The Woodlands, TX, United States

Houston Advanced Research Center

www.harc.edu
The Woodlands, TX, United States

The Houston Advanced Research Center, commonly referred to as HARC, is a 501 not-for-profit organization based in The Woodlands, Texas dedicated to improving human and ecosystem well-being through the application of sustainability science and principles of sustainable development. HARC employs a staff of about 45 researchers and administrators. Revenues are projected to reach $20 million by 2008, primarily derived from projects supported by government agencies, foundations and corporations. Wikipedia.

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News Article | May 23, 2017
Site: co.newswire.com

HARC, the Houston Advanced Research Center, announces the opening of a new, high-performance headquarters building in The Woodlands. On track to achieve the first Platinum LEED-certified building in The Woodlands — the most environmentally stringent certification issued by the U.S Green Building Council — HARC’s green building, together with its mission to provide independent analysis on energy, air, and water issues, will continue to serve as a model for sustainability in Houston and beyond. “Our new headquarters demonstrates that we are putting sustainability practices into action,” said HARC President & Chief Executive Officer Lisa Gonzalez. “We hope that HARC’s green facility will serve as a model of how commercial buildings on the Gulf Coast can be designed and operated. HARC’s green building has a reduced environmental footprint, can be operated cost-effectively, and enhances employee health and well-being.” After moving into the new building in March, HARC celebrated the Ribbon Cutting and Building Dedication on Tuesday, May 16th. Local leaders and building partners in attendance at the event included: Christie Siedhoff (representing Texas State Senator Brandon Creighton), The Woodlands Township Board Director and Treasurer Dr. Ann Snyder, alongside J.J. Hollie and Cindy Alvarado of The Woodlands Area Chamber of Commerce, and Gil Staley of the Woodlands Economic Development Partnership. The HARC Board of Directors was represented by Board Chairman Todd Mitchell, Dr. Jim Lester, Bo Smith, Spiros Vassilakis, and Bruce Tough. Building and design partners from Gensler Architects, Brookstone Construction Managers, CMTA Consulting Engineers, Walter P. Moore, Vogt Engineering, and Applied Habitats were also there to mark the occasion. “There is nothing like this place and this campus. The facility embodies the idea of sustainability science, living with limited resources, and maximizing efficiency. I can’t wait to see how this building performs through time and how lessons learned can be translated to others,” said Todd Mitchell, Chairman of the HARC Board of Directors. “This building is not only a testimony to the legacy of my parents, Cynthia and George Mitchell, but also to the HARC staff and the important research that is carried out every day.” To embrace the site’s natural resources, research scientists on staff, as well as local ecologists, architects, and environmental engineers, began the project by integrating the best environmental and green building practices into HARC’s site plan and the building to minimize impact on the environment. Seventy percent of the 3.5-acre site — the most biodiverse areas of native vegetation — was protected and restored using carefully selected native and water smart species. In terms of the actual building, elements of the structure were purposefully exposed to allow for increased visibility into how the building works. “We planned the new building so that much of the often-hidden equipment is visible, allowing visitors to observe and learn how the structure functions,” said Dr. Mustapha Beydoun, Vice President & Chief Operating Officer of HARC. “As a research hub, HARC is a collaborative organization. We want to make this new building available for use as a compatible place for community partners to hold meetings and for visitors to learn about sustainability.” The key sustainable elements in HARC’s new building revolve around energy efficiency, water stewardship and materials reduction. “In starting the design process with HARC, it was important that we began with the end in mind,” said Rives Taylor, Regional Sustainability Leader and Firm-wide Design Resilience Director within Gensler’s Houston office, which designed the space. “We began by setting clear end goals with HARC’s leadership on the layout, programming and sustainability outcomes desired for their new building, which allowed us to work efficiently and cost effectively throughout the design, engineering and construction process to deliver a productive workspace within the greenest building in the greenest community.” For an interactive story map about the project from start to finish, please follow the link HERE. HARC’s new, high-performance headquarters building was funded through capital campaign donations from the Endowment for Regional Sustainability Science, Houston Endowment, and The Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation. HARC was founded in 1982 by George P. Mitchell and works as a nonprofit research hub providing independent analysis on energy, air, and water issues to people seeking scientific answers. HARC is focused on building a sustainable future that helps people thrive and nature flourish. Learn more at www.HARCresearch.org. Gensler is a global design firm grounded in the belief that great design optimizes business performance and human potential. Our 5,000 practitioners networked across 45 offices use global perspective and local presence to innovate at every scale. Whether we are refreshing a retailer’s brand, planning a new urban district or designing a super tall building, we strive to make the everyday places people occupy more inspiring, more resilient, and more impactful.


Lema C.,Houston Advanced Research Center | Lema C.,University of Texas at El Paso | Cunningham M.J.,Houston Advanced Research Center | Cunningham M.J.,Nanomics Biosciences Inc.
Toxicology Letters | Year: 2010

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are non-coding regulatory RNA molecules that bind target messenger RNAs (mRNA) and suppress their translation into proteins. When an organism is exposed to a toxic compound, cells respond by altering the pattern of gene expression, including miRNAs. Altered miRNA expression affects protein translation, which in turn alters cellular physiology causing adverse biological effects. Moreover, different types of cellular stress have been shown to affect miRNA expression as a mechanism of adaptation or tolerance to stress factors in order to survive. Besides an updated theoretical background concerning miRNAs biology, biogenesis, function, and roles in disease; this mini review provides an overview of miRNAs response to exogenous agents such as environmental stressors and toxic compounds. The implications of miRNAs in toxicogenomics as well as the new avenues of research of miRNAs in toxicology are discussed. © 2010 Elsevier Ireland Ltd.


Ellis J.,King's College London | Ellis J.,CERN | Nanopoulos D.V.,Texas A&M University | Nanopoulos D.V.,Houston Advanced Research Center | And 2 more authors.
Physical Review Letters | Year: 2013

We present a model for cosmological inflation based on a no-scale supergravity sector with an SU(2,1)/SU(2)×U(1) Kähler potential, a single modulus T, and an inflaton superfield Φ described by a Wess-Zumino model with superpotential parameters (μ, λ). When T is fixed, this model yields a scalar spectral index ns and a tensor-to-scalar ratio r that are compatible with the Planck measurements for values of λ=μ/3MP. For the specific choice λ=μ/3M P, the model is a no-scale supergravity realization of the R+R2 Starobinsky model. © 2013 American Physical Society.


Olaguer E.P.,Houston Advanced Research Center
Atmospheric Environment | Year: 2011

A new mathematical optimization method is presented for reconstructing pollution plume concentrations from tomographic remote sensing measurements on neighborhood scales (about 1 km × 1 km) using Differential Optical Absorption Spectroscopy (DOAS). The new method, called CAT-4Dvar, combines Computer Aided Tomography (CAT) and 4D variational (4Dvar) data assimilation. The objective of the method is to produce accurate reconstructions compared to the Algebraic Reconstruction Technique (ART) and other non-variational methods with only a small number of DOAS telescopes. A forward and adjoint 3D grid dispersion model was developed based on advection and diffusion solvers commonly used in air quality modeling. The adjoint model optimizes the model emissions and horizontal diffusion coefficient based on the difference between tomographic DOAS observations and ray path-integrated concentrations predicted by the forward model. It also updates the corresponding error covariances based on the Hessian of the cost function. An enhanced reconstruction is obtained from the forward model with optimized parameter values. In a synthetic experiment involving two hypothetical DOAS instruments, the CAT-4Dvar method yielded excellent results compared to ART, reducing the overall nearness index from 57% to 11%. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.


Xu Z.,Houston Advanced Research Center | Harriss R.,Houston Advanced Research Center
Urban Studies | Year: 2010

Rank-size distribution has been an important tool in characterising and analysing city size distributions across spatial and temporal scales. Zipf's law in city rank-size distribution has been observed in many analyses and is considered an important empirical regularity describing the organisation of cities. Based on analyses of the evolution of cities in Texas from 1850 to 2000, this paper documents spatial and temporal autocorrelation in city population growth rates. A modelling strategy has been developed that accounts for the spatial and temporal autocorrelated growth in Texas cities and is effective in reconstructing the empirical rank-size distribution. This study shows that it is necessary to take into account the interdependence among cities in simulating the city size distribution. © 2010 Urban Studies Journal Limited.


Buzcu Guven B.,Houston Advanced Research Center | Olaguer E.P.,Houston Advanced Research Center
Atmospheric Environment | Year: 2011

An online data repository known as the Air Research Information Infrastructure (ARII) was used to discriminate large industrial sources of formaldehyde (HCHO) from mobile and secondary formaldehyde sources in Houston. Analysis of continuous online measurements at one urban and two industrial sites obtained during the summer of 2006 enabled us to isolate and evaluate major source factors associated with formaldehyde. The contribution of industrial sources to total atmospheric formaldehyde at the urban Houston site is estimated to be 17%, compared to 23% for mobile sources, 36% secondary formation, and 24% biogenic sources. The potential industrial sources include flares from petrochemical plants and refineries in the Port of Houston. The relative contribution of industrial source factors to ambient HCHO at the urban site increased to about 66% on some mornings, coinciding with the HCHO peak concentration. Secondary formation of HCHO during the day and night resulted from reactions of industrial olefins and other VOCs with OH or ozone. Some peak HCHO concentrations can also be linked to emission events of other VOCs, while a significant portion remains unexplained by the reported events. It is likely, based on the results from the SHARP campaign and our analysis, that some episodic emission events releasing primary HCHO are unreported to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.


Olaguer E.P.,Houston Advanced Research Center
Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres | Year: 2013

During the 2006 Second Texas Air Quality Study (TexAQS II) field study, ambient mixing ratios of formaldehyde (HCHO) up to 52 ppbv were observed at Lynchburg Ferry in the Houston Ship Channel on the morning of 27 September 2006. These elevated mixing ratios coincided with a flare event during a sequential planned shutdown of a petrochemical facility ~8 km from the monitoring site. An adjoint version of the Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC) neighborhood air quality model was used to perform 4-D variational inverse modeling of industrial emissions of HCHO and other ozone precursors based on Lynchburg Ferry observations. The simulation employed a horizontal domain size and grid resolution of 8 km × 8 km and 400 m, and was conducted for a 1.5 h period (8-9:30 A.M.) during which the highest HCHO concentrations were recorded. The event emissions of ethene and propene computed by the inverse model are consistent with the largest estimated emissions for the facility in question derived from the Solar Occultation Flux technique during TexAQS II. Moreover, the computed peak flare emissions of HCHO during the shutdown event were around 282 kg/h, which is less than but comparable in magnitude to the largest area-wide total (primary plus secondary) formaldehyde flux from the Houston Ship Channel measured by Differential Optical Absorption Spectroscopy during TexAQS II. The estimated flare event emissions of primary formaldehyde are roughly 50 times larger than HCHO emissions from flares used in routine operations, as inferred from remote sensing and/or real-time in situ measurements during the 2009 SHARP campaign. Key PointsInverse modeling of HCHO and olefins was performedInferred emissions compare well with remote sensing measurementsPrimary HCHO is significant ©2013. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.


Chen J.,Houston Advanced Research Center
SPE Reservoir Evaluation and Engineering | Year: 2010

A new mixing rule is described for the prediction of the self dif-fusivities of gas- and liquid-hydrocarbon molecules in methane/oil mixtures. Unlike macroscopic fluid properties, such as density and viscosity, molecular self diffusivity is a microscopic parameter associated with individual molecular species. Thus, a self diffusivity of a binary mixture of gas and oil is a misnomer. Instead, the self diffusivity of each species in the binary system is affected by the presence of the other species. For that reason, the commonly used log-mean based mixing rule that applies to macroscopic properties of the mixtures is unsuitable for self diffusivity when the reference states are pure Components 1 and 2. We found that it is necessary to introduce two new reference states: One is the infinite dilution of Component 1 in Component 2; the other is the infinite dilution of Component 2 in Component 1. The component can be a single-molecule species or a mixture, as long as its self diffusivity or self diffusivity distr bution can be measured. Using this approach, the self diffusivity of each component in the mixture follows the log-mean based mixing rule. This new mixing rule is verified with literature data of methane/hexane, ethane/hexane, methane/octane, ethane/octane, methane/decane, and ethane/decane mixtures over a wide range of temperatures, pressures, and solution-gas concentrations. The new mixing rule is applied, and a detailed procedure is developed, to determine the gas/oil ratio (GOR) and the live-oil viscosity for in-situ volatile oils from nuclear-magnetic-resonance (NMR) log data. First, the self diffusivities and proton fraction of the methane and oil mixture are determined by fitting the NMR-measured diffusivity distribution with a bimodal distribution. Then, the self diffusivities for the four reference states are calculated using the mixing rule. Finally, the GOR is calculated from the proton ratio, while the live-oil viscosity is calculated from the self diffusivity of pure oil and the GOR. The calculated GOR and oil viscosities are compared to the pressure/volume/temerature (PVT) measurement of the oil sample taken from downhole and show good agreement. GOR and oil viscosities from this new technique can be used for optimizing testing and sampling programs, for reservoir-simulation studies, and for the design of surface production facilities. © 2010 Society of Petroleum Engineers.


Olaguer E.P.,Houston Advanced Research Center
Journal of the Air and Waste Management Association | Year: 2012

Increased drilling in urban areas overlying shale formations and its potential impact on human health through decreased air quality make it important to estimate the contribution of oil and gas activities to photochemical smog. Flares and compressor engines used in natural gas operations, for example, are large sources not only of NOx but also of formaldehyde, a hazardous air pollutant and powerful ozone precursor. We used a neighborhood scale (200 m horizontal resolution) three-dimensional (3D) air dispersion model with an appropriate chemical mechanism to simulate ozone formation in the vicinity of a hypothetical natural gas processing facility, based on accepted estimates of both regular and nonroutine emissions. The model predicts that, under average midday conditions in June, regular emissions mostly associated with compressor engines may increase ambient ozone in the Barnett Shale by more than 3 ppb beginning at about 2 km downwind of the facility, assuming there are no other major sources of ozone precursors. Flare volumes of 100,000 cubic meters per hour of natural gas over a period of 2 hr can also add over 3 ppb to peak 1-hr ozone somewhat further (>8 km) downwind, once dilution overcomes ozone titration and inhibition by large flare emissions of NOx. The additional peak ozone from the hypothetical flare can briefly exceed 10 ppb about 16 km downwind. The enhancements of ambient ozone predicted by the model are significant, given that ozone control strategy widths are of the order of a few parts per billion. Degrading the horizontal resolution of the model to 1 km spuriously enhances the simulated ozone increases by reducing the effectiveness of ozone inhibition and titration due to artificial plume dilution. Implications: Major metropolitan areas in or near shale formations will be hard pressed to demonstrate future attainment of the federal ozone standard, unless significant controls are placed on emissions from increased oil and gas exploration and production. The results presented here show the importance of improving the temporal and spatial resolution of both emission inventories and air quality models used in ozone attainment demonstrations for areas with significant oil and gas activities. Supplemental Materials: Supplemental materials are available for this article. Go to the publisher's online edition of the Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association for further technical details on the HARC model chemical mechanism and its performance evaluation. © 2012 Copyright 2012 A&WMA.


Olaguer E.P.,Houston Advanced Research Center
Journal of the Air and Waste Management Association | Year: 2012

Large petrochemical flares, common in the Houston Ship Channel (the Ship Channel) and other industrialized areas in the Gulf of Mexico region, emit hundreds to thousands of pounds per hour of highly reactive volatile organic compounds (HRVOCs). We employed fine horizontal resolution (200 m × 200 m) in a three-dimensional (3D) Eulerian chemical transport model to simulate two historical Ship Channel flares. The model reasonably reproduced the observed ozone rise at the nearest monitoring stations downwind of the flares. The larger of the two flares had an olefin emission rate exceeding 1400 lb/hr. In this case, the model simulated a rate of increase in peak ozone greater than 40 ppb/hr over a 12 km × 12 km horizontal domain without any unusual meteorological conditions. In this larger flare, formaldehyde emissions typically neglected in official inventories enhanced peak ozone by as much as 16 ppb and contributed over 10 ppb to ambient formaldehyde up to ~8 km downwind of the flare. The intense horizontal gradients in large flare plumes cannot be simulated by coarse models typically used to demonstrate ozone attainment. Moreover, even the relatively dense monitoring network in the Ship Channel may not be able to detect many transient high ozone events (THOEs) caused by industrial flare emissions in the absence of stagnant air recirculation or stalled sea breeze fronts, even though such conditions are unnecessary for the occurrence of THOEs. Implications: Flare minimization may be an important strategy to attain the U.S. federal ozone standard in industrialized areas, and to avoid inordinate exposure to formaldehyde in neighborhoods surrounding petrochemical facilities. Moreover, air quality monitoring networks, emission inventories, and chemical transport models with higher spatial and temporal resolution and more refined speciation of HRVOCs are needed to better account for the near-source air quality impacts of large olefin flares. © 2012 Copyright 2012 A&WMA.

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