The Greener Side
Seven years ago, in the underserved region of Ensenado, Mexico, Greenworld Restoration began to research and provide sustainable housing solutions to communities without running water, wastewater or electricity. There, the company developed a host of revolutionary building technologies, including closed-loop water systems and lighter, seismic-resistant concrete. Today, Greenworld Restoration and owner Michael Torres seek to implement those unique solutions around the world, from Bastrop County to Haiti, as they rethink the future of home construction. “When we look at the way we construct, it hasn’t changed a great deal in the last 50 years or so, but technology is changing all the time,” Torres observes. “Greenworld Restoration looks at materials differently—we’re making them stronger and more sustainable.”
“Sustainable,” however, is more than a mere buzzword—it is the company’s driving force. Whether Greenworld Restoration is constructing 7000 homes for industrial workers in northern Haiti or a single home in Port Arthur, it relies on its founding principles of economic, environmental and cultural sustainability. In fact, the need for sustainable housing solutions has never been greater: since 2010, over 20 million individuals have been displaced by natural disasters, and with the ever-expanding oil and gas industries, thousands of new job seekers have found themselves in areas with limited housing and infrastructure to support them. Rather than returning to older methods of construction, Greenworld Restoration instead looks forward to newer, safer and more sustainable possibilities.
In response to the needs of its two markets—post-disaster reconstruction and workforce housing for the energy industry—Greenworld Restoration has developed a suite of innovative housing solutions, both permanent and convertible. Each home begins with one of two building blocks: a remarkably ductile, self-compacted concrete frame or a metal stick frame composed of sturdy, 18 gauge steel and non-flammable, water-proof composite board. “This, combined with a strong roofing structure is going to better withstand hurricane-force winds, water and fire,” Torres notes. “And it’s going to cost the same as a normal home.” Furthermore, Greenworld’s convertible home has expanded the concept of a temporary house into one that is not only as safe and reliable as its permanent counterpart, but also one that can be later recycled into a more permanent home. Built to better withstand other natural disasters and to offer sustainable options to traditionally unsustainable industries, Greenworld Restoration provides a solution for both the present and future.
Nevertheless, housing is but one aspect of Greenworld Restoration, which aims to serve communities as a whole. “We can’t just think about housing or water or agriculture,” Torres says. “We have to think holistically.” To that effect, the company has developed its Integrated Solution Architecture for Sustainable Communities, applying its twelve key pillars—including renewable energy, context-based education and tourism—to the unique needs of the areas they serve. In light of northern Haiti’s growing textile industry, for example, Greenworld Restoration plans to construct thousands of homes to support the country’s burgeoning workforce. By contrast, Torres and former President Vincente Fox, who serves on Greenworld Restoration’s Board of Directors, have been in discussion with Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe about developing an agricultural community better suited to the south of Haiti. The flexibility of the Integrated Solution Architecture plan therefore allows Greenworld Restoration to help diverse communities challenged by natural disaster and housing shortages on the path to recovery.
Above all, the capstone of the Greenworld philosophy is the idea that post-disaster and workforce housing is about more than building a roof over someone’s head. From affordable septic systems in underprivileged communities to greener options for the energy industry, Greenworld Restoration offers housing as a means of effecting economic and social change. In addition, the company has partnered with the Worldwide Maniac Foundation to return up to 30% of its profits to the communities it has provided with housing. "We want Greenworld Restoration to have a connection to the areas we serve,” Torres says, “because a house is not just a product—it’s a solution.”