In the fall of 2019, HARC completed the Forests and Floods project funded by the Texas A&M Forest Service. The goal was to compile and develop data to investigate the role that trees, forest, and canopy cover play in flood mitigation. 2018 Coastal Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) data, flown by Fugro Geospatial, Inc. was a principle data source to derive key datasets.
The Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC) in The Woodlands, Texas has been awarded funding from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to assist public and private entities considering Combined Heat and Power (CHP).
HARC launched the Flaring Issues, Solutions and Technologies (FIST) 2019 project in late 2018 with the objective of evaluating the current state of technologies addressing flaring of natural gas at wells sites through a series of stakeholder workshops across the U.S.
Recent severe weather events have caused considerable damage to the Houston region. After a major natural disaster there is always a push to quickly rebuild infrastructure and communities, so we can get back to “normal.” After three severe weather events in three successive years, there is now considerable debate about what “normal,” means in this region.
The City of Houston recently announced its Climate Action Plan that will bring together stakeholders from across the community to develop a variety of cost-effective energy efficiency, renewable energy and transportation measures that will reduce community-wide greenhouse gas emissions and uphold the goa
Hurricane Harvey brought record rainfall to the Houston-Galveston region and the Texas coast. In addition to the social and economic impacts, flood events raise short- and long-term environmental and public health concerns such as bacteria, oil, gasoline and chemicals in floodwaters, toxics associated with Superfund sites, and air quality.
As a result of beginning with the end in mind, HARC's headquarters is on track to achieving a Platinum Level Leaders in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification - making it the first LEED Platinum green building in The Woodlands, Texas. Platinum is the most environmentally stringent LEED certification issued by the U.S Green Building Council.
The TX-PACE Energy and Emissions Tracker was created in partnership with the Texas PACE Authority, the state-wide administrator of TX-PACE. This interactive tool allows viewers to see how TX-PACE projects are reducing energy and water consumption, lowering emissions, and providing significant economic benefits. The status of TX-PACE can be reviewed for each region or at the state-wide level.
In the Texas Energy-Water Nexus Story Map, the relationship between our most coveted natural resource (water) and the driving force behind modern global culture (energy) is explored within the context of the driest drought year in Texas history.
Freshwater wetlands in the Houston-Galveston region provide many ecosystem services. Freshwater wetlands capture rainfall and reduce surface runoff to diminish flooding, store nutrients, filter pollutants, and provide valuable habitat for many species of wildlife. These important wetland habitats are being lost at an increasing rate in the Lower Galveston Bay Watershed.
The stormwater connection from rain to recreation is an interactive web application designed to describe how a variety of land uses interact with stormwater (rain water plus surface water runoff) in and near the Clear Creek and Armand Bayou watersheds. Each stormwater pathway represents unique opportunities for the instillation of stormwater management practices.
For many years governments around the globe have worked to regulate pollution generated through engine emissions, resulting in the need for better emissions testing worldwide. Exhaust emissions testing identifies the substances that form in an engine during combustion.
HARC has partnered with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and the US Business Council for Sustainable Development to implement a private led initiative to drive investment in energy efficiency in the Houston market.
As the oil and gas industry continually seeks ways to cut costs and improve environmental performance, HARC’s Environmentally Friendly Drilling Systems Program is studying the feasibility of replacing diesel with natural gas as a fuel source for modern drilling rigs as part of the “Powered by Natural Gas” research initiative.
Much work has been done to describe and evaluate the efficacy of clean energy policy. Much less attention has been paid to the factors that drive the adoption and diffusion of these policies across the United States, at both the state and local government level. A better understanding of this process can help with policy planning and policy making.
Partnering with Bruce Race, Director of the Center for Sustainability and Resilience (CeSAR) at the University of Houston, HARC recently co-hosted Advanced Waste Management: Environmental and Economic Benefits. This public symposium was held as news broke that Houston would be excluding glassware from its list of green bin recyclables. The announcement marks a retreat from the city’s One Bin for All strategy, which was funded in 2013 through a $1 million grant from the Bloomberg Foundation.
In 2015 HARC completed a project that identified the primary sources of fine particulate matter or PM2.5 pollutants in Harris County as well as the control measures that can be used to reduce them. Each control measure has a unique efficiency and cost.
The development of the Environmentally Friendly Drilling Systems (EFD) Scorecard has been ongoing since 2008. The first 3 ½ years focused on reaching a consensus for the various attributes through a series of workshops, meetings and paper exercises. For the past year the scorecard has been undergoing various tests.
Ecosystem services are the benefits that people and businesses receive from a functioning ecosystem. Examples of ecosystem services include adequate supplies of water for domestic and industrial uses; filtration of particulates from air and impurities from rainwater by forests; habitat for birds and wildlife which provide the basis for ecotourism; and wetlands, bayous and water bodies that regulate stormwater and mitigate flooding.
HARC has once again partnered with the Galveston Bay Foundation to provide citizens with the 2018 Galveston Bay Report Card, released August 15. The Report Card features critical information on the health of Galveston Bay, one of the most important and productive bays in the country.
The oil and gas industry is adopting technologies for cleaner generators and the application of emission controls on diesel engines. Members of the industry are also switching from diesel engines to engines that operate on cleaner natural gas.
HARC is working with a large regional electrical utility to evaluate cost effective options for improving the energy efficiency of small commercial buildings (less than 50,000 square feet). More than 50% of the commercial building stock in the US is in this size range.
A set of waste pits, approximately 14 acres in size, was built in the mid-1960s for disposal of paper mill wastes along the San Jacinto River. The waste pits were located north of Interstate-10, west of the main river channel of the San Jacinto River, and east of the City of Houston between two then unincorporated areas now known as Channelview and Highlands.
HARC's Dr. Eduardo (Jay) Olaguer of HARC developed a microscale 3D Eulerian air quality model for the interpretation of real-time monitoring data collected during the Benzene and other Toxics Exposure (BEE-TEX) field study.
The Benzene and other Toxics Exposure (BEE‐TEX) Study is a field study of exposure to and source attribution of the air toxics: benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene and xylenes (BTEX), as well as other hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) such as formaldehyde and 1,3-butadiene.
HARC has worked with the City of Houston on a wide range of solar energy projects. Through its partnership with the City of Houston, HARC helped the City demonstrate leadership in clean energy and environmental performance.
HARC deployed a mobile laboratory equipped with a Geographical Positioning System (GPS) and a Proton Transfer Reaction-Mass Spectrometer (PTR-MS) to perform real time measurements of ambient concentrations of toxic volatile organic compounds in the vicinity of oil and gas sites located on a large private property in the Eagle Ford Shale of South Texas.
HARC is developing a detailed particulate matter (PM) 2.5 emissions inventory for Harris County, Texas. PM is a type pollution composed of a complex mixture of extremely small particles. The size of particles is linked to their potential for causing health-related problems. PM 2.5 refers to fine particles that pose considerable health risks for respiratory and cardiovascular illness.
HARC works with the City of Houston on a wide range of energy efficiency projects. Through its partnership with the City of Houston, HARC works with commercial building managers, residential builders, and homeowners to demonstrate leadership in energy efficiency and environmental performance.
HARC is working with the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) to identify inexpensive methane sensors that can be deployed in a variety of oil and gas operations to rapidly identify and facilitate repair of natural gas leaks. This will allow for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in an industry that is extremely important to Texas, the U.S.
HARC is working to help local communities improve air quality and quality of life. HARC is partnering with the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) to train community members living near petrochemical facilities to take measurements of air toxics using monitoring tools that are typically used by environmental regulatory enforcement agencies.
With financial support from the Environmental Defense Fund, Dr. Eduardo (Jay) Olaguer used the HARC microscale air quality model to assess the ozone impacts of oil and gas production facilities in the Eagle Ford Shale.
HARC is working to advance research in solar panel efficiency in marine environments. When sunlight travels through humid, salty air in sunny areas like the Texas Gulf Coast, the sunlight becomes dispersed and is less efficient at generating electricity.
Over the past two decades safety has become a core value within most sectors of the oil and gas industry. With increased understanding that, in many cases, safety and the environment go hand in hand, environmental training courses are now being developed just as safety programs were in the past.
In 2013, the EFD team initiated a project to investigate the use of natural gas as a primary source for equipment used in drilling and fracturing operations in the Marcellus/Utica area. The first phase of the effort will be a conceptual study to document fuel requirements, fuel sources and how fuel usage during field development may evolve.
HARC is developing a research program to study the efficacy of energy management programs in Texas school districts. The energy expenditure for a Texas school district is typically the second largest single budget line item after salaries.
HARC is working with the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board to engage stakeholders in developing a Watershed Protection Plan (WPP). A WPP is a locally developed, voluntary watershed management plan that helps to restore and protect water quality. The WPP process engages stakeholders in a collaborative and participatory approach in watershed planning.
As the city efficiency leaders retrofit public buildings, create innovative financing, benchmark and collect energy data, implement building codes, and initiate other new programs, HARC, SECO, and SPEER are producing a series of case studies documenting their best practices.
In partnership with the State Energy Conservation Office (SECO), HARC is launching the Department of Energy’s State Energy Program Texas Industrial Energy Efficiency and Combined Heat and Power (CHP) grant. There is tremendous opportunity to increase the energy efficiency of Texas’ industry, as well as install a significant amount of CHP.
The majority of tributaries flowing into the western side of Galveston Bay in Harris County do not meet water quality standards and are classified as impaired. Harris County is home to a population of nearly four million people, estimated to double in size by the year 2030.
Hydraulic fracturing, directional drilling and other advanced technologies have enabled production of domestic oil and gas from shale and tight rock throughout North America. This new age of petroleum brings with it new challenges, to protect the environment and engage communities while operating in challenging economic circumstances.
The purpose of this project was to conduct data collection, analysis and modeling for a study of the storm surge and wave impacts on land in Harris County around Galveston Bay due to Hurricane Ike in 2008 and effective ways to use breakwater islands to mitigate the effects.