HOUSTON, TX – The Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC) has officially received Zero Energy status from the International Living Future Institute. This makes the HARC headquarters in The Woodlands the first commercial building in Texas to have accomplished this feat. Today, 100% of HARC’s annual energy needs are met by local renewable energies. This is made possible through a $ 136,000 grant from the Green Mountain Energy Sun Club, which is helping to purchase and install additional solar panels, associated inverters and hardware on the roof of HARC’s LEED® Platinum building.
Zero energy is recognized worldwide as one of the highest goals for energy efficiency in the built environment. By checking the actual performance data by third parties, the International Living Future Institute confirms that the HARC building actually works as it claims and uses energy from the sun, wind or earth to meet the annual net energy demand. The HARC building can now also serve as a case study platform for projects to inform and accelerate other zero energy efforts around the world.
“HARC’s Living Lab creates an environment to continue our research program on sustainable policies and technologies, but it also enables us to serve as a case study for efficient design and operation,” said Dr. Mustapha Beydoun, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of HARC. “With the grant from the Green Mountain Energy Sun Club, we were able to significantly improve our existing renewable power generation on site and achieve this latest milestone.”
The HARC building and campus in The Woodlands are 50% more energy efficient compared to LEED® base goals and use several sustainable features in their design. The building’s footprint and impermeable paving are minimized, bio-whales are designed to retain and filter water on-site to reduce the impact on nearby waterways, and the site’s biodiversity is preserved through the protection and restoration of native vegetation. The building is also oriented to maximize daylight and reach the interiors of the building and the solar panels on the roof.
Other advanced sustainable strategies include an additional high-performance building envelope and rain cover that is 2.5 times better than a typical enclosure, and low flow fixtures to save water, while mechanical systems use a geothermal heat exchange system for optimal energy efficiency and indoor air quality . and thermal comfort.
“The Green Mountain Energy Sun Club is honored to be part of HARC’s journey to achieve its highly regarded zero energy status,” said Mark Parsons, vice president and general manager of Green Mountain Energy. “We are committed to making sustainability grants easier for nonprofits to adopt solar and other sustainability measures, and we hope this recognition will inspire other buildings across Texas to support renewable energy – one light switch at a time.”
HARC’s work in air quality research and management focuses on advancing the science of regional air quality monitoring and modeling, developing emission-reducing technologies, and communicating science and policy on climate change. HARC will serve as the technical advisor and lead researcher for the recently announced Houston Climate Action Plan, a project that brings together stakeholders from across the community to develop a variety of low-cost energy efficiency, renewable energy and transportation measures that reduce the community. broad greenhouse gas emissions in Houston and compliance with the goals of the Paris Agreement.
HARC is a non-profit research center that provides independent analysis of energy, air, and water issues to people seeking scientific answers. The research activities support the implementation of strategies and technologies to promote sustainability based on scientific principles. HARC is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization that is building a sustainable future where people thrive and nature thrive. For more information, contact HARC at (281) 364-6000 or visit www.HARCresearch.org. You can also connect via Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter. Like or follow @HARCresearch.
The Green Mountain Energy Sun Club is a not-for-profit organization committed to promoting sustainable communities. As a 501 (c) (3) organization, the Sun Club® invests in non-profit organizations and focuses on projects in the areas of renewable energies, energy efficiency, resource conservation and environmental protection. Since the program was founded in 2002, the Sun Club has donated $ 10 million to more than 122 nonprofit projects in Texas and the Northeast. To learn more about the Sun Club or to apply for a Sun Club scholarship, visit gmesunclub.org.
The International Living Future Institute (ILFI) is a hub for visionary programs. ILFI offers global strategies for lasting sustainability and works with local communities to develop well-founded and relevant solutions, including environmentally friendly building and infrastructure solutions on the scale of single room renovations to neighborhoods or entire cities. ILFI manages the Living Building Challenge, the strictest and most ambitious performance standard in the environment, as well as the Living Product Challenge and the Living Community Challenge. ILFI also offers transparency labels via JUST, Declare and Reveal. Zero Energy and Zero Carbon certification as well as Living Future accreditation are also available. ILFI is also home to Ecotone Publishing, a unique publishing house that tells the story of the pioneering thinkers and practitioners of the green building movement.