Sustainable Stories: City of El Lago

EDITOR’S NOTE: We want to learn how other companies approach sustainability, so we’ve decided to publish a series of posts featuring innovative companies and people who are doing their part to support our planet. See below to read an interview with Robert White, mayor of El Lago.

Tell us a little bit about the City of El Lago.

1234 / EL LAGO CITY HALL / CRE8 ARCHITECTS

El Lago City Hall Center

We are a small and primarily residential community with a population of just under 3,000. El Lago encompasses an area of 11 linear miles and is nearly surrounded by water, with Clear Lake bordering us to the south, Taylor Lake to the west, and Galveston Bay only about a mile away to the east. Located midway between Houston and Galveston Island, El Lago is only about 30 miles from both downtowns. Incorporated in 1961 to avoid being annexed by Houston, El Lago was developed so that employees of Johnson Space Center would have a place to live. In fact, El Lago was known as “the home of the astronauts” because over 46 astronauts who have flown in space have lived in El Lago, including Neil Armstrong and many of the early Apollo crewmembers.

“We can only hope that other cities will join with El Lago in enhancing the quality of life for their residents, by recycling, using renewable energy, and reusing local assets.”

 

How did the decision to power the city’s streets with 100% renewable energy come about?

We in El Lago believe in the old adage “Think globally, act locally.” We are changing the way we make decisions that affect our town. We look into the future and picture our city as a contributor in making the lives of each one of our citizens better and, also, the world in general. Yes, we may be small, but enough drops of rain make a mighty river.

For the last two years, El Lago has looked for ways to meaningfully make a difference, not only to the city itself, but our area in general. The jump to thinking more globally wasn’t that big of a stretch. We started with small changes, like going paperless and recycling.

Then, the city started developing other ways to get involved in creating a more sustainable way of doing business. One of our larger costs was electricity. At first, our goal was saving money and trying to contract with a provider for the sole purpose of reducing city expenses. However, keeping in mind the overall plan to make a difference globally, we started to consider renewable energy.

What are some of the city’s sustainable efforts?

We’ve taken the city council and many aspects of the City Hall offices paperless. Curbside recycling has been in place for more than a decade, and we recycle Christmas trees each year. We’ve just had LED heads installed on all the city streetlights, and now, all the city power accounts have been moved to Green Mountain Energy (GME).

How did you come to use GME as your service provider?

GME is the largest, most well established and competitive of the 100% renewable providers. The rates that we receive from GME are better than most non-renewable providers. The choice was easy for our city. Our philosophy and GME’s prices are a perfect fit for how we want our city to grow into the future.

We can only hope that other cities will join with El Lago in enhancing the quality of life for their residents, by recycling, using renewable energy, and reusing local assets.

Where can people learn more about El Lago?

You can visit www.ellago-tx.gov for more information.

To read about more businesses and people focused on sustainability, visit our “Sustainability Stories” archive by clicking here.