Houston is America’s 4th largest city, and even with its place as the energy capital of the world, it is still a pretty typical American town: it’s not easy to get around without a car, organic food and farmers markets are hard to come by, and come summer every square foot of space is covered by blasting central air conditioning. It’s an unlikely environment for something like the Houston Access to Urban Sustainability (HAUS) Project – though actually HAUS has shown itself to be just what the city needs.
With the first co-op, the HAUS at Rosalie Street, opened in January 2011, sustainable living has come to Houston. Eleven people live in the house, a condemned and flooded home which has been renovated in full eco-style, with a rainwater catchment system, air conditioning condensate fed to the garden, a vegetable oil Mercedes, and dozens of other low-cost green building features. The commitment to sustainability is bigger than just the building though, with all food purchased as a group being local, organic, and vegetarian. The residents eat together 5 nights a week, welcoming even non-residents to share their table.
To meet with the folks at The HAUS Project is inspiring to say the least. They are a motivated, energized group of young professionals with big plans. Four more co-ops are in the works now (with the goal being 5 in 5 years for a city that previously had none), old bikes are piling up in the garage, and world domination seems imminent. As HAUS founder Paul Schechter says in the video: “At the end of the day, I like doing things that actually make a change in the world.” And they’re doing it, day in and day out.