By Sean Pendergast
By Sean Pendergast
By Sean Pendergast
By Jeff Balke
By Richard Connelly
By Jeff Balke
By Casey Michel
By Craig Hlavaty
The City of Houston may be promoting all things eco-friendly these days, but that doesn't mean that it's easy to go green.
At least that's what one local business owner is finding out.
Chris Toman is trying to open a Pizza Fusion restaurant, part of a chain with franchises in 12 other states that uses recyclable materials and green technology. Toman says, for example, he plans on using the basketball court from Pearland High School to build his hardwood floors and tables, recycled jeans for insulation, recycled Coke bottles to make the counters and will use Hybrid cars to deliver pizzas.
In essence, says Toman, all the franchises are built from the same eco-friendly cookie-cutter design. So far, he says, every restaurant in the chain has the prestigious LEED certification plaque from the U.S. Green Building Council, which recognizes that the buildings are environmentally responsible and that the project meets the highest green building and performance measures.
Toman says that it's cost the other franchisers between $2,000 and $14,000 to get their roughly 2,500-square-foot restaurants certified. But not in Houston. Here, Toman says, consultants who process LEED certifications want around $40,000 to do the job.
"It's like I'm being punished for trying to do something good," says Toman. "I've talked to pretty much every company I can find. I've gotten quotes from people and they're all like, 'Yeah, it's forty-grand.' It's ridiculous."
"[Pizza Fusion is] one of those scenarios where they have a small-footprint restaurant," she says, "and it's the same amount of work [for us as] for a 50,000-square-foot building. So unfortunately, in small-footprint buildings like Pizza Fusion, you don't get that benefit of size to back you up, but you're still looking at the same amount of effort to put in the paperwork."
In general, says, Tullos, $40,000 is not unheard-of, but the cost usually depends on the project and the consulting team.
"There's nothing here that's any more expensive than anywhere else," Tullos says.
Still, Toman says his will be the only franchise in the chain not to have the LEED certification because it costs too much. He will build and operate the pizzeria in the same green fashion; it just won't have the plaque.
Ashley Katz, Communication Manager for the U.S. Green Building Council, says she is surprised to hear how much Toman has been told he needs to pay.
"That's a large amount of money," Katz says. "It's not something I've heard of. Certification costs are capped at $22,500, and that's for a 500,000-square-foot building. So, if you're looking at really high fees, those are probably coming from the contractors charging a premium because of their experience in green building. That's not associated with us at all. Honestly, it's just the contractors...and that's unfortunate."
"I am very frustrated with the fact that Houston is going green and companies are taking advantage of this and charging inflated prices," says Toman. "It's just ridiculous, and I'm sure a lot of other places are saying, 'Forget this,' because of the price. I feel Houston is missing a great opportunity."San Francisco Beats Down Houston's Resistance
The final tallies are in: Thanks to Jonathan Franzen, some local musicians and a band — but apparently not Hair Balls, even though we did our part — San Francisco's Progressive Reading Series will be donating 276 recycling bins to the hapless city of Houston.
It's been a tough road — but eventually the walls of bureaucracy came crumbling down in the face of self-satisfied preening.
The event itself sounded very San Franciscan.
In honor of the recipient of their largesse, a cover band at the event sang "Dirty Old Town," a song made famous by The Pogues.
But we prefer the excerpt from one of the readers at the standing-room-only event. "Ali Wong cried: 'Oh Progressive Reading Series, you're all so serious. Girls with bangs and glasses, Rainbow Grocery employees smelling of hummus and privilege!'"
We couldn't have said it better.
And I already have a recycling bin, so I won't be getting any of that great booty either.Texas Lottery: Come for the Games, Stay for the Porn
Check out all the female ass on slingo.com, just waiting for your drooling attention!
No, really, check it out — the Texas Lottery wants you to.
As KHOU reported, the Lottery has signed a contract with a Web site called slingo.com to market one of their games. Part of the agreement is that the Texas Lottery Web site has to include a link to Slingo.
And when you go to Slingo, you see some ass. And come-on looks. And, allegedly, all kinds of nastiness in the "members profile" section.
"We came across several that are direct links into pornographic Web sites where individuals talk about who they are and then, 'Come look at my link,'" said the outraged-on-demand member of the Christian Life Commission interviewed by KHOU.
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