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
December 16, 2020 -- Mayor Sylvester Turner is proud to announce that Houston is taking the lead on a transformative program for building climate resilience. The new Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) Tax Abatement program encourages the implementation of green stormwater infrastructure in private development. The LEED tax abatement program was updated with the intent of having more private development take advantage of the existing incentive.
“Storms are coming at greater frequency, intensity, and cost,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “This is an economic issue. The new Green Stormwater Infrastructure Tax Abatement program is a good start, and in alignment with many of our priorities, including Resilient Houston, Harvey Recovery, and our Climate Action Plan.”
The program is one of the recommendations included in the Incentives for Green Development study and report, released in August of 2019 and funded by the Houston Endowment. It will offer direct tax abatements to qualifying projects through an application process, which further the goals outlined in Resilient Houston, the City’s Resilience Strategy released in February of 2020. Resilient Houston also identified a target of at least 100 new green stormwater infrastructure projects by 2025.
GSI provides public benefits, including flood, urban heat island, and air and water quality mitigation as well as beautification and quality of life improvements. However, widespread adoption in Houston is low due to limiting factors, including costs, maintenance, lack of City support, and misaligned rules and regulations. The tax abatement program aims to break those barriers to incentivize additional integration into Houston’s built environment. While the GSI program focuses on climate hazard mitigation and adaptation, it will complement the LEED program, which focuses on making buildings more efficient and sustainable.
Mayor Turner’s work to advance GSI will continue beyond one program. As the application process for the tax abatement is finalized, focus will shift towards implementing the remaining three recommendations proposed in the Incentives for Green Development report. The combination of an integrated set of rules, design criteria, and regulations for GSI; a recognition program; an expedited permitting process along with the tax abatement program will ensure that there are incentive opportunities for different projects across all scales (individual, neighborhood, bayou, city, and region) to make Houstonians and their communities more resilient, more adaptive, and more equitable.
Mayor Turner thanked District Councilmember Abbie Kamin for her leadership in sponsoring a budget amendment that set a December 2020 deadline to complete the process.
“This is an important step toward a resilient and sustainable Houston," said Councilmember Kamin. "It represents a more holistic approach to the issues of flooding and climate change that we are tackling with the support of our private sector. Green stormwater infrastructure needs to become the new normal in Houston, and I’m glad we’re making progress toward that goal.”
Mayor Turner also acknowledged the Houston Endowment, stakeholders and peer-review groups, and staff, and Council for their work in moving this effort forward.
For more information on the Incentives for Green Development, visit www.houstontx.gov/igd.
For more information on Resilient Houston, visit www.houstontx.gov/mayor/chief-resilience-officer.html.