Penn State University is creating an Energy Efficient Buildings (EEB) Hub at Philadelphia’s Navy Yard, involving both a new building and the renovation of a 1940s building.
Officials broke ground on the project last week, and it is expected to be complete by January 2014.
Paul Hallacher, director of the EEB Hub, said Navy Yard was chosen for two main reasons. First the location has a stock of 270 existing buildings that are prime for renovation. With buildings consuming 40 percent of the energy in the US, it’s imperative to upgrade existing buildings as it would take too long to wait for new buildings to replace all the old ones.
“At Navy Yard, we are able to go there and involve ourselves in the ongoing renovation of a large number of buildings,” said Hallacher. “Also, it’s not that challenging to build a new, highly energy efficient building. It is challenging to renovate a building and be cost competitive in building markets.” The university plans to use its renovation experience at the new Hub to gain real-world experience with market proven solutions.
The second reason Penn State chose Navy Yard for its EEB Hub is because the area operates its own unregulated micro-grid. It has a 25 MW energy grid with about 80 customers, ranging from large industrial, to office and commercial, to small businesses. The micro-grid will give the EEB Hub an opportunity to test grid interface technologies, district management and onsite power storage, said Hallacher.
The power for the micro-grid comes primarily from PECO, but Navy Yard has some solar arrays, a fuel cell and battery storage.
The 35,000-sq-foot renovated building, renamed the Center for Building Energy Science, will function as a living laboratory, showcasing multiple energy saving technologies. The intent is to demonstrate how integrated design and construction methods can result in the cost-effective reduction of building energy use.
The newly constructed building will comprise 25,000 square feet.
EEB Hub, which is sponsored by the Department of Energy, performs research to develop and integrate materials, technologies, models and tools to optimize whole building energy performance.