether it is about extracting the liquefied remnants of ancient organisms or about extracting useful energy from wind, water, earth, and sun.
In Austin alone, nearly 15,000 people are employed in the sustainable energy industry. The municipal utility, Austin Energy, has pledged to get 35% of its electricity from sustainable sources. Over the past decade, green-tech jobs growth have far outpaced traditional green economic hubs such as San Francisco, California or Boulder, Colorado. SustainLane Government, a green business network, regularly names Austin a frontrunner for top green city. Time magazine’s February 13, 2012 issue recently named Austin “the country’s green tech hub”.
Time to Transition, Texans
So what does all this green hubbub mean for Texans? It means that it’s time to make the transition from a harmful, petroleum-driven lifestyle into a clean, green energy future. On the forefront of this eco-tide are architects, engineers, and eco-builders who are poised to transform an industry that consumes more than 70% of the nation’s electricity and produces nearly 40% of the nation’s carbon emissions.
According to native Texan and founder of Native, Lloyd Lee, “Texas is uniquely positioned with its amount of sunshine and focus on green building to be a world leader in solar and energy efficiency. This powerful combination will be able to prevent construction of new water thirsty power plants to keep up with the energy needs of our quickly growing state population.” Eco-builders in the Central Texas area, such as Native, offer competitively priced and beautiful net-zero homes which are homes that effectively produce all the energy they need. These tech-savvy homes for eco-conscious and tech-savvy owners include photovoltaics, geothermal pumps, and smart monitoring systems without neglecting extremely effective low-tech innovations such as air-tight duct work, spray-foam insulation rather than traditional batting, and plain old good design.
While Texas may be known for vast fortunes predicated on the extraction of black gold and for its staunch red state politics, deep in Her heart, Texas is as green as an oasis when it comes to sustainability.
In The Heart of Texas
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