Penn State project breathing life into Philadelphia Navy Yard

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State's Board of Trustees on Jan. 18 approved final renovation and construction plans for the Energy Efficient Buildings (EEB) Hub headquarters building complex at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. The EEB Hub is a national effort to make commercial and multifamily residential buildings more energy efficient.

The designs for the EEB Hub building complex from the architectural firm of KieranTimberlake of Philadelphia, include renovation of an existing 38,000-square-foot building and the construction of a new 25,200-square-foot building. The buildings will facilitate public education and outreach, and function as the headquarters for the EEB Hub. The total project budget for both buildings combined is $39 million, funded by the state and grants from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the Economic Development Administration. Completion of both renovation and construction is expected by spring 2014.

Penn State's commitment to research and education in Pennsylvania is contributing to the larger economy. In the recent Senate appropriation hearing, Philadelphia senators brought up the impact of Penn State's leadership in the EEB Hub at the Navy Yard. The Navy Yard was closed by the federal government in 1996 and is currently home to more than 120 companies and 10,000 employees in the office, industrial, manufacturing and research and development sectors. The Navy Yard comprises 6.5 million square feet of real estate in a mix of historic buildings and new Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified construction. In 2011, Penn State researchers were awarded $159 million in grants, primarily from the DOE and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The funds created an Energy Efficient Buildings Hub at the Navy Yard, which will involve a substantial number of researchers from academia, the private sector and two national laboratories in a concerted effort to save energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and position the United States at the forefront of the energy-efficient building industry.

Penn State now leads the EEB Hub, the DOE Mid-Atlantic Clean Energy Applications Center and other sponsored research and education programs at the Navy Yard. Key partners include the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC), the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University, among other prominent partners. The consortium is a multidisciplinary think tank whose overall mission is to reduce energy consumption in regional commercial buildings by 20 percent at the end of the next eight years.

"This project is pioneering new technologies and tools to make buildings more energy efficient, and is creating new jobs in the Philadelphia area," said Henry Foley, vice president for research at Penn State and the EEB Hub principal investigator. "We expect this economic engine to continue for many years to come."

To this end, a building currently named 'Building 661' at the Navy Yard was made available both for experimentation and use as headquarters for this endeavor. Its renovation and the construction of the 25,200-square-foot 'Building 7R' will include research laboratories and technology demonstration spaces, as well as offices and state-of-the-art teaching facilities. Both buildings will be "living laboratories," LEED-certified and designed and constructed with cutting-edge sustainable practices and technologies.

Building 661 is the 38,000-square-foot former Navy Yard recreation center constructed in 1942 and unused since the base closure 17 years ago. Renovations will include the main entrance and lobby. Conference rooms, offices and support spaces will be housed in the east portion of the building. The large sky-lit atrium will be used as an exhibition and event space, with bleacher-style stairs providing seating for lectures and demonstrations. Interior glass walls will provide views of the lighting, building controls and building information modeling labs. The second floor will house a 120-seat symposium space and an Immersive Construction (Icon) Laboratory.

The retrofit of Building 661 will include extensive monitoring to collect indoor environmental quality data, and experimental modeling and test strategies will be developed. Whole-building system-performance metrics will be used to create and validate existing and new models for energy efficiency in building retrofits. Market-viable ideas will then be showcased and disseminated to the industry.

Directly across the street and adjoining the Building 661 property is an undeveloped 1.05-acre parcel. The University acquired this parcel from the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation for $1, the intent being to construct Building 7R, a demonstration site for teaching techniques and strategies to effect significant improvements in building energy performance. It will feature a 180-seat, two-story tiered lecture hall as well as offices, training classrooms and support spaces.

Building 7R will incorporate a number of sustainable features such as passive solar shading, geothermal wells and decentralized water-sourced heat pumps with energy recovery wheels. The building will be constructed to allow for a generous amount of natural daylight, thereby reducing the need for artificial lighting, which will be the main source of energy consumption in this building.

The most visible sustainability feature will be the storm water management plan. Overflow storm water from the Building 7R's green roof will be directed to a sculptural field of Pennsylvania slate and boulders. This water will then be used to flush toilets and irrigate the landscape.

With the completion of these respective renovation and development plans, Penn State will provide an even stronger long-term presence in the Navy Yard, as well as strengthen its relationship and educational research mission with the Department of Energy and its educational institution consortium of partners.

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Last Updated February 08, 2013