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Houston brings in record cleantech funding, Rice University partners on energy transition, and more top news

Houston university inks partnership with giant French research institution — and more top energy transition news. Photo via Rice University

Editor'snote: From a podcast with a geothermal energy tech leader to a new report on climatetech funding in Houston, these are the top headlines that resonated with EnergyCapital readers on social media and daily newsletter this week.

Houston geothermal entrepreneur gears up 100x business growth

Tim Latimer, CEO and co-founder of Fervo Energy, joins the Houston Innovators Podcast to share his story as a reluctant entrepreneur who's headed toward 100x business growth. Photo courtesy of Fervo Energy

Geothermal energy has been growing in recognition as a major player in the clean energy mix, and while many might think of it as a new climatetech solution, Tim Latimer, co-founder and CEO of Fervo Energy, knows better.

"Every overnight success is a decade in the making, and I think Fervo, fortunately — and geothermal as a whole — has become much more high profile recently as people realize that it can be a tremendous solution to the challenges that our energy sector and climate are facing," he says on the Houston Innovators Podcast.

In fact, Latimer has been bullish on geothermal as a clean energy source since he quit his job as a drilling engineer in oil and gas to pursue a dual degree program — MBA and master's in earth sciences — at Stanford University. He had decided that, with the reluctance of incumbent energy companies to try new technologies, he was going to figure out how to start his own company. Through the Stanford program and Activate, a nonprofit hardtech program that funded two years of Fervo's research and development, Latimer did just that. Continue reading.

With $200M raised last year, Houston cleans up on new report tracking climatetech funding

According to a new report, Houston attracted the fifth most climatetech funding last year in the United States. Photo via Getty Images

Climatech funding for Houston-area startups crept toward the $200 million mark in 2023 — putting it ahead of Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, and several other major metro areas and making it a standout among U.S. climatech hubs.

Last year, the Houston area collected $199.94 million in climatech funding across 14 deals, according to PitchBook data analyzed by Revolution Growth, a venture capital firm based in Washington, D.C.

“With its deep-rooted energy sector, Houston is an attractive HQ for companies innovating within renewable energy, carbon capture, and emissions reduction,” Revolution says. “Partnerships with oil and gas companies also provide unique collaboration opportunities for climate tech startups, accelerating market adoption and helping companies achieve scale quickly.” Continue reading.

Houston university inks partnership with giant French research institution

The two entities will collaborate on work focused on "fields of energy and climate; quantum computing and artificial intelligence; global health and medicine; and urban futures." Photo via Rice University

Rice University and Université Paris Sciences & Lettres signed a strategic partnership agreement last week that states that the two institutions will work together on research on some of today's most pressing subject matters.

According to an announcement made on May 13 in Paris, the two schools and research hubs will collaborate on work focused on "fields of energy and climate; quantum computing and artificial intelligence; global health and medicine; and urban futures."

The partnership allows Rice to expand its presence in France, after launching its Rice Global Paris Center about two years ago. Continue reading.

BP donates $200,000 to Houston school system's EV training program

HCC's Transportation Center of Excellence Electric Vehicle training program received a donation of $200,000 from BP America. Photo courtesy of HCC

BP America agreed to donate a large sum to Houston Community College in order to support the future of the city's electric vehicle workforce.

During the Board of Trustees meeting, HCC's Transportation Center of Excellence Electric Vehicle training program received a donation of $200,000 from BP America. The program plans to use the funds for a safety and fundamentals course for more than 300 City of Houston’s and Harris County fleet department employees, which equips technicians to repair and maintain EVs.

“We are delighted to be at the forefront of this important education to equip Houstonians with the knowledge and skills to maintain electric vehicles,” Chancellor Margaret Ford Fisher says in a news release. “This generous donation is a win for the partners involved and for helping to ensure a sustainable future.” Continue reading.

Houston students selected for prestigious DOE program

The DOE program allows graduate students to work on research projects that address national and international energy, environmental, and nuclear challenges. Photo via UH.edu

Three rising stars in the energy sector who are graduate students at the University of Houston have been chosen for a prestigious U.S. Department of Energy research program.

UH doctoral candidates Caleb Broodo, Leonard Jiang, and Farzana Likhi, are among 86 students from 31 states who were selected for the Office of Science Graduate Student Research program, which provides training at Department of Energy (DOE) labs.

“This recognition is a testament to their hard work and dedication to pushing the boundaries of science, and to our commitment to fostering excellence in research and innovation,” Sarah Larsen, vice provost and dean of the UH’s graduate school, says. Continue reading.

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A View From HETI

Madewell is just one of the Houston retailers accepting used clothing and denim for recycling. Photo courtesy of Madewell

Shopping is fun, but it comes with the unseen price tag of more than 92 million tons of global textile waste generated each year. With the apparel industry's global emissions predicted to increase by 50 percent in just six years, many see this as a full-blown climate crisis that is already affecting people across the globe.

To combat this problem, several retailers have committed to bolstering their sustainability efforts. From recycling linens, towels, pillows, and robes to upcycling denim, companies are finding ways for every textile to be saved from the landfill and either re-worn, repurposed, or recycled.

Stores trying to make a difference include Patagonia, North Face, J.Jill, Carter's, and DSW Shoes. To make summer vacation and back-to-school shopping more environmentally friendly, we've rounded up six Houston retailers where customers can trade in used clothing and textiles for exclusive discounts.

Gap

Gap has partnered with ThredUp, an online resale company, to recycle gently used clothing for their Gap for Good initiative. Customers can activate a kit and get a label here, fill the bag, and drop it off at any FedEx or post office location. If ThredUp selects any items for resale, customers can choose to receive either cash or store credit. Those who opt for store credit and use it at any Gap Inc.-brand stores will receive an additional 15% off their purchase. For clothes not chosen for resale, ThredUp offers recycling services, or the items can be mailed back to the customer for a fee.

H&M

According to H&M's website, its worldwide garment recycling program, launched in 2013, is "the biggest of its kind in the world." Customers can get 15 percent off their purchase by bringing unwanted clothes or textiles — from any brand and in any condition — to one of its stores. Turn them in at the cashier's kiosk and receive a coupon for their next purchase. The clothing and textiles will be sorted into three categories: re-wear, reuse, or recycling.

Levi's

Levi's aims to keep its coveted jeans in circulation and out of landfills with its trade-in program. The brand accepts denim and trucker jackets that are still in good condition; they repair any minor damage, sanitize the items, and resell them through their secondhand shop. Customers will receive a gift card ranging from $5 to $30, depending on the value of the item traded in. Customers must make an appointment to take advantage of this program, and only certain types of denim are accepted. A complete list of requirements is available here.

Lululemon

Have a drawer full of old Lululemon workout gear? Trade it in for a gift card towards a future purchase. The garment does not need to have its care tag, size tag, or price tag for this initiative; the workout brand accepts clean and gently worn (items with no damage, pilling, rips, or discoloration) women's and men's Lululemon clothing and bags for their Like New program. Except for outlet stores, every Lululemon outpost can accept items for the Like New program. Check what they're taking before going to the store, because items cycle in and out depending on seasonality and inventory. The value of the gift card customers will receive is determined by the value of the items traded in, but generally ranges in price from $5 to $25 and can be redeemed in-store or online.

Madewell

Madewell is on a mission to become fully sustainable, defined as using only fibers sustainably sourced and free of virgin plastics, by 2025. It has partnered with Cotton's Blue Jeans Go Green program to repurpose denim and keep it out of landfills by turning old jeans into housing insulation.

To participate in Madewell's recycling program, bring any brand or style of jeans in any condition to any Madewell store. If shipping is more convenient, activate a Clean Out Kit here or print out a free shipping label and mail in women's previously used clothing, handbags, shoes, and accessories from any brand. In exchange, customers will get a coupon for $20 off purchasing one new pair of Madewell jeans.

Parachute

Parachute, the beloved home essentials brand, is celebrating its 10th anniversary by launching a recycling program. In partnership with SuperCircle, they accept used towels, sheets, and robes. Although there are several recycling programs for clothing, shoes, and accessories, Parachute is pioneering this type of program in the home textile sector.

To participate in the program, customers can take their sheets, towels, pillows, and robes in any condition from any brand to Parachute's Rice Village store. They'll sort and recycle donated items for a second life – from new textiles to new projects, including furniture batting, insulation, and padding – sending nothing to landfill. In return, customers will receive a discount on their next Parachute purchase.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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