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Houston Advanced Research Center

Sustainably designing beyond limits

Project Facts

Location The Woodlands, Texas
Owner Houston Advanced Research Center
Size 20,000 SF
Cost $7.5 million
Certifications LEED Platinum


Walter P Moore harmonized this non-profit research facility’s budget with visionary eco-design. The Houston Area Research Center (HARC) exceeded all sustainability goals, and even secured a grant for photovoltaic panels, furthering their drive for a zero-carbon future. This milestone development stands as HARC’s new headquarters and a testament to their mission of pioneering environmental solutions and shaping sustainability policies.

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About the project

This research hub is dedicated to delivering independent analysis on energy, air, and water issues, and now stands as a sustainable triumph in it’s own right. The visionary design for the new HARC headquarters was led by Walter P Moore, and delivered a building that echoed HARC’s environmental mission while modeling regionally-appropriate sustainable design for the Gulf Coast.

The heart of this project was to balance the financial constraints of a not-for-profit research institution while focusing on energy efficiency. Early integrated design sessions went deeper to look at the environmental impact of building materials, particularly embodied carbon.

The conventional approach for a building of this scale in the area would involve site-cast concrete perimeter bearing walls and interior steel framing. But a preliminary Whole Building Lifecycle Assessment (WBLCA) showed that this traditional method carried a significant carbon footprint, mostly due to concrete panels and foundations. 

The Walter P Moore team engineered an innovative alternative steel-framed scheme, reducing the embodied CO2 of the structural and enclosure systems by 20 percent. WBLCA was the guiding compass for the project, steering the design toward a zero-carbon vision. A 2018 grant to add extra photovoltaic panels to the roof delivered a surplus of renewable energy, exceeding the building’s demand. The excess energy could be fed back into the grid, chipping away at the emissions associated with building materials and bringing the zero-carbon goal within reach. HARC’s new headquarters stands not only as a symbol of environmental stewardship but as a testament to the power of visionary design in reshaping sustainable research facilities.

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2019 USGBC Texas Chapter: LEED Project of the Year

2019 ULI Houston - Development Distinction, Nonprofit

2018 HBJ Landmark Award Finalist

2018 AGC - Top Commercial Office Building Under $20M

2017 ENR Texas & Louisiana: Best Projects

AGC Houston Chapter - Gold Level APEX Award