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  • Shell Center for Sustainability
  • Shell Center for Sustainability
  • Shell Center for Sustainability
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The Shell Center for Sustainability's mission is to foster an interdisciplinary program of research, outreach, and education to address actions that can be taken to ensure the sustainable development of communities' living standards, interpreted broadly, to encompass all factors affecting the overall quality of life.


Student Internships & Research Initiatives

The Shell Center for Sustainability supports the development of new engineering and scientific curricula to educate an upcoming generation of students who will incorporate sustainability concepts into the future business plans, designs, and processes. We work to link Rice students to opportunities both within and outside of the university that will enhance their knowledge of sustainability. The Center also serves as a public educational forum for addressing critical issues related to global sustainability. (see Outreach). 

The Center has supported numerous studies and projects undertaken by Rice students on key sustainability issues. Highlights include:

  • Development of course related to sustainability and the energy industry
  • Research on the implementation of the Clean Air Act in Houston, 1970-2005
  • Stakeholder relations research related to energy production and conservation in Pinedale, Wyoming
  • Examination of sustainability practices at a Houston-based chemicals company
  • Participation in Air Quality, Water Quality, Climate Change, Coastal Cities, and Houston Future Scenarios workshops

Shell Center papers produced by Rice Students Stakeholder Relations Research in Pinedale, Wyoming
Clean Air Act Implementation in Houston, 1970-2005
Houston Ship Channel: Keeshan & Bost Chemical Company Case Study

(see a list of student projects on sustainable development)

Interdisciplinary Collaboration

As part of the Shell Center for Sustainability's mission forinterdisciplinary actions to ensure sustainable development, SCS also works with on-campus organizations that focus on the various components of sustainability. Together,these joint efforts provide a broad perspective of findings to consider change and impact, while offering students greater opportunities to participate in activities that reflect the needs of today and tomorrow.

Environmental Programs

Campus Sustainability

New initiatives and projects are taking place and being launched regularly. From building green to biodiesel production and use, learn more about on-campus Sustainability at Rice.

Energy and Climate Change

The Shell Center supports energy research and related educational outreach activities.  We work closely  with the Rice Energy Program, directed by Amy Myers Jaffe, which is supported by Rice's Environmental & Energy Systems Institute and the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy.

Our programs address such key questions as: 

  • How can we provide the energy and water needed to sustain a 50% increase in human population without irreparably damaging our environment?
  • How do we shift from carbon-based energy sources to non-carbon-based forms?
  • As we shift, how do we meet our energy needs from traditional carbon-based sources in a more sustainable fashion?
  • How do we better understand, communicate and respond not only to environmental impacts,but also to the health impacts of industrialization?
  • How can citizens have a more active role in their "stake" in economic development?

Our  research activities have concentrated on methane hydrates, carbon management, and nanotechnology and energy.  Outreach activities  have addressed conferences on Climate Change, Extreme Events and Coastal Cities, Houston Ozone, Energy and Nanotechnology, Methane Hydrates, and Implications of Energy Development and the Carbon Cycle.

Energy Policy

Located in Houston, Texas, the energy capital of the world, the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy has created a multifaceted program designed to promote original, forward-looking discussion and research on the energy-related challenges facing our society in the 21st century. The mission of the Energy Forum is to shed light on important trends—both regional and global—that shape the nature of global energy markets and influence the quantity and security of vital supplies needed to fuel world economic growth and prosperity. The choice of the word “forum” is deliberate. It reflects the group’s goal to serve as a focal point for the exchange of ideas on how to improve understanding of the complex political, cultural, religious, economic and social forces that influence open access to energy resources and their equitable distribution.


Student Projects on Sustainable Development:

Will Conrad, Undergraduate
Developed a background paper for the Exxon funded Clean Air act Conference

 Andrea Crumpacher, Professional Masters in Science
Participated in Scenarios Conference; attended Duke Energy Conference

Clayton Forswall, Post-undergraduate Research Assistant
Organized and developed a background paper for the Air Quality conference

Rachel Gelman, Undergraduate
Prepared contingent valuation analysis poll in Pinedale, Wyoming

Alison Harris, Undergraduate
Water research and Chinese language study, Nankai University, Tianjin, China

Katie Beth Higgins, Post-undergraduate Research Assistant
Delivered a presentation on Health Impact Analysis at a major conference.

Matt Hoetze, Professional Masters in Science
Developed a case study on the sustainability practices of a chemical plant

Nicholas Lacouture, Rice MBA Graduate
Prepared contingent valuation analysis poll in Pinedale

Karen Mascarenhas, Undergraduate
Conducted research on the Clean Air Act

Sarah Mason, Professional Masters in Science
Participated in the Air Quality Conference and the Scenarios Conference

George McGuirk, Post-undergraduate Research Assistant
Research assistant following graduation  
Prepared background materials for water seminars

Christine Robichaud, Professional Masters in Science
Preparied case study chemical plant. Developed a sustainable development course curriculum

Avanti Tamhane, Professional Masters in Science
Participated in the in Houston's Scenarios Conference

Stephanie Taylor, Undergraduate
Developed background information on the Coastal Cities Conference

Doug Thompson, Professional Masters in Science
Participated in the Houston Scenarios Conference; Prepared a proposal for Air Quality project

Abby Watrous, Post-undergraduate Research Assistant
Prepared a proposal to Exxon for the funding of the Air Quality Project