Penn State opens Smart Grid Experience Center at The Navy Yard in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA — A new facility for exploring smart energy solutions was officially opened Oct. 30 at The Navy Yard in Philadelphia. The GridSTAR Smart Grid Experience Center features a variety of energy technologies that demonstrate methods for building homes, commercial buildings and campuses that are friendlier to the electric grid.

The project site in The Navy Yard includes a smart grid modular home, a flexible indoor-outdoor training facility, electric vehicle charging stations and a large battery that helps improve the operation of the electrical grid. The site also features a sustainable storm-water management and native plant landscaping.

The GridSTAR Center is one of several energy initiatives launched by Penn State at The Navy Yard. David Riley, a faculty member in the Penn State Department of Architectural Engineering, leads the GridSTAR project.

“The Navy Yard is an extraordinary setting to explore new energy solutions,” said Riley. “Having all of these new technologies and partners in one place is a great asset for our region and will help us learn about smart grid solutions together.”

“Having all of these new technologies and partners in one place is a great asset for our region, and will help us learn about smart grid solutions together.”

— David Riley, GridSTAR project lead

The Oct. 30 ribbon cutting ceremony was attended by more than 300 individuals seeking a first peak at the new facilities. In the opening statements, the first to be recognized were the ninth grade students from the Philadelphia-based Workshop School, a class from Philadelphia University’s Sustainable Design and Construction Program and 50 students in the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers' Local 98’s Electrician Apprenticeship program.

“These are the individuals that will build and operate the energy systems of the future, and for whom we have been inspired to build the Smart Grid Experience Center,” stated Riley.

The GridSTAR Smart Grid Experience Center was launched through grants from the U.S. Department of Energy and the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Finance Authority, and has also included significant contributions of materials, equipment and volunteer expertise from industry partners.

Several leaders from Penn State’s University Park Campus attended the event including, David Gray, Penn State’s senior vice president of finance and business, and Neil Sharkey, Penn State’s senior vice president for research, who also provided remarks at the event.

“Penn State is proud to be a part of the effort at the Navy Yard,” shared Sharkey.

Will Agate, the senior vice president of Navy Yard Development for the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp. took time to acknowledge the diversity of contributors to the project. “This is a project built around collaboration,” declared Agate.

“This is a project built around collaboration.”

— Will Agate, senior vice president, Navy Yard Development, Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp.

“We are particularly proud of the number of Pennsylvania-based businesses that have contributed to the project,” added Riley. The smart grid modular home was built by Simplex Homes in Scranton, Pa., and Philadelphia-based Home Edison. CertainTeed (Valley Forge, Pa.), Lutron Electronics (Coopersburg, Pa.) and Eaton Corp. (Moon, Pa.) each made significant contributions of products and expertise to the project. Solar Grid Storage, a new Philadelphia-based firm founded by Don Bradley, also helped to develop and commission the grid interactive energy storage system at the Experience Center.

The GridSTAR center will serve as the headquarters for a series of education programs and workshops on energy technologies and the smart grid. It is also expected to be a popular destination for visiting conferences and regional events, and will be featured on two official tours offered during the 2013 GreenBuild Conference scheduled in Philadelphia, Nov. 18 to 23.

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Last Updated November 13, 2013