by Julie Heffler
Much like the increase in green space popping up among Houston’s downtown skyscrapers, green is also budding among the region’s established energy industry, just as it has nationwide. Residents gathered at Houston City Hall’s Hermann Square in mid-October to learn how the basics of sun, wind and water are making for a sustainable future in the Bayou City.
“Energy Day was organized to expose the general public and schoolchildren to the wonders of energy in all of its forms,” said Alex Ignatiev, Energy Day organizer and a physics professor at the University of Houston.
The third annual festival drew 20,000 visitors to Energy Day, held October 19. Energy Day celebrates the importance of sustainable energy.
“It also helps to educate the general public and especially children about the exciting opportunities that science, technology, engineering, and mathematics can provide for their future,” Ignatiev said.
As in prior years, the 2013 Energy Day was supported by the Houston business community and area representatives. To educate attendees, 60 exhibits and more than 1,600 poster presentations about renewable energy and new strides in the field were presented by students of all levels, including UH students.
Because of the deep economic ties in the energy industry, Ramanan Krishnamoorti, chief energy officer at UH, said that Houston is in a prime position to pursue solutions that can alleviate the challenges, nuances and ramifications attributed to some current energy practices. Established in 2009 as one of UH President Renu Khator’s signature initiatives, UH Energy cements the University’s commitment to energy education, research and programs.
UH is ranked as one of the most “green” campuses in the nation.
In UH laboratories, researchers are working to solve large pieces of the industry’s energy puzzle, Krishnamoorti said. “Being in the Houston area, we are in an ideal space to do this sort of transformative work.”
And the knowledge shared during Energy Day through interactive displays and informational booths included this: Since 2009, Texas has been the largest wind energy producer in the U.S., and the state’s lead is only growing, Krishnamoorti said.
“Texas is also climbing the ranks for being the largest solar energy producer,” he said. “This city and society in general has recognized that we need to be responsible about how we generate energy.”
Energy Day organizers hope the interest in sustainable energy results in greater interest and attendance to the event, and for the event to spread to other cities in Texas and the country.