In this series, we’re exploring state and local building efficiency regulations to give you a bird’s-eye view of the policies that may impact your portfolio.
Texas, the second-largest state in the US by both area and population, has warmed between 0.5 to one degree (F) in the past century.1 The last 20 years have also brought intense weather events that have left Texas’s power grid increasingly susceptible to failure, ranging from extreme heat to the recent and catastrophic deep freeze that took place in January 2021.
While the deregulated energy market in Texas often provides lower-cost housing, cheaper electricity, and lower taxes, Texas's complex grid is not designed to handle the extreme weather-related events ushered in by climate change. Power providers supply electricity to customers, but are not legally required to do so – and don't face penalties when they fail to deliver service during an emergency.
A similar deregulated philosophy seems to cross over to the demand side as well. While Texas has expansive voluntary and incentive programs to encourage building owners to track, monitor, and reduce their energy demand from the grid, there is less mandatory regulation than one might expect in such a populous state. Beyond requiring buildings to meet the 2015 IECC’s building code standards for new construction, and mandating energy benchmarking and auditing for all municipal buildings, the Lone Star State hasn’t taken some of the next steps to enhance building efficiency. Some of the major cities in Texas have, however, gone a bit further. Fort Worth and San Antonio have voluntary energy benchmarking programs, and Austin requires almost all building owners to benchmark, audit, and report efficiency scores to prospective buyers. Houston is also a participant in the Better Buildings Initiative.
Overall, Texas has taken a more “hands-off” approach and relies heavily on broad participation in voluntary reporting and local incentive programs.
We’ve compiled the key building energy requirements, policies, and plans for Texas. For more information on voluntary incentive programs across the state, please see the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency.