The Houston Advanced Research Center, known as HARC, is a nonprofit research hub. It concentrates on sustainable development with an emphasis on applied research on sustainability issues providing independent analysis on energy, air, and water issues to people seeking scientific answers and to operate as a research hub finding solutions for a sustainable future.
Aligning with HARC’s sustainable mission, the two-story, 20,000 square foot office building was designed to reduce energy consumption by approximately 70% and achieved LEED Platinum certification. To reach this goal, the project was designed to be extremely energy efficient with minimal water consumption.
The building’s high performance design features include a budget conscious thermally-vented rain screen, strategically placed exterior windows to allow introduction of natural light while minimizing the impact on the heating and cooling system, geothermal heating and cooling systems and an all LED lighting system. A high performance geothermal heat pump system provides air conditioning for the building. Besides being energy efficient, the geothermal system also reduces the maintenance cost by eliminating exterior HVAC equipment.
The resulting facility exceeded HARC’s expectations. The building's energy model suggested that the facility would use 50% less energy than a standard building, with an actual EUI of 18 ktbu/sf-yr. Actual operations have matched this model. The result is a building that is operating at Zero Energy status.