Updated January 2018
Environmental Sustainability Overview
In 2012, we exceeded our 2020 target and have continued to do so each year. For a second year, San Antonio saw a decrease in ground-level ozone. And for the first time since 2010, we are below our baseline measure, thereby making progress toward our 2020 goal. In 2014, San Antonio met its goal to reduce water use and has continued this trend into 2016. San Antonio is making progress towards the energy use goal, but not at the rate needed to meet the target by 2020. Despite an increase in 2016, San Antonio is continuing to make progress in reducing residential waste. San Antonio also continues to make progress towards increasing recycling, but not at the rate needed to meet the goal by 2020. This measure is tracked by percent of waste diverted from landfill. We are on track to meeting our goal for development with low environmental impact. San Antonio River Authority (SARA) began tracking this measure in 2015. Prior to the addition of Low Impact Development (LID) as a voluntary use pattern in the City’s Unified Development Code (UDC), in February 2016, there were only eight projects considered “LID,” and they don’t meet the current LID standards. Finally, except for a slight increase in employment in green industries from 2011 to 2012, San Antonio has not made gains in this area since 2010 and remains flat/getting worse in 2016. Green industries includes those in businesses that produce goods or provide services that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources. These include: power and communication system construction, semiconductors and related device manufacturing, other electronic parts merchant wholesalers, engineering services, and testing laboratories.
Why is this important?
Environmental sustainability can be a catalyst for economic competitiveness by expanding green jobs through innovation in clean technology that attracts more businesses to our community and fostering local entrepreneurship. In addition, sustainability-focused policies can enhance education by providing green jobs training and programs for high school, college, and adult students. Finally, promoting environmental sustainability can positively impact health and fitness by reducing air pollution levels that cause asthma and other ailments, improving water quality, increasing access to healthy fresh local foods, and creating spaces that encourage people to get out and walk, bike, and play. In recent years, San Antonio has awakened a new sense of appreciation for our local natural environment, evident in miles of revitalized river trails and parks. Appreciation of this space needs to extend to how we impact our environment in other ways, such as how much energy and water we use every day.