Location: 1002 Washington Ave Houston, TX 77002
Description: Officially launched on Earth Day of 2009, Houston’s Green Building Resource Center serves as a permanent exhibition space for green solutions, targeting homeowners, builders, and general contractors. The Center shares space with Houston’s Permitting Center, in a repurposed building on the north end of Downtown.
+ Studio Red Architects were responsible for the refurbishing the Center’s current space, a general warehouse originally built in 1916.
+ The facilities were built with adaptive reuse in mind, cognizant of the changing logistical needs of municipal government.
+ Building is certified USGBC LEED Gold, featuring a raised floor system (which improves air flow), recycled construction materials, and a rooftop solar array.
+ Large rainwater catchment system is used to reduce water consumption due to irrigation.
+ Exhibition spaces aims to be interactive and accessible to the general public, not merely to homebuilders.
+ Audio/video displays and exhibits demonstrate sustainable concepts.
+ Onsite classroom available for instructional sessions, which are open to all Houston residents.
+ All products featured in the showroom have been vetted for their compliance with the City of Houston’s building code.
+ Variety of free material samples and educational pamphlets are available to the public.
Conclusion: Prior to visiting Houston’s Green Building Resource Center, I was slightly surprised at the notion of the city investing public funds in a sustainability education/awareness venture. Given Houston’s overwhelmingly laissez-faire approach to zoning/building, one might expect the city to have little interest in the promotion of energy efficiency or environmentally friendly construction materials. However, two things were apparent to me: one, the Center appears to operate on a very small budget (materials and products are sponsoring by private companies); two, instead of providing an infrastructure intensive service, the emphasis is on public education & information sharing. I believe such an approach definitely has its place, and it would be easily adapted to other markets (including the Metroplex).
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