Last week, Air Alliance Houston was invited to participate in the 2015 Clean Air Through Energy Efficiency (CATEE) conference in Galveston, TX. Hosted at the fabulous Hotel Galvez, we shared exhibitor space with more than a dozen other companies and organizations interested in furthering our mission of improving air quality.
Keynote speaker and former AAH Executive Director Matthew Tejada (who presently serves as the EPA’s Director of the Office of Environmental Justice) spoke on Wednesday morning about EJ2020, the Clean Power Plan, and the Clean Energy Incentive Program. With an eye and an ear attuned to grassroots organizing, he insisted that communities be invited to the table whenever governments are discussing what to do about the problem of climate change. From his wealth of experience in this arena, he claimed that communities have continued to bring him three main desires: they want clean technology brought to low-income communities, which have historically been left out of high-dollar innovations; they want to ensure that their utility bills wont increase; and they want equity in reaping the economic benefits that clean energy businesses will bring, including but not limited to job creation. By the end of the conference, after hearing so many wonderful presentations on various initiatives and innovations, I am convinced that all three of these dreams can be realized within a reasonable frame of time.
The best breakout session that I attended was focused on transportation, and featured speakers from TCEQ (on the TERP program update), the Rocky Mountain Institute (presenting the idea of mobility as a service), Houston METRO (on our newly-redesigned transit system), and DFW Airport (concerning their work within the Airport Carbon Accreditation Program). I find transportation issues to be one of the most fascinating aspects of urbanization, and was honestly quite impressed with the strides that each of these entities had made towards improving energy efficiency in their communities. It is my hope that our cities are able to learn from one another’s improvements, to take action and realize the intent of the conference, in order to continue to improve the overall air quality of our region.
I hope to be able to attend the 2016 CATEE conference and hear about all of the strides that have been taken over the past year, driven by the impetus of a few like-minds sharing ideas.