"I SEE THE INCENTIVES AS AN INTEGRAL PART OF MY VISION OF A SUSTAINABLE, SAFER, STRONGER, AND SMARTER HOUSTON THAT WILL HELP MEET THE GOALS OF THE CITY'S EMERGING RESILIENCE STRATEGY, CLIMATE ACTION PLAN, BUILD HOUSTON FORWARD PROGRAM, AND HARVEY RECOVERY EFFORTS."
-- MAYOR TURNER
Incentives for Green Development
Creating Houston's Green Development Incentives was the first step toward achieving a robust Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) program, which includes municipal and private development projects.
Thanks to funding from Houston Endowment, the city commissioned a one-year study to identify and recommend incentives encouraging the use of GSI in private land development, because of economic, social, and environmental benefits which increase resilience.
GSI are sustainable practices, applied to new and/or retrofitted development projects, which mimic how rain falls on undeveloped, green landscape. Typical GSI practices include green roofs, rain gardens, bio-retention systems, permeable or porous pavements, rainwater harvesting, urban greening, bioswales, and constructed wetlands; as well as other strategies to capture and sustainably manage stormwater on a project site. These practices improve performance of existing drainage systems limiting stormwater runoff, preventing pollutants from reaching Houston’s bayous, and increase the value of real estate or commercial development projects.
After interviewing cities with GSI programs, external stakeholders, and city leadership as well as conducting an analysis of costs and benefits, the following Incentives for Green Development (IGD) programs were recommended:
- Increased Permitting Process Certainty and Speed
- Award and Recognition Program
- Green Property Tax Abatements
- Integrated GSI Development Rules
The four IGD programs have been established since 2021.
GSI Expedited Permitting Pilot Program
Through this program, the City has worked with developers to test and formalize process steps necessary for an expedited review of projects that include GSI. The program has provided assistance by consolidating and expediting the permitting process for green development projects. This IGD is currently under review to identify opportunities for establishing increased speed and accessibility.
GSI Awards and Recognition
This program is intended to recognize some of the most effective and exemplary GSI in Houston and encourage more development projects to adopt resilient measures. It established an evaluation committee comprised of partners in the resilience and conservation space and includes specific criteria for the green developments to be judged.
The application period was closed on October 15th, 2021.
Check back for future updates regarding this incentive program.
DIY GSI Sponge Garden
Managing water onsite doesn’t have to be complex. Natural and native gardens in our homes play a significant role in storing water, encouraging infiltration, filtering out pollutants, and providing a wide array of co-benefits. In partnership with the Houston Green Building Resource Center, a Sponge Garden guide was created to allow Houstonians to build small gardens that detain or slow down water onsite, prior to reaching the storm sewer system.
GSI Tax Abatement Program
Through this program, an applicant can incorporate GSI in exchange for a tax abatement. For more information on the program, please refer to the documents below.
- GSI Tax Abatement Application and Evaluation Process (.pdf, February 2021)
- Houston City Council Approves New Green Stormwater Infrastructure Tax Abatement Program and Updates Existing LEED Tax Abatement Program to Improve Houston's Climate Resilience and Sustainability (12.16.2020 Mayor's Office Press Release)
- TO APPLY -- VISIT www.houstontx.gov/ecodev/tax_abatements.html
- For more information, contact GSIHouston@houstontx.gov
Letters of Support