Non-profit

Houston Advanced Research Center

Location:

THE WOODLANDS, TX

Tax ID:

76-0038315

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Budget (2016):

Revenue: $5,056,392
Expenses: $5,873,704
Assets: $7,601,866

Formation:

1982

Founder:

George P. Mitchell

Board Chair:

J. Todd Mitchell

President & CEO:

Lisa Gonzalez

The Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC) was founded by natural gas extraction pioneer George P. Mitchell in 1982.[1] Mitchell, an engineer by training, founded the center to focus on magnet-energy research that would dovetail with work at a superconductor in North Texas. (The superconductor was never completed.)[2] The Center was formed in partnership with Rice University, the University of Houston, Texas A&M and the University of Texas at Austin with hopes of making the area a high-tech hub like Silicon Valley.[3]

In 2001, HARC revamped its mission to focus on research into air quality, water quality, and non-fossil-fuel energy. The center was originally known as the Houston Area Research Center. The name was changed in 1990.

Programs

Energy

The center’s energy program accounts for the lion’s share of the group’s work, $3.5 million out of $5.2 million in program service expenses in 2015.[4] The center researches and works on technologies around solar energy, low-impact oil and gas exploration, and combined heat and power, a type of technology based on-site at a building to save the energy used in distribution over the electric grid. The center has worked on solar demonstration projects including a solar array at the George R. Brown Convention Center,[5] as well as new technology using geothermal energy to extract resources from abandoned oil wells[6] and assessments of a program to weatherize homes carried out by the city of Houston with federal money.

Air

The center’s air program includes research into air quality, especially around the Gulf Coast’s refineries, and advocacy of more precise tools to measure greenhouse gas emissions. For example, the center partnered with the oil and gas company EnCana on a project using infrared cameras to locate methane leaks on pipelines.[7]

Water

The center releases an annual report card on the health of Galveston Bay, conducts research into non-native species such as aquarium fish, and works with government agencies on long-term plans to protect water quality. The Center in 2004 released a list of invasive species that could alter the ecosystem in Galveston Bay.[8]

The Center was critical of water management rules released in 2011 by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, saying that they did not take into account ecological needs.[9]

Funding

Houston Advanced Research Center receives significant government funding. The Center reported $3 million in government research grants in 2016, down from $5.1 million in 2015.[10]

The Center received $16.8 million in federal contracts and awards from fiscal year 2008 through fiscal year 2017.[11]

The center reported revenues of $7.2 million in 2015.[12]

The Center’s funding declined 40 percent between 2010 and 2011. The Center reported $15.2 million in contributions and grants in 2010. The following year the Center reported $8.7 million in such gifts.[13]

People

Oil-and-gas billionaire and philanthropist George Mitchell founded the Houston Advanced Research Center in 1982. Mitchell was known as “the father of fracking”[14] for the advances he spearheaded in getting gas out of shale through the use of high-pressure water and other fluids. Mitchell developed a 20,000-acre master-planned community north of Houston called The Woodlands[15] that “redefined the American suburb,” according to an opinion column in the Houston Chronicle.[16] Mitchell died in 2013.

Mitchell’s son, Todd, served as the Center’s chairman of the board during a leadership change in 2001. Center President John Vasselli resigned abruptly following a period in which the center had struggled to define its mission, according to the Houston Chronicle.[17]

Jim Lester, a board member, served as president of the Center from 2012 to 2016.[18]

Lisa Gonzalez was appointed president in 2016. Gonzalez has conducted research on invasive plants and animals, freshwater inflows, and the health of the Galveston Bay.[19]

Article Censorship Controversy

In 2011, Rice University oceanography professor John Anderson complained that a report on the Galveston Bay he had produced had been censored by state officials, with passages on sea level rise and the impact of humans on wetlands deleted.[20] The report was funded by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, which contracted with the Houston Advanced Research Center to produce it. Two officials with the center, vice-president Jim Lester and co-editor Lisa Gonzalez, were also critical of the deletions and said they did not want their names on the edited version.[21]

The report was published in December 2011,[22] including a chapter by Anderson on the physical form of the Bay and the role of sea level rise.[23] It appears that most of the deletions that Anderson questioned remained in place, though the article does include a data point about sea level rise in the Gulf of Mexico which Anderson had said state officials had deleted.

The two officials with the Houston Advanced Research Center, Lester and Gonzalez, are listed as editors on the published report.

Associated Groups

The Houston Advanced Research Center is associated with the GeoTechnology Research Institute (GTRI), a state entity housed in the center that conducts geoscience research.[24]

The Houston Technology Center, a business incubator, has an office within the Houston Advanced Research Center.[25]

The Endowment for Regional Sustainability Science exists to support the Research Center, and in 2016 awarded $3.3 million to the Center.[26] In 2015, the endowment provided $1.8 million;[27] in 2014, $2.1 million.[28]

References

  1. “About Us.” Houston Advanced Research Center. Accessed December 5, 2017. http://www.harcresearch.org/about/75 ^
  2. Ackerman, Todd. “Houston Advanced Research Center President Resigns.” May 12, 2001. Accessed December 5, 2017. http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/Houston-Advanced-Research-Center-president-resigns-2040301.php ^
  3. Ackerman, Todd. “Houston Advanced Research Center President Resigns.” May 12, 2001. Accessed December 5, 2017. http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/Houston-Advanced-Research-Center-president-resigns-2040301.php ^
  4. Houston Advanced Research Center. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). 2015. Part III. ^
  5. Galvez, Melissa. “Solar Panels at the George R Brown Convention Center.” Houston Public Media. June 22, 2009. Accessed December 6, 2017. https://www.houstonpublicmedia.org/articles/news/newslab/2009/06/22/15785/solar-panels-at-the-george-r-brown-convention-center/ ^
  6. Howard, Brian Clark. “The Controversial Plan for Drawing Clean Power from Old Oil Wells.” The Atlantic. Oct. 14, 2011. Accessed December 6, 2017. https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/10/the-controversial-plan-for-drawing-clean-power-from-old-oil-wells/245039/ ^
  7. Lustgarten, Abrahm. “Underused Drilling Practices Could Avoid Pollution.” ProPublica. December 14, 2009. Accessed December 6, 2017. https://www.propublica.org/article/underused-drilling-practices-could-avoid-pollution-1214 ^
  8. Cappiello, Dina. “Foreign Species Threaten Galveston Ecosystem.” Houston Chronicle. May 7, 2004. Accessed December 6, 2017. http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/Foreign-species-threaten-Galveston-ecosystem-1573235.php ^
  9. Tresaugue, Matthew. “Health of Galveston Bay in Jeopardy.” Houston Chronicle. November 13, 2011. Accessed December 6, 2017. http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/Health-of-Galveston-Bay-in-jeopardy-2266036.php ^
  10. Houston Advanced Research Center Consolidated Financial Statements and Single Audit Reports for the year ended December 31, 2016. Accessed December 5, 2017. http://www.harcresearch.org/sites/default/files/financials/2016_HARC_FS.pdf ^
  11. Data accessed December 6, 2017 on USASpending.gov. ^
  12. Houston Advanced Research Center, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990), 2015, Part I. ^
  13. Houston Advanced Research Center, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990), 2011, Part I. ^
  14. “The Father of Fracking.” The Economist. August 3, 2013. Accessed December 5, 2017. https://www.economist.com/news/business/21582482-few-businesspeople-have-done-much-change-world-george-mitchell-father ^
  15. “History of The Woodlands.” The Houston Chronicle. July 30, 2013. Accessed December 5, 2017. http://www.chron.com/neighborhood/woodlands/news/article/History-of-The-Woodlands-4696126.php ^
  16. “George P. Mitchell: Houstonian of the Century.” The Houston Chronicle. July 31, 2013. Accessed December 5, 2017. http://www.chron.com/opinion/editorials/article/George-P-Mitchell-Houstonian-of-the-century-4696483.php ^
  17. Ackerman, Todd. “Houston Advanced Research Center President Resigns.” Houston Chronicle.  May 12, 2001. Accessed December 5, 2017. http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/Houston-Advanced-Research-Center-president-resigns-2040301.php ^
  18. “HARC Board Appoints New President.” Houston Advanced Research Center. June 29, 2016. Accessed December 5, 2017. http://www.harcresearch.org/feature/HARC_Board_Appoints_New_President ^
  19. “HARC Board Appoints New President.” Houston Advanced Research Center. June 29, 2016. Accessed December 5, 2017. http://www.harcresearch.org/feature/HARC_Board_Appoints_New_President ^
  20. Rice, Harvey. “Professor Says State Agency Censored Article.” Houston Chronicle. October 10, 2011. Accessed December 5, 2017. http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/Professor-says-state-agency-censored-article-2212118.php ^
  21. Ibid. ^
  22. “The State of the Bay.” Galveston Bay Estuary Program. December 2011. Accessed December 5, 2017. http://galvbaydata.org/www.galvbaydata.org/StateoftheBay/tabid/1846/Default.html ^
  23. Anderson, John B. “Chapter 5 – State of the Bay.” Galveston Bay Estuary Program. December 2011. Accessed December 5, 2017.

    http://galvbaydata.org/www.galvbaydata.org/Portals/2/StateOfTheBay/2011/Chapters/Chapter%205%20-%20Physical%20Form%20and%20Processes.pdf ^

  24. “About Us: Doing Business with HARC.” Houston Advanced Research Center. Accessed December 5, 2017. http://www.harcresearch.org/about/doing_business_with_HARC ^
  25. “Launch of HTC North in Partnership with HARC Reinforces Focus on Clean, Sustainable Technologies, Job Creation.” Houston Technology Center. September 16, 2015. Accessed December 5, 2017. https://www.houstontech.org/latest_news/launch-htc-north-partnership-harc-reinforces-focus-clean-sustainable-technologies-job-creation/

    “HTC North Has New Green Campus.” Houston Technology Center. June 7, 2017. Accessed December 5, 2017. https://www.houstontech.org/latest_news/htc-north-new-green-campus/ ^

  26. Endowment for Regional Sustainability Science, Return of Private Foundation (Form 990-PF), 2016, Part XV. Accessed December 5, 2017. http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2016/202/028/2016-202028290-0d865459-F.pdf ^
  27. Endowment for Regional Sustainability Science, Return of Private Foundation (Form 990-PF), 2015, Part XV. Accessed December 5, 2017. http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2015/202/028/2015-202028290-0c8910bc-F.pdf ^
  28. Endowment for Regional Sustainability Science, Return of Private Foundation (Form 990-PF), 2014, Part XV. Accessed December 5, 2017. http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2014/202/028/2014-202028290-0bb96ec5-F.pdf ^
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: July 1, 1983

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2016 Dec Form 990 $5,056,392 $5,873,704 $7,601,866 $4,080,450 N $5,110,468 $8,690 $63 $339,104
    2015 Dec Form 990 $7,201,058 $7,330,176 $6,372,104 $2,033,376 N $7,182,768 $17,965 $82 $377,245 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $10,747,329 $7,863,271 $7,618,817 $3,150,971 N $10,706,877 $44,739 $66 $536,896
    2013 Dec Form 990 $9,665,313 $9,096,505 $5,411,256 $3,827,468 N $9,630,735 $21,074 $70 $741,372 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $8,709,205 $8,944,383 $4,277,402 $3,262,422 N $8,693,520 $4,728 $2,369 $590,216 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $8,818,759 $9,731,028 $3,687,527 $2,437,369 N $8,766,550 $0 $4,769 $583,499 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Houston Advanced Research Center

    4800 RESEARCH FOREST DR
    THE WOODLANDS, TX 77381-4142