Air Quality

Air Quality

The Houston Ship Channel is one of the nation’s most vital waterways. As the local sponsor of this federal channel, Port Houston is committed to helping protect the water and its surrounding areas. We take pride in going above and beyond base requirements by proactively incorporating environmental features and enhancing natural landside assets.

For this reason, the Port has committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2050. This ambitious goal will be essential in addressing upstream and underlying causal factors in air quality. Port Houston is using:

  • New, innovative technologies

  • Upgraded infrastructure and modern equipment

  • Alternative fuels and clean energy sources

  • Collaboration with industry, community, and government stakeholders


As part of a larger, multi-year program to reduce its carbon footprint, Port Houston signed a 10-year contract for 100% asset-backed renewable electricity. This landmark program prevents more than 250,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions from the Port’s carbon footprint over 10 years. Port Houston is the first port authority with a renewable electricity contract of this kind.

Other Port Houston carbon dioxide reduction efforts include replacing all high-mast lighting with LEDs on Port properties, purchasing only hybrid-electric rubber-tire gantry (RTG) cranes, evaluating building energy management systems, and enhancing operational efficiencies at our terminals.

Combined with our other initiatives, this electricity contract has decreased Port Houston’s carbon footprint by 55% since 2016. We are aiming for 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2040 and, with the support of new technologies and partnerships, can envision net-zero by 2050.


As more cargo flows through the Houston Ship Channel, more vessels and trucks move on our roads and through our cities. Here are some of the ways Port Houston is focused on optimizing the movement of freight to mitigate emissions produced in transit:

  • Purchased 5 all-electric pool cars for port employees to use

  • First port in the Gulf to purchase and pilot an electric yard truck for container operations

  • 57 hybrid electric Rubber-Tired Gantry cranes purchased since 2015
  • Purchased and replaced 16 terminal tractors at Barbours Cut and Bayport Container Terminals with new, clean diesel tractors

  • Purchased and replaced 39 heavy-duty vehicles with new, clean diesel vehicles


Port Houston’s strategic goal of stewardship includes striving for and measuring improvement in air quality with our Clean Air Strategy Plan (CASP) and Goods Movement Emissions Inventory (GMEI):

  • CASP works to reduce real and sustainable maritime and Port-related emissions

  • Multi-source, multi-pollutant, multi-year program has found economically feasible ways and means to achieve emissions reductions from intermodal interests throughout the Port area

The 2019 GMEI uses the latest emission inventory tools and methodologies to quantify mobile source emissions associated with Port Houston operations. Between 2013 and 2019, pollutant levels from cargo handling equipment were reduced 46% to 74% across seven measured categories. Including related ocean and harbor vessels as well as heavy duty trucks and rail, emissions were reduced from 15% to 93%.

The focus of this inventory is on emissions from Port-related cargo movements that transited the Houston-Galveston-Brazoria (HGB) non-attainment ozone area in 2019.

We are also working to eventually eliminate dockside emissions, transitioning drayage trucks to low/no emissions vehicles, helping implement green shipping corridors, as well as green marine and road fuels.