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Houston Climate Week 2021

Houston Climate Week | November 15-19 2021

Houston has long been known as a city of innovation thanks to its connections to the energy industry, space travel and maritime trade. It also is a city that is fraught with environmental challenges as evidenced by Winter Storm Uri and past hurricanes and tropical disturbances. The root of these challenges may seem out of our control, but through scientific research, thoughtful deliberation and insightful initiatives, community members are implementing a Climate Action Plan and Resilient Houston.

During Houston Climate Week, some of the top minds in science, business, public policy, transportation and other areas critical to Houston’s growth will come together for a week dedicated to virtual discussions on the issues driving these plans:

  • Building Optimization
  • Transportation
  • Energy Transition
  • Materials Management

Resilience and equity also will factor into this program, which is free and open to the public.

Houston Climate Week Logos.

Confirmed panels, participants, organizations, and moderators are as follows:

Monday — November 15

Climate Change and Adaptation — Framing the Discussion | 1:00 – 2:00 p.m.

Sylvester Turner, Mayor – City of Houston
Priya Zachariah, Chief Resilience & Sustainability Officer – City of Houston

Moderated by: Carlos Pascual, Senior Vice President – Global Energy, IHS Markit

Mayor Turner kicks off Houston Climate Week with a conversation about climate change and the vision for a resilient and sustainable future for all Houstonians.

Join Mayor Turner, Priya Zachariah, and Carlos Pascual as they set the stage for Houston Climate Week 2021, provide highlights from COP26, and discuss Houston's commitment to climate adaptation, carbon neutrality, and plans for the newly merged Mayor’s Office of Resilience and Sustainability.

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Not Cool? - A Discussion on Urban Heat and Resilience | 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Dr. Meredith Jennings, Research Associate – Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC)
Jaime Gonzalez, Director – Houston Healthy Cities Programs, The Nature Conservancy
Natalie Jones, Projects & Volunteer Coordinator – Trees for Houston
David McLean, Founder & President – McMac Cx

Moderated by: Dr. Lisa Morano, Director – Center for Urban Agriculture and Sustainability, University of Houston-Downtown

As climate change brings longer, hotter summers to Houston, some communities are disproportionately impacted by the negative effects on their health and quality of life.

Dr. Meredith Jennings, Jaime Gonzalez, Natalie Jones, David MacLean, and Dr. Lisa Morano will discuss the Urban Heat Island effect, the unequal health impacts of extreme heat, and explore the policy, technology, and nature-based solutions at our disposal to help bridge the gap in building resilience to combat the effects of urban heat.

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Building a Legacy of Equity: Opportunities and Challenges for Weatherization Programs to Advance Climate Equity and Justice for Houston Residents | 6:00 - 7:00 p.m.

Elizabeth Brock, Vice President – Energy Solutions & Business Services, CenterPoint Energy
Carmen Cavezza, Climate Justice Oranizer – Coalition for Environment, Equity & Resilience (CEER)
Doris Brown, Community Ambassador – Coalition for Environment, Equity & Resilience (CEER)
Sommer Harrison, Director of Weatherization – BakerRipley
Stephen Brown, Interim CEO – Clean Energy Fund of Texas

Moderated by: Shannon Buggs, Director – Mayor’s Office of Complete Communities, City of Houston

The energy used in buildings currently accounts for roughly 49% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Houston. Weatherizing buildings and making energy efficiency improvements isn’t just about climate benefits either—it can boost resilience to extreme heat and cold events too. But in low-income communities, families often lack the resources to address basic home repairs before they can be eligible for weatherization assistance.

Elizabeth Brock, Carmen Cavezza, Doris Brown, Sommer Harrison, Stephen Brown, and Shannon Buggs will address the current state of weatherization assistance programs and explore available policy solutions that can help families make their homes more resilient, reduce carbon emissions, and save on energy bills.

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Tuesday — November 16

Charged Up: Houston leaders electrifying our transportation system | 1:00 – 2:00 p.m.

Terrance York, Division Manager – Fleet Management Department, City of Houston
Ryan Martin, Managing Partner – EVolve Houston
Tom Lambert, President & CEO – METRO
Katie Stevens, Head of State & Local Policy – Nuro

Moderated by: Fellipe Balieiro, Director – Energy and Mobility, IHS Markit

With 47% of greenhouse gas emissions in Houston coming from the transportation sector, electric vehicles are a great tool to reduce our city’s carbon footprint and improve air quality.

Tom Lambert, Ryan Martin, Katie Stevens, Terrance York, and Fellipe Balieiro will discuss commitments to switch to electric vehicles, the expected benefits, and provide an update on ongoing efforts to electrify fleets.

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Talking Trash: How to reduce landfill waste and accelerate the Circular Economy? | 6:00 – 7:00 p.m.

Keith Koski, Assistant Superintendent – Solid Waste Department, City of Houston
Monica Orozco, High Schooler/Girl Scout – Heights Zero Waste Compost Pick-Up Program
Matthew Fiedler, Head of Technology – re:3D

Moderated by: Dr. Ramanan Krishnamoorti, Chief Energy Officer – University of Houston

Houstonians throw away roughly 7 lbs of waste per person each day, compared to a national average of 4.9 lbs and a world average of 1.6 lbs. The landfills Houston currently depends on are quickly reaching capacity and trash that is not properly disposed of ends up in our bayous and, eventually, our oceans.

Reducing landfill waste through reusing, recycling, refusing, repairing, and composting is critical to Houston and our environment, and we need to find more innovative ways to manage our waste.

Keith Koski, Monica Orozco, Matthew Fiedler, and Dr. Ramanan Krishnamoorti will address the current state of waste management in Houston and explore some of the solutions — from recycling and composting to growing the circular economy — that can help us reduce waste, extend the life of our landfills, and save money in the process.

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Wednesday — November 17

Energy 2.0: More green jobs and economic development opportunities for Houston | 1:00 – 2:00 p.m.

Ed Graham, Vice President – Ventures, ExxonMobil Low Carbon Solutions
Jeremy Armstrong, Vice President of People & Culture – bp Hydrogen
Laura Goldberg, Senior Vice President of Strategy – Center for Houston’s Future
Dr. Emily Reichert, CEO – Greentown Labs
Ken Williams, Fuse Fellow – Mayor’s Office of Complete Communities, City of Houston

Moderated by: Dr. Dietrich von Biedenfeld, Assistant Professor of Business Law – University of Houston-Downtown

Growing new energy industries such as carbon capture, clean hydrogen, renewables, and battery storage, represents an opportunity for Houston to create wealth and jobs while reducing carbon emissions. But how do we ensure equitable access to these new opportunities, especially for low-income communities and communities of color?

Dr. Emily Reichert, Laura Goldberg, Ken Williams, and Dietrich von Biedenfeld will showcase some of the economic opportunities the energy transition is bringing to Houston and discuss the policy levers needed to increase diversity in the energy sector.

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Community and Youth Climate Action: Voices of the next generation of Houstonians | 6:00 – 7:00 p.m.

Evelina Torres, Youth Climate Ambassador – City of Houston
Riley Hardwick – UHD SUSTAIN
Julia Lewis – CAP Youth Working Group/Houston Youth Climate Strike
Daniella Flanagan – Complete Communities University
Tommy Wan – Mi Familia Vota

Moderated by: Yaneth Calderon, Climate Equity Coordinator – Mayor’s Office of Resilience & Sustainability, City of Houston

Climate action is about protecting the environment and building resilient and sustainable systems to ensure a livable future for our children and grandchildren. Young leaders throughout the world have been raising their concerns over climate change and the threat it represents for their future. They are conscious of the challenges they will inevitably inherit and they are demanding governments at all levels take bold and transformative action, now.

Join Evelina Torres, Riley Hardwick, Julia Lewis, Daniella Flanagan, Tommy Wan, and Yaneth Calderon to hear the next generation of local climate leaders share their vision for a resilient, sustainable, and equitable Houston.

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Thursday — November 18

Never Again: Pathways to a green and resilient Texas grid | 1:00 – 2:00 p.m.

Kimberly Johnston, Partner, US Energy Transition Leader – EY
Rachel Powers, Executive Director – Citizens Environmental Coalition
Randy Pryor, Vice President – Distribution Projects & Grid Modernization, CenterPoint Energy
Dr. Margaret Cook, Research Associate – Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC)

Moderated by: Doug Lewin, President – Stoic Energy

Climate change leads to more extreme weather events, including winter storms and below freezing temperatures. Earlier this year, 9 out of 10 residents of Harris County lost power at some point between February 14 and 20. Texas’ power system wasn’t ready for the freezing cold brought by Winter Storm Uri, which led to a system-wide failure that left many Houstonians without heat or water for days.

Kimberly Johnston, Rachel Powers, Randy Pryor, Margaret Cook, and Doug Lewin will discuss the current state of our Texas grid and explore the policy and technology solutions needed to make it more resilient and more sustainable.

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Taking Back the Streets: Designing cities for people, not cars | 6:00 – 7:00 p.m.

Jonathan Brooks, Director of Policy & Planning – LINK Houston
Veronica Davis, Director – Transportation & Drainage Operations, City of Houston
Beth White, President & CEO – Houston Parks Board
Alan Clark, Chief Strategy Officer – METRO

Moderated by: David Fields, Chief Transportation Planner – City of Houston

With 94% of passenger trips in Houston taken in cars and almost 80% of on-road emissions coming from passenger vehicles, how can we transform our city to spend less time in traffic, improve air quality and road safety, and reclaim space for human activity?

Join Veronica Davis, Jonathan Brooks, Beth White, Alan Clark, and David Fields as they envision a future where urban planning, infrastructure design, and transportation policies put people first.

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Friday — November 19

Inclusive Excellence, the Way Forward: A Critical conversation on Environmental Justice and Sustainability | 1:00 - 2:00 p.m.

Yvette Arellano, Founder & Director – Fenceline Watch
Ayanna Jolivet McCloud, Executive Director – Bayou City Waterkeep
Stephany Mgbadigha, Legal & Advocacy Director – Air Alliance Houston
Bridgette Murray, Founder & Executive Director – Achieving Community Tasks Successfully

Moderated by: Dr. Natacha Poggio, Assistant Professor of Graphic Design – University of Houston-Downtown

As part of the UHD President's Lecture Series on Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion, this conversation will bring together leaders in higher education, public policy and public health for a conversation on issues related to Houston's climate.

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Federal Infrastructure Plan: Opportunities for Houston, climate adaptation and the future | 3:00 - 4:00 p.m.

Sylvester Turner, Mayor – City of Houston
Evan Smith, Co-founder – Texas Tribune

Mayor Turner brings Houston Climate Week to a close with a conversation about the transformational potential of the Federal Infrastructure Plan and opportunities to boost resilience and sustainability in Houston.

Join Mayor Sylvester Turner and Evan Smith as they discuss the critical importance of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in accelerating Houston’s efforts to adapt to climate change, lead the global energy transition, and achieve carbon neutrality.

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Last updated 1/5/2022 5:13 AM