Two malls in town — The Galleria and Katy Mills Mall — soon see bp's EV charging Gigahubs. Photo via Wikipedia

Two Houston-area malls will be getting bp's electric vehicle charging technology thanks to a new global collaboration.

The global energy company will be bringing its global EV charging business, bp pulse, to 75 shopping facilities across the country thanks to a partnership with Simon Malls. Two malls in town — The Galleria and Katy Mills Mall — soon see bp's EV charging Gigahubs. The company will install and operate the chargers at the two area sites.

The deal aims to deliver over 900 ultra-fast charging bays that will support most make and model of EVs with the first locations opening to the public in early 2026. Other Texas locations include Grapevine Mills in Grapevine, and Austin’s Barton Creek Square.

“We’re pleased to complete this deal with Simon and expand our ultra-fast charging network footprint in the U.S.,” Richard Bartlett, CEO of bp pulse, says in a news release. “The Simon portfolio aligns with bp pulse’s strategy to deploy ultra-fast charging across the West Coast, East Coast, Sun Belt and Great Lakes, and we are thrilled to team up with Simon so that EV drivers have a range of retail offerings at their impressive destinations.”

Last month, bp pulse opened a EV charging station at its North American headquarters in Houston. The company plans to continue deployment of additional charging points at high-demand spots like major metropolitan areas, bp-owned properties, and airports, according to bp.

“As a committed long term infrastructure player with a global network of EV charging solutions, bp pulse intends to continue to seek and build transformative industry collaborations in real estate required to scale our network and match the demand of current and future EV drivers,” Sujay Sharma, CEO bp pulse Americas, adds.

League City, Sugar Land, and Pearland were just crowned among the top 10 safest and most affordable cities to live in the U.S. Photo via Getty Images

3 affordable Houston neighbors rank among America's 10 safest cities

HIGH PRAISE FOR THE 'BURBS

Crime may be a concern for some Houstonians, but life is a little more relaxed just beyond the city limits.

Three Houston-area suburbs – League City, Sugar Land, and Pearland – were just crowned among the top 10 safest and most affordable cities to live in the U.S., as declared in a new report by GoBankingRates.

The study, "50 Safest and Most Affordable US Cities To Live In," ranked the largest U.S. cities by population based on their cost of living and crime rate averages. Crime rates were determined based on the number of crimes per 1,000 city residents from the FBI’s Crime Data Explorer in 2022, the year with the most recent available data.

League City proudly landed in the No. 4 spot nationally, thanks to its low property and violent crime rates as well as a high median household income. Sugar Land and Pearland weren't too far behind in the top 10, ranking No. 6 and No. 7, respectively. The report emphasized these suburbs all offer "vibrant cultural scenes" and strong job markets for adults, along with great schools and abundant recreational activities for families to enjoy.

A League City household makes a median income of $117,316 annually, with an average mortgage cost of $2,216 per month, the report found. The total monthly cost of living in the family friendly city adds up to $4,157.

There were a total of 1,497 property crimes reported in the city in 2022, and 126 total violent crimes. For context, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated the population in League City spans more than 116,000 residents in 2023. That means the city's rate for violent crimes is 1.08 per 1,000 residents, and the property crime rate is 12.85 per 1,000 residents, according to the findings.

Sugar Land's median household income is much higher than League City's, at $132,247 per year. However, so were the average mortgage costs ($2,715 per month) and total monthly cost of living ($4,852).

There were 1,745 property crimes and 97 violent crimes reported in Sugar Land in 2022. That would place Sugar Land's property crime rate at 16.16 per 1,000 city residents, and 0.90 violent crimes per 1,000 residents.

Here's how the report breaks down Pearland's cost of living and crime rate statistics:

  • Median household income: $111,123
  • Household average mortgage cost: $2,257
  • Total monthly cost of living: $4,352
  • Property crimes (reported in 2022): 2,152
  • Property crime per 1,000 residents: 17.09
  • Violent crimes (reported in 2022): 117
  • Violent crime per 1,000 residents: .93

Large Texas cities, such as Houston proper, Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, and San Antonio, were all noticeably absent in the ranking. This is likely because – as most Texans are aware – bigger cities often have higher crime rates and higher costs of living than their outlying suburbs.

"Choosing a family-friendly place to live is a significant decision that involves a balancing act between safety and affordability in any big city," the report said. "Whether you’re a young professional, a growing family or a retiree, finding real estate where you feel comfortable — both physically and financially — is crucial for a high quality of life."

Other Texas cities that were ranked in the top 25 safest and most affordable places to live include El Paso (No. 11), McKinney (No. 15), Frisco (No. 16), Laredo (No. 18), Grand Prairie (No. 21), Plano (No. 22), Carrollton (No. 23), and McAllen (No. 24).

The top 10 safest and most affordable U.S. cities to live in are:

  • No. 1 – Elgin, Illinois
  • No. 2 – Cary, North Carolina
  • No. 3 – Gilbert, Arizona
  • No. 4 – League City, Texas
  • No. 5 – Rochester, Minnesota
  • No. 6 – Sugar Land, Texas
  • No. 7 – Pearland, Texas
  • No. 8 – Meridian, Idaho
  • No. 9 – Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
  • No. 10 – Olathe, Kansas
The full report and its methodology can be found on gobankingrates.com

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Was Houston snubbed? Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash

Houston falls behind other Texas cities in report ranking best tech hubs

ouch

In a recent report analyzing metrics for best cities for tech hubs, Houston failed to crack the top 20 — unlike a few other Texas cities.

The new report, "The Top Tech Cities in the US: Ranking 100 Cities in 2024," by online security experts Cloudwards, examined 100 tech-reliant cities in the nation across 17 key indicators, including salaries for information technology professionals, a city's cost of living, internet quality, job opportunities and tech-related companies, and more.

Austin is the No. 7 best tech city in the nation, yet somehow not the best in Texas; The Dallas suburb of Plano outshone the capital city at No. 4, and its neighbor Frisco came in at No. 10. Houston, however, came in at No. 22.


Courtesy of: Cloudwards.net

Here's how Houston stacked up in the major categories in the study:

  • No. 13 – Cost of Living and Tech Salaries
  • No. 16 – Career and Education
  • No. 40 – Tech Community
  • No. 44 – Innovation and Entrepreneurship
  • No. 53 – Internet Coverage and Quality

Austin's spot in No. 7 behind Plano's No. 4 might be surprising, but, according to the report, the Texas capitol's higher cost of living is to blame.

"Texas’s capital, Austin is a good place for startups since it’s easy to find top talent, initial capital and inexpensive office space," wrote the report's author. "However, due to the rapid rise in population (3 percent between 2021 and 2022), the cost of living has increased and access to good real estate has become more costly. Even so, the city’s distinct culture, access to educational opportunities and work-life balance continue to make Austin a popular choice for many IT professionals."

With many employers still embracing remote work, having a good wifi connection can make or break a person's ability to work from home. It seems that helped Plano get a leg up on Austin; 96 percent of Plano households have internet access, which was the single best connection rate of any city in the study. Austin didn't make the top five — but at least it didn't make the bottom five either.

Frisco also topped out in one category in particular, earning the title as "the most livable city in the U.S." according to Cloudwards.

Average salaries for IT professionals in Frisco come out to about $95,516 annually, which is only a $217 difference from Plano at $95,733. Given Austin's middling rank on the list above, no data was shared.

Central Texas didn't have much representation on the list. Although there were several North Texas suburbs, the only city near Austin was San Antonio, which came in at No. 18. It was the "Innovation and Entrepreneurship" category that brought it down, ranking No. 72.

Nationally, the cities that round out the top five most tech-savvy cities in the U.S. are:

  • No. 1 – New York City, New York
  • No. 2 – Washington, D.C.
  • No. 3 – San Francisco, California
  • No. 4 – Plano, Texas
  • No. 5 – Jersey City, New Jersey

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Turns out, everyone wants to live here. Photo via Getty Images

Houston named 4th most populous city in U.S. — with the greatest housing growth — in new Census report

welcome, newstonians

Houston is the fourth most populous U.S. city, and saw the ninth largest numeric population gain of any U.S. city in 2022, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's latest findings.

From July 2021 to July 2022, Houston added 11,223 new residents, bringing its total population to 2,302,878. By comparison, San Antonio (population just under 1.5 million) is the seventh largest.

Harris County also led the way with the highest numeric gains for housing units in the nation, at 32,694, coinciding with recent reports deeming Houston the most active real estate market within the last decade.

Together, Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land ranked No. 5 in the list of the 10 most populous U.S. metro areas (as opposed to the cities, themselves). Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington ranked one place higher at No. 4.

Texas cities and towns dominated every list in the new Census Bureau report. "Texas was the only state that had more than three cities on both the 15 fastest-growing large cities and towns by numeric change and by percent change lists," the report says.

Fastest-growing cities
Six out of the 15 fastest-growing cities in the United States are in Texas, and with one Houston suburb – Conroe – landing at No. 11. Conroe had an 6.3 percent population increase from July 2021 to July 2022, bringing the city's total population just over 101,400.

The north Austin suburb of Georgetown had the highest growth rate in the nation, at 14.4 percent, bringing the city's total population to more than 86,500 residents. Surrounding Austin suburbs Kyle and Leander landed in No. 3 and No. 4 with the same population growth rate of 10.9 percent.

The not-so-little Dallas suburb Little Elm zoomed all the way up to No. 5 with an 8 percent population increase, bringing the city's total population to more than 55,300 residents. New Braunfels, which is outside San Antonio, came in at No. 13.

The top 15 fastest-growing large cities in the U.S. are:

  • No. 1 – Georgetown, Texas
  • No. 2 – Santa Cruz, California
  • No. 3 – Kyle, Texas
  • No. 4 – Leander, Texas
  • No. 5 – Little Elm, Texas
  • No. 6 – Westfield, Indiana
  • No. 7 – Queen Creek, Arizona
  • No. 8 – North Port, Florida
  • No. 9 – Cape Coral, Florida
  • No. 10 – Port St. Lucie, Florida
  • No. 11 – Conroe, Texas
  • No. 12 – Maricopa, Arizona
  • No. 13 – New Braunfels, Texas
  • No. 14 – Lehi, Utah
  • No. 15 – Medford, Massachusetts
Largest population increases
When it comes to most populous cities overall, Texas takes five of the 15 top spots with Houston claiming No. 1 in the state. After Houston's No. 4 national rank with its population of over 2.3 million, San Antonio earned No. 7 with over 1.47 million residents, and Dallas at No. 9 with just under 1.3 million residents. Austin barely made it into the top 10 with over 974,000 residents, and Fort Worth ranked No. 13.

The top 15 most populous American cities are:

  • No. 1 – New York City
  • No. 2 – Los Angeles
  • No. 3 – Chicago
  • No. 4 – Houston
  • No. 5 – Phoenix
  • No. 6 – Philadelphia
  • No. 7 – San Antonio, Texas
  • No. 8 – San Diego, California
  • No. 9 – Dallas
  • No. 10 – Austin, Texas
  • No. 11 - Jacksonville, Florida
  • No. 12 - San Jose, California
  • No. 13 - Fort Worth, Texas
  • No. 14 - Columbus, Ohio
  • No. 15 - Charlotte, North Carolina

Greatest housing growth
The report also discovered that housing inventory skyrocketed by 1.6 million units between 2021 and 2022. Texas had the third fastest housing growth with a rate of 2.3 percent, versus Utah, which had the fastest growth at 3.3 percent.

In addition to Harris County, the only other Texas county that made the top five for the highest housing growth was Travis (No. 3).

The full report can be found on census.gov.

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DOSS is a real estate platform founded in Houston that helps democratize access to homeownership. Photo via Getty Images

How this Houston innovator is tapping into tech to make homeownership more accessible

ask DOSS

Real estate and homeownership has been historically exclusionary. Bobby Bryant — the first Black man to create and franchise a real estate brokerage brand — wanted to do something about that.

Considering the history of the real estate industry — women weren't able to buy homes without being married and African Americans were refused outright thanks to the country's history of redlining — Bryant tells InnovationMap he saw an opportunity for a business.

“I look at diversity as our superpower, and I look at the opportunity to kick that door down," he says.

Bryant is the CEO and founder of DOSS, a digital brokerage that uses tech to make homeownership more affordable. DOSS is in the process of developing what Bryant describes as a “real estate super app.” The company, which was born in 2016, has developed a technology where customers are able to ask for real-estate advice and tips, search for home listings, get neighborhood information, and recent sales data.

The effort received funding via the Google for Startups Black Founders program, which totalled $100,000. DOSS touts its platform as a dynamic and effective effort to methodically dissect the entire real estate process and rebuild a modern-day digital real estate brokerage with a “flex-model” that's more modern.

Bryant is looking to grow DOSS using a franchise method. Franchisees get a program that lowers their expenses, increases their bottom line, and provides cutting edge technology that includes use of artificial intelligence. While the real estate space is competitive, and for some could be daunting, Bryant looks to modernize the industry, while making it simpler to navigate. And that's where the tech comes in.

“The fluidness of the process, not making it as restrictive to certain groups, it really opens things up, and that is what we’ve seen with our technology,” Bryant says. “How do we turn around and make data more humanistic and centralize it?

"We want people to feel comfortable asking questions and getting accurate answers," he continues. "Millenials and Gen Z are the most-educated generations we’ve seen in history. They are also the most diverse in history. We understand that."

Bryant explains how important equity and honesty is to these new generations, and he's built DOSS with them in mind. As a former educator with two master's degrees in education, Bryant transitioned to the world of real estate in 1999. He says he sees a connection in his journey from helping students to now helping people find a home — especially to these younger generations of first-time buyers who are dealing with an ever-changing market.

“Education is a part of all of our lives,” Bryant says. “I've been able to educate people on the process, and create a technology that makes it all more fluid, and insightful and transparent with the real estate industry. ... What I’ve done is incorporate an educational process, which I guess you can say is an advantage I have.”

Bobby Bryant founded Doss to make it easier to learn about homeownership. Photo via askdoss.com

Hines, which opened its Texas Tower in 2021, is hoping to reach net-zero operational carbon by 2040. Image via Hines

Houston real estate giant cracks down on carbon emissions

seeing green

Houston-based real estate giant Hines is on a mission to make its entire global portfolio free of carbon emissions.

Hines recently set a target of its 1,530 properties in 28 countries being net-zero operational carbon by 2040, including the 27.7 million square feet of space it owns or manages in the Houston area. Operational carbon refers to greenhouse gases produced by building operations.

The company says it will accomplish the net-zero goal by reducing emissions through renewable technology, and not by purchasing carbon offset credits.

Peter Epping, global head of ESG (environmental, social, and governance) at Hines, says that because the company has made its carbon-neutral plan public, “investors, developers, engineers, and building managers across our industry can use it to guide their own carbon-reduction efforts.”

Hines notes that the real estate sector emits nearly 40 percent of global carbon emissions related to energy. The World Building Council’s Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment calls for decarbonizing half of buildings by 2030 and all buildings by 2050.

“As the impact of climate change is becoming increasingly integrated into our lives every day, the real estate industry has a responsibility to acknowledge this growing problem and take meaningful action to reduce our collective carbon emissions,” Jeff Hines, chairman and co-CEO of Hines, says in a news release. “By seeking to achieve net-zero operational carbon without relying on offsets, Hines wants to raise the bar for sustainability and invest in a plan designed to achieve significant and tangible results.”

To achieve those results, Hines plans to:

  • Halting the use fossil fuels to power buildings in its $90.3 billion portfolio.
  • Reducing energy demand by improving building efficiencies.
  • Boosting reliance on renewable energy.
  • Using “circular systems” to reduce energy waste and enhance efficiency.
  • Promoting carbon capture.

A recent report from Houston-based law firm Vinson & Elkins underscores the economic benefits that the net-zero movement presents to commercial real estate players like Hines.

“Real estate increasingly attracts attention from sustainability-minded investors amid a wider push for ESG considerations in bond and loan markets. … Decarbonizing the real estate industry will likely require trillions of dollars of capital, but there is vast opportunity for environmentally friendly projects to access additional financing sources, often on favorable terms,” Caitlin Snelson, sustainable finance senior associate in the Houston office of Vinson & Elkins, says in a news release.

Beyond real estate, Hines’ net-zero campaign aligns with efforts to transform Houston into a net-zero industrial hub. A whitepaper published by Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy declares that Houston is well-positioned to become a “best in class” net-zero hub.

According to the whitepaper, the hub “could serve as a magnet for new and emerging industries, innovators and entrepreneurs and investment in energy transition companies and resources. Failure to develop a hub could lead to loss of these benefits and opportunities.”

Consulting giant McKinsey & Co. points out that clean hydrogen is emerging as a vehicle to achieve net-zero status and says Houston could evolve into a global hub for clean hydrogen. A Houston hub that’s in place by 2050 could generate 180,000 jobs and an economic impact of $100 billion, according to McKinsey.

“With the right supportive policy frameworks, Texas could become the global leader in clean-hydrogen production, application, development, and exports with Houston at its core; the resulting thriving hydrogen community could push innovation and develop the necessary talent to conceive and deliver hydrogen projects,” McKinsey says.

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Houston chemist lands $2M NIH grant for cancer treatment research

future of cellular health

A Rice University chemist has landed a $2 million grant from the National Institute of Health for his work that aims to reprogram the genetic code and explore the role certain cells play in causing diseases like cancer and neurological disorders.

The funds were awarded to Han Xiao, the Norman Hackerman-Welch Young Investigator, associate professor of chemistry, from the NIH's Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (MIRA) program, which supports medically focused laboratories.

Xiao will use the five-year grant to develop noncanonical amino acids (ncAAs) with diverse properties to help build proteins, according to a statement from Rice. He and his team will then use the ncAAs to explore the vivo sensors for enzymes involved in posttranslational modifications (PTMs), which play a role in the development of cancers and neurological disorders. Additionally, the team will look to develop a way to detect these enzymes in living organisms in real-time rather than in a lab.

“This innovative approach could revolutionize how we understand and control cellular functions,” Xiao said in the statement.

According to Rice, these developments could have major implications for the way diseases are treated, specifically for epigenetic inhibitors that are used to treat cancer.

Xiao helped lead the charge to launch Rice's new Synthesis X Center this spring. The center, which was born out of informal meetings between Xio's lab and others from the Baylor College of Medicine’s Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center at the Baylor College of Medicine, aims to improve cancer outcomes by turning fundamental research into clinical applications.

They will build upon annual retreats, in which investigators can share unpublished findings, and also plan to host a national conference, the first slated for this fall titled "Synthetic Innovations Towards a Cure for Cancer.”

Houston neighbor ranks as one of America's most livable small cities

mo city

Some Houston suburbs stick out from the rest thanks to their affluent residents, and now Missouri City is getting time in the spotlight, thanks to its new ranking as the No. 77 most livable small city in the country.

The tiny but mighty Houston neighbor, located less than 20 miles southwest of Houston, was among six Texas cities that earned a top-100 ranking in SmartAsset's 2024 " Most Livable Small Cities" report. It compared 281 U.S. cities with populations between 65,000 and 100,000 residents across eight metrics, such as a resident's housing costs as a percentage of household income, the city's average commute times, and the proportions of entertainment, food service, and healthcare establishments.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Missouri City has an estimated population of over 76,000 residents, whose median household income comes out to $97,211. SmartAsset calculated that a Missouri City household's annual housing costs only take up 19.4 percent of that household's income. Additionally, the study found only six percent of the town's population live below the poverty level.

Here's how Missouri City performed in two other metrics in the study:

  • 1.4 percent – The proportion of arts, entertainment, and recreation businesses as a percentage of all businesses
  • 29.9 minutes – Worker's average commute time

But income and housing aren't the only things that make Missouri City one of the most livable small cities in Texas. Residents benefit from its proximity from central Houston, but the town mainly prides itself on its spacious park system, playgrounds, and other recreational activities.

Missouri City, Texas

Missouri City residents have plenty of parkland to enjoy. www.missouricitytx.gov

The Missouri City Parks and Recreation Departmen meticulously maintains 21 parks spanning just over 515 acres of land, an additional 500 acres of undeveloped parkland, and 14.4 miles of trails throughout the town, according to the city's website."Small cities may offer cost benefits for residents looking to stretch their income while enjoying a comfortable – and more spacious – lifestyle," the report's author wrote. "While livability is a subjective concept that may take on different definitions for different people, some elements of a community can come close to being universally beneficial."

Missouri City is also home to Fort Bend Town Square, a massive mixed-use development at the intersection of TX 6 and the Fort Bend Parkway. It offers apartments, shopping, and restaurants, including a rumored location of Trill Burgers.

Other Houston-area cities that earned a spot in the report include

Spring (No. 227) and Baytown (No. 254).The five remaining Texas cities that were among the top 100 most livable small cities in the U.S. include Flower Mound (No. 29), Leander (No. 60), Mansfield (No. 69), Pflugerville (No. 78), and Cedar Park (No. 85).

The top 10 most livable small cities in the U.S. are:

  • No. 1 – Troy, Michigan
  • No. 2 – Rochester Hills, Michigan
  • No. 3 – Eau Claire, Wisconsin
  • No. 4 – Franklin, Tennessee
  • No. 5 – Redmond, Washington
  • No. 6 – Appleton, Wisconsin
  • No. 7 – Apex, North Carolina
  • No. 8 – Plymouth, Minnesota
  • No. 9 – Livonia, Michigan
  • No. 10 – Oshkosh, Wisconsin

The report examined data from the U.S. Census Bureau's 2022 1-year American Community Survey and the 2021 County Business Patterns Survey to determine its rankings.The report and its methodology can be found on

smartasset.com

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.