02/25/13 10:00am

IF YOU CAN’T BEAT ’EM . . . Two single-family houses in Midtown, 1505 Rosalie and 1917 Ruth (pictured here), have been home since 2010 to an assortment of yoga instructors, police sergeants, and college students, all of whom share the cooking and cleaning in a cooperative housing project, reports the Houston Chronicle’s Nancy Sarnoff. Part of Houston Access to Urban Sustainability, the houses require all tenants to sign a “sustainability pledge” before they move in, but that doesn’t mean it’s all rainbows and rain barrels: “Each person is responsible for contributing five hours of labor to the house per week. Those who shirk their domestic duties are fined $10 for every hour missed.” Sarnoff adds: “There are regular parties and events, though the housemates are quick to stamp out comparisons to hippie communes or college frat houses. Such misconceptions frustrate Rabea Benhalim, a corporate finance attorney who says some think the residents can’t be professional and they all do drugs and sleep together.” [Houston Chronicle ($)] Photo of 1917 Ruth St.: HAUS

11/06/07 10:48am

Map of Proposed Aperion Communities Developments

Why do we need the Grand Parkway? To connect all those new green-living communities spreading way out into the Texas prairie!

An Arizona development company is master-planning a master-planned community for a tiny 4,000-plus-acre plot in Alvin, linking the Grand Parkway, FM 1462, and highway 288. Yes, that’s bigger than Shadow Creek Ranch.

It’s called Inspiration at Alvin, if you believe the mayor, or Inspiration @ Chocolate Bayou if you believe the Aperion Communities website.

Alvin mayor Gary Appelt announced that the expected population when the project is built out — in 30 years — is 25,000 people. That’s just over six people per acre. No wonder they’re calling it green!

Inspiration is the first lifestyle enhanced sustainable community model ever created. It’s where Aperion’s programs for energy, health, business and transportation are connected directly to your home.

The company website lists the development at a just-slightly larger 5,500 acres, which means residents will have even more room to spread their windmills. Aperion is also threatening a 6,000-acre development called Inspiration @ Lake Houston. All in all, there are five Inspiration communities proposed for Texas and two for New Mexico. That’s more than 36,434 acres of currently wasted farms and ranchland transformed into sustainable, productive living spaces. Go green!

05/17/07 10:19am

Home in Oak Ridge North

Since February, about half the residents of Oak Ridge North, a small city just across I-45 from the Woodlands, have been getting their electricity from chicken fat. The nation’s first entirely biodiesel-generated electrical plant, run by Biofuels Power Corp., supplies power to the community. The fuel comes from a sister company, Safe Renewables, which runs a plant two miles away that can create biodiesel from vegetable oils too. But chicken fat is apparently plentiful around here, so Oak Ridge north gets powered by schmaltz.

The power facility has the capacity to produce approximately 5 MW of electricity using three used diesel Caterpillar generators that act as a single source of power. At full load, they use 72 gallons of biodiesel per MW hour. An interesting feature is that waste heat from the generators is used to keep the fuel tank warm and prevent . . . the biodiesel from gelling. The company is experimenting with various additives to decrease emissions and increase efficiency. “We hope to get down to 60 gallons per megawatt hour,” Crimmins says.

When’s poultry power coming to the rest of Houston? Well, there’s that pesky nitrogen-oxide-that-becomes-ozone emissions problem. We hope they’ll be able to keep that French fry smell out of the AC, too.

Photo: xgray‘s childhood home in Oak Ridge North