Tiko Hausman, candidate for Houston City Council At-Large Position 4, is an acclaimed community builder and advocate for small, women and minority-owned businesses. She was named a Rising Star by the League of Women Voters and Recipient of the Greater Houston Business Procurement Forum Strategic Partnering Award. Tiko CAN navigate and represent Houston's best interests completely --families, communities and business. Tiko WILL be committed, accessible and accountable. Tiko BELIEVES that by being vested in Houston's past and present, she is invested in Houston's future.
A Livable Houston
Houston has one of the youngest, fastest growing and most diverse populations in the world. People from around the globe relocate here every year to take advantage of the abundant lifestyle and job opportunities the region provides. Houston must remain become the epicenter for Business Innovation and Resilience. By embracing an aggressive Climate Action plan and investing in complete communities, we foster a business community that is moves us forward with new innovation, jobs and equity for all.
As a Candidate for City Council I am often asked, “What will you do to address flooding in the City?”
Immediately we think of the obvious solutions like drainage projects and ensuring that we maintain our ditches and keep them clear of illegal dumping and trash. However, Climate Change is the defining issue of our time and we are at a defining moment. From shifting weather patterns that threaten food production, to rising sea levels that increase the risk of catastrophic flooding, the impacts of climate change are global in scope and unprecedented in scale. Without drastic action today, adapting to these impacts in the future will be more difficult and costly.
Greenhouse gases occur naturally and are essential to the survival of humans and millions of other living things, by keeping some of the sun’s warmth from reflecting back into space and making Earth livable. But after more than a century and a half of industrialization, deforestation, and large scale agriculture, quantities of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have risen to record levels not seen in three million years. As populations, economies and standards of living grow, so does the cumulative level of greenhouse gas (GHGs) emissions.
What Are Houston's Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions?
In 2014 Houston emitted 34.3 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). Houston’s biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions are transportation (47%) and commercial and residential buildings (49%). Other sources of emissions include manufacturing, waste, and fugitive emissions (4%).
Overall, Houston’s greenhouse gas emissions have decreased since 2007, primarily due to increases in residential energy efficiency and more renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power being built.
However, since 2007 emissions associated with transportation have increased.
How Does Houston Compare?
Houston has one of the highest per capita greenhouse gas emissions in the country, largely due to high emissions from transportation.
The City Houston needs to take a more aggressive approach to our greenhouse emissions.
Cities aren’t waiting for the rest of the world to make huge strides in confronting the climate crisis. They’re already making leaps and bounds towards a sustainable future and improving the lives of their residents in the process.
Here are just five of the many strategies cities are using to counteract climate change.
1. Embracing Renewable Energy Sources
Buildings account for 49% of Houston’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions.
And an abundance of residential and commercial buildings within a compact geographic area means many people who need electricity to power their lives and businesses. Here’s a bright idea about what to do with each of those buildings: Put solar on it!
One of the most noticeable ways that cities around the world are acting on climate is by installing renewable energy systems on their buildings. Several cities are installing solar panels on public buildings, as well as partnering with private developers to provide clean energy for city operations through power purchase agreements and other clean energy procurement tools.
2. Divesting From Fossil Fuels
The divestment movement began on college campuses, spread to churches and faith groups, and now it’s burgeoning in cities large and small in every corner of the planet. In fact, according to Fossil Free (a project by the environmental nonprofit, 350.org), there are over 500 institutions divesting that together represent approximately $3.4 trillion in assets.
By divesting, they’re making a statement against companies that are polluting our planet and reaping the profits. And that’s not only an admirable choice, but one backed by strong economic reasoning.
3. Energy Efficiency
Bright lights in the big city? At least be sure they’re energy-efficient LEDs!
Cities are making smart choices with their power by promoting energy-efficient practices and increasing efficiency standards across the board. That means buildings, manufacturers, and infrastructure use less electricity. And when you use less electricity, that means less carbon pollution is emitted from fossil-fuel based power plants.
In Toronto, for example, the city council adopted several plans over the years to boost energy efficiency, including one to make city facilities more efficient, one to reduce greenhouse gas emissions via energy efficiency and other measures, and another to better track and conserve buildings’ energy usage. As a result of the tracking and conservation plan alone, the city is on the way to saving over $17 million in energy costs per year.
4. Public Transport
If your buildings are efficient, what’s next? City residents need a way to get to their energy-efficient buildings, so transportation is another way for cities to act on climate. By supporting smarter public transportation and increasing ridership, cities can drastically cut the number of cars taking to the road – reducing traffic AND greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, the American Public Transportation Association estimates that public transportation use in the United States reduces the country’s carbon emissions by 37 million metric tons every year! That’s the equivalent of removing 7,789,474 cars from the road.
In Bogota, city officials are taking it to the next level. The historic city of nearly 8 million doesn’t have a subway system, so residents rely on cars and buses to get around. The result: increasing smog and hazardous air pollution. To clear the air, the city is replacing its traditional commuter buses and taxis with all-electric zero-emissions vehicles. Within the next decade the entire bus fleet should be carbon-free.
5. Mitigation and Adaptation
Climate change is already happening now, despite our best intentions. To prepare, many cities are restoring natural areas and taking other adaptation measures in order to protect against the impacts we’re already seeing today.
In French cities and towns, new commercial buildings will soon need to include either a green roof or solar panels. And that will help save some green too. Roofs covered in plants insulate buildings, helping reduce heating and air conditioning needs, decrease water runoff, and absorb air pollution. They also provide a welcome habitat for wildlife in an otherwise concrete and glass environment.
Many cities are also embracing “green streets” – natural and engineered methods for controlling stormwater that would otherwise gather pollutants and rush from hard street surfaces into storm drains and out into local waterways. In addition, “green streets” can help to absorb carbon dioxide and cool the surrounding area, thereby saving energy by reducing the need for air conditioning.
Business Innovation and Resilience
The City must aggressively embrace innovation.
The City currently holds pre-certification workshops at the office downtown, however lack of access to transportation, traffic and parking fees detour firms from participating. This usually results in incomplete and inaccurate application submittals. We must provide better outreach to the community around the Minority Women Business Enterprise (MWBE) certification and improve turnaround time for MWBE Certification. By hosting pre-certification workshops throughout Houston at our local libraries and community centers, citizens have an opportunity to learn how certification can help their business and learn the requirements so that the application process is not delayed due to incomplete submissions.
The City must enforce CHAPTER 252. PURCHASING AND CONTRACTING AUTHORITY OF MUNICIPALITIES Sec. 252.0215. COMPETITIVE BIDDING IN RELATION TO HISTORICALLY UNDERUTILIZED BUSINESS. A municipality, in making an expenditure of more than $3,000 but less than $50,000, shall contact at least two historically underutilized businesses on a rotating basis, based on information provided by the comptroller pursuant to Chapter 2161, Government Code. If the list fails to identify a historically underutilized business in the county in which the municipality is situated, the municipality is exempt from this section. The purchasing agent must document and show proof that an effort to procure with a historically underutilized business or startup was made.
We can continue to embrace diversity and opportunity in Houston by further expanding the Complete Communities Initiative which is about improving neighborhoods so that all of Houston’s residents and business owners can have access to quality services and amenities. It’s about working closely with the residents of communities that haven’t reached their full potential, understanding their strengths and opportunities, and collaborating with partners across the city to strengthen them. While working to improve these communities, we must also work to ensure existing residents can stay in homes that remain affordable.
Complete Communities must also:
Promote the use of micro mobility transportation options. By embracing micro mobility, such as bikes, scooters or community connector transit services we help solve the first and last mile challenges of using public transit by making it more accessible to those who don’t have it. This also decrease our Greenhouse emissions. Houston can and should improve sidewalks and bike lanes for safer and more inviting short trips within neighborhoods and retail areas.
Provide support to our school districts with after-school and summer programs, college readiness workshops for parents and youth and partnerships with local colleges, universities and trade schools to create a diverse pipeline of workforce-ready graduates.
To learn more about Complete Communities’ visit https://houstontx.gov/completecommunities/.