Energy and Buildings
San Antonio is #1 in Texas and #5 in the US for Installed Solar Capacity! (Environment America Shining Cities)
Our Energy Use
San Antonio is changing how we look at our energy needs. We treat our energy use with thought, purpose, and respect. Reducing the amount of energy we use each day will save us money, protect our air and water, and conserve our fuel supplies so they can last longer. Reducing our energy use is an important step in leading healthy lives.
Our Energy Use
San Antonio Energy Use by Sector
In 2019, San Antonio used nearly 23 million MWh of electricity. Most of this energy was used in our homes (43.4%) and in commercial stores and industries (42.0%). Public authorities made up approximately 12%. Wholesale electricity buyers made up just under two percent and street lighting accounted for less than half of one percent.
Did you know?
CPS Energy created their Save for Tomorrow Energy Plan (STEP) to reduce the growth in our community’s demand for electricity by 771 MW by 2020. That’s the output of a large power plant! And with the help of the community, that goal was met a year ahead of time. Check out the progress for the STEP program!
Our Energy Use
Annual Electricity Use
San Antonio has seen a 1% increase in the amount of electricity we have consumed each year since 2015. As a community, we need to put more effort into adopting the technologies and habits needed to reduce our electricity needs.
A megawatt hour (MWh) is equal to 1,000 kilowatts of electricity used continuously for one hour. It is the amount of electricity used by about 330 homes during one hour.
Our Energy Use
Municipal Facilities are Becoming More Efficient
Energy efficiency is a critical piece of reducing our overall emissions. The Energy Efficiency Fund (EEF) was established by City Council in 2011 to fund energy conservation within municipal facilities that reduce utility expenditures. The EEF has completed 419 energy projects within 190 municipal facilities to date, which has resulted in an 11% overall reduction in energy use and a total cumulative cost savings of $1.65 million. These energy projects helped to reduce the City's carbon dioxide emissions by almost 60,000 metric tons which is equivalent to the emissions of approximately 12,600 vehicles driven for one year or 20,417 tons of landfill waste.
Wind, Solar, and Landfill Gas
San Antonio is looking to lead the nation in the generation and delivery of clean, reliable, and affordable energy. CPS Energy, our energy provider, is the nation’s largest municipally owned energy utility and is committed to growing its supply of emission-free electricity from wind, solar, and landfill gas energy sources.
Renewable Capacity Targets
CPS Energy has increased its renewable energy goal such that 50% of its electrical generation capacity comes from renewable energy by 2040. With an increase of 10% in the 5 years between 2014 and 2019, they are well on their way to meeting this goal.
Through the FlexPower initiative, CPS is making strides to bring more renewables online and use leading edge technology to modernize the energy grid in San Antonio.
Source: CPS Energy Generation Capacity (GCAP) Reports
CPS Energy's Renewable Energy Mix
CPS Energy gets 65% of its renewable energy from wind, 34% from solar and 1% from landfill gas.
The solar portion here includes both utility scale solar as well as individual rooftop systems that are contributing to the local grid and helping to make San Antonio #1 in solar generation capacity in Texas and 5th in the entire US!
Source: CPS Energy Generation Capacity (GCAP) Reports
San Antonio Solar PV Systems
The energy supply from CPS Energy includes 609 MW of solar capacity from around the region, enough energy to power over 120,000 homes. The majority of this energy is "utility scale" (meaning the energy goes directly onto our electricity grid and does not first supply energy to a building). The rest of our solar energy comes from smaller systems found on homes and buildings.
Download the data source file
National Leader in Local Solar
San Antonio has been in the top 10 cities for solar capacity since 2016. As of 2019 and through 2022, San Antonio is 5th in the Nation for installed capacity. We've achieved this status in large part thanks to the variety of forward thinking CPS Solar Energy Programs. Whether you're an owner, renter, resident or business owner; there are many ways for you to help drive the transition to clean electricity in San Antonio!
The City of San Antonio participates in CPS Energy’s SolarHostSA Program, which installs, operates, and maintains solar installations on City facilities. Currently, we have solar panels on five facilities and look to double that number within the year!
Building a Sustainable Future
San Antonio seeks to incorporate more sustainable practices within the
physical structures of the City's built environment; specifically our
buildings, water and sewer lines, stormwater systems, wastewater
treatment facilities, and other infrastructure. By making these more
sustainable, we will reduce our energy and water use which will make our air cleaner and our environment healthier.
San Antonians are fortunate as there are three different ways they can get their homes and businesses recognized for incorporating sustainability aspects into their designs. They include a local initiative called Build San Antonio Green (for homes, multifamily and commercial) and two national initiatives, Energy Star and LEED for all building types.
Build San Antonio Green Homes
When a home, apartment, or commercial building is certified by Build San Antonio Green (BSAG),
it meets a rigorous set of criteria to ensure it is green in all areas.
Owning a BSAG home means you will enjoy lower utility bills and higher
comfort, and a reduced impact on the environment. A Build San Antonio
Green Home is designed to be 15% more efficient than a home built to
San Antonio has a goal to have 25,000 homes certified through the Build San Antonio Green Program by 2040. By the end of 2018, we will have met 27% of this goal by having 6,655 homes awarded this certification. These BSAG homes have reduced San Antonio's peak energy demand by 10.5 megawatts each year. This is equivalent to the electricity used in 7,350 homes.
San Antonio Facility Design Guidelines and Standards
The City of San Antonio developed an energy policy called The Facility Design Guidelines and Standards, which requires all City-owned and managed buildings and operations to incorporate sustainable design and energy efficiency principles. These guidelines also provide the foundation for including sustainable practices on municipal facilities and to further reduce our environmental impact of our government operations.
Benchmarking & Disclosure
Reaching our goals for energy efficiency will need both engagement by the private sector and a way to better track our progress. Building benchmarking and disclosure is a key strategy to advance both of those requirements. By increasing transparency in building performance, building owners will be incentivized to race to the top. As the savings and recognition enjoyed by owners and tenants of the most efficient buildings are made visible, efficiency will be sought after more and more. Unleashing market forces in this way has had impressive results in other cities, including:
- Chicago: Energy consumption down 5.2% from 2014 to 2018. $15.1 million bill savings per year.
- Minneapolis: Energy consumption down 3.4% from 2014 to 2016. $21 million bill savings per year.
- Denver: Energy consumption down 4.5% from 2017 to 2018. $13.5 million bill savings per year.
- New York: Energy consumption down 10% from 2010 to 2015.
- Seattle: Energy consumption down 3% from 2014 to 2015.
- San Francisco: Energy consumption down 7.9% from 2010 to 2014.
Learn more about the effort on the City of San Antonio’s Energy Benchmarking and Disclosure for Buildings webpage.
Top performing buildings can receive certifications that demonstrate their performance and their building owner's commitment to managing their properties sustainably. Certifications can be granted as new green buildings are built, but many of them receive certifications for being run efficiently, regardless of when they were built.
The Energy Star program, run by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), focuses solely on energy performance and recognizes buildings that are among the top performers among their peers nation wide.
The LEED rating system certifies buildings at several different levels of performance and incorporates a range of other sustainability criteria into their scoring criteria. In addition to the commercial facilities here, there are over 380 LEED Certified single family homes in San Antonio.
As building energy benchmarking and reporting becomes the norm, we expect to see many more building owners strive for certification to stand out among their peers.
Measuring Impact of Climate Ready Strategies
To reach our goal of being carbon neutral by 2050, the City needs to implement high-impact strategies that will reduce our emissions. San Antonio analyzed the potential impact of 6 key climate action strategies prioritized within the SA Climate Ready Plan and found that, if enacted as soon as possible, these strategies would get us to 46% of our reduction target. The strategies included energy benchmarking for commercial and multi-family buildings, white roofs and energy insulation building code, electric vehicle charger readiness building code, solar readiness building code, zero net energy in municipal buildings, and incentivizing urban agriculture. Energy benchmarking alone would return $4.78 in benefits for every $1 invested. To read more about the strategies, refer to the Cost-Benefit Analysis of Key Climate Ready Strategies report.
Sustainability Upgrades with PACE program
On March 5, 2020, the City of San Antonio City Council officially established the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program within the city limits. PACE is an innovative financing tool that allows owners of commercial, industrial, nonprofit, and large multi-family residential properties access to low-cost, long-term loans to conduct energy efficiency and water conservation improvements to real property. Since the establishment of the PACE Act in Texas, over 35 counties and cities have implemented the program in their jurisdictions, resulting in 26 executed projects valued at over $100 million in loans.
San Antonio’s historic Travis Building will be undergoing a $5 million renovation for efficiency upgrades with support secured through the TX-PACE program. The upgrades will include reflective roofing, LED lighting, water-conserving plumbing modifications, and HVAC upgrades that will result in an estimated $8.4 million in energy cost savings over its lifespan. The building will ultimately house 63 multifamily units and keep its dedicated retail space on the ground floor. Renovations are expected to be complete in spring of 2022.
For any inquiries regarding PACE, please email Lyle Hufstetler firstname.lastname@example.org with AACOG or Thomas Davis Thomas.Davis@sanantonio.gov with the City of San Antonio.
Every Little Bit Helps! Make Your Home or Building Greener!
We all need to play a role in using our natural resources more selectively. By developing our buildings and infrastructure to still perform the way we want them to while using less fuel, water, and other resources, we are making strides in the right direction. Learn more about how you can do more with less.
Household Energy Burden
In addition to building better structures, we need to work on reducing energy use in existing buildings, including across the many homes in our community.
The portion of household income that is spent on energy takes away from available spending on other necessities and investments that could otherwise be used to live a happy and sustainable life.
On average, San Antonio households spent 3% of their income on energy. Those earning less put a much higher proportion of their income towards energy costs. Households with a "high energy burden" spend over 6% of their income on energy. 22% of San Antonio households meet that level. Even worse, there are over 88,000 households in San Antonio with a severe energy burden in excess of 10% of income.
When we invest in energy efficiency in our community, it is not only to protect the climate, but also to build a more financially resilient community.
Energy Burden Data from American Council for an Energy Efficiency Economy (ACEEE) 2020 Household Energy Burden Report
Be Part of the Solution!
All San Antonians have a role to play to reduce the amount of energy they consume each day. We also have choices about where we get that energy from. Learn about how the City makes it easier to use less energy and switch to renewables!