safe searching

New Houston website spotlights which local businesses practice COVID-19 protocols

A new site helps Houstonians navigate businesses and their COVID-19 safety protocols. Anvil Bar & Refuge/Facebook

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's dismissal of the mask mandate and reopening of the state on March 10 has left some locals liberated — and some worried about safely venturing out. Those in the latter column can now rely on a new local website to help navigate the new no-mask-required environs.

Space City Safe, a crowd-sourced tool, shares information about COVID protocols at local Houston businesses. Users can hop on and search a business by type, name, or address and learn of its COVID-19 safety measures — if any. Site visitors can also add info on a business, including type of industry, mask and social distancing requirements, and more.

"I was inspired by the Houston blog It's Not Hou It's Me," Chris Haseler, the site's founder, tells CultureMap. (The blog is co-founded by Natalie Harms, editor of InnovationMap.) "They posted a cool crowdsourced Google spreadsheet collecting information about local businesses. I wanted to build that concept into a sustainable tool that people could use easily over the next few months to stay safe."

Haseler reports that user response has been "overwhelmingly positive" thus far, with users thanking him especially for spotlighting restaurants where they can "safely" dine. "Most users are appreciative of what I'm trying to accomplish here and willing to share their experiences at different businesses," he adds.

"A number of business owners have also been thankful for a way to share their COVID safety policies with potential customers."

The site currently boasts more than 500 and shows no signs of slowing. Haseler, a Heights-area engineer, says he'll continue to mask up when out and about. "I'll continue to do so until our scientists and doctors at the CDC say it's safe to do otherwise — and with vaccines becoming more readily available, hopefully that is soon."

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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Building Houston

 
 

Business and government leaders in the Houston area hope the region can become a hub for CCS activity. Photo via Getty Images

Three big businesses — Air Liquide, BASF, and Shell — have added their firepower to the effort to promote large-scale carbon capture and storage for the Houston area’s industrial ecosystem.

These companies join 11 others that in 2021 threw their support behind the initiative. Participants are evaluating how to use safe carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology at Houston-area facilities that provide energy, power generation, and advanced manufacturing for plastics, motor fuels, and packaging.

Other companies backing the CCS project are Calpine, Chevron, Dow, ExxonMobil, INEOS, Linde, LyondellBasell, Marathon Petroleum, NRG Energy, Phillips 66, and Valero.

Business and government leaders in the Houston area hope the region can become a hub for CCS activity.

“Large-scale carbon capture and storage in the Houston region will be a cornerstone for the world’s energy transition, and these companies’ efforts are crucial toward advancing CCS development to achieve broad scale commercial impact,” Charles McConnell, director of University of Houston’s Center for Carbon Management in Energy, says in a news release.

McConnell and others say CCS could help Houston and the rest of the U.S. net-zero goals while generating new jobs and protecting current jobs.

CCS involves capturing carbon dioxide from industrial activities that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere and then injecting it into deep underground geologic formations for secure and permanent storage. Carbon dioxide from industrial users in the Houston area could be stored in nearby onshore and offshore storage sites.

An analysis of U.S Department of Energy estimates shows the storage capacity along the Gulf Coast is large enough to store about 500 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide, which is equivalent to more than 130 years’ worth of industrial and power generation emissions in the United States, based on 2018 data.

“Carbon capture and storage is not a single technology, but rather a series of technologies and scientific breakthroughs that work in concert to achieve a profound outcome, one that will play a significant role in the future of energy and our planet,” says Gretchen Watkins, U.S. president of Shell. “In that spirit, it’s fitting this consortium combines CCS blueprints and ambitions to crystalize Houston’s reputation as the energy capital of the world while contributing to local and U.S. plans to help achieve net-zero emissions.”

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