Professor Jim Granato, director of the Hobby Center for Public Policy (HCPP) at the University of Houston, has been appointed president of the newly created Greater Houston Natural Gas Vehicle Alliance. In his capacity, Granato will lead research and data analysis of issues relating to the use of natural gas as a transportation fuel.
"This relationship is a model of what we do at the center," Granato said. "The Hobby Center will provide independent research for the group. In addition to providing traditional policy evaluation assistance, the Hobby Center also will use new visualization tools that aid in identifying logistical challenges."
The Greater Houston Natural Gas Vehicle (NGV) Alliance, a nonprofit organization comprised of founding members Apache Corp., Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and CenterPoint Energy, will educate Houston-area fleet owners as well as the public about the benefits of fueling with natural gas. Established in summer 2010, the NGV is an open membership organization.
"Partnering with Jim and the University of Houston means decision makers will have access to thorough, innovative and objective research about natural gas vehicles," said the NGV's Britt Dearman, special projects manager for Apache.
Independent and unbiased research has characterized the HCPP since its inception in 1981. During Granato's tenure, the center has conducted research that has examined the Houston economy, the use of Conducted Energy Devices at the Houston Police Department, the demographics of Texas Lottery players, and capacity evaluation for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. Collaborating with NASA researchers, HCPP created the innovative Concept Visualization Lab that presents statistical data in dynamic and interactive methods.
"We'll create a map of our data using visual technology," Granato said. "We're looking at an exploratory analysis of where natural gas fleets are and who uses those fleets. We'll see where the needs are and where capacity is. If feasible, we also will look into air quality of those areas where natural gas fleets are used."
The partnership also is indicative of the university's commitment to pursuing an innovative energy initiative that partners with Houston industry to educate the next generation of scientists and leaders throughout the energy industry. As part of this initiative, the university has established UH Energy, a collection of UH researchers from engineering, law, business, geosciences, technology and the social sciences. These researchers are focused on shaping energy policy, forging new business approaches and educating the next generation of energy innovators.
"UH Energy team members shape energy policy and forge new business approaches to the way energy is created, delivered, used and shared," said UH President Renu Khator. "This partnership with the Greater Houston Natural Gas Vehicle Alliance is an example of teamwork, and illustrates how UH is poised to become ‘The Energy University.'"