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Penn State to Lead Philadelphia-Based Team that will Pioneer New Energy-Efficient Building Designs

August 24, 2010 - 12:00am

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Washington, D.C. - A team led by The Pennsylvania State University will receive up to $122 million over the next five years from the Department of Energy to establish an Energy Innovation Hub focused on developing technologies to make buildings more energy efficient.  The Energy Innovation Hub will be located at the Philadelphia Navy Yard Clean Energy campus, and will bring together leading researchers from academia, two U.S. National Laboratories and the private sector in an ambitious effort to develop energy-efficient building designs that will save energy, cut pollution, and position the United States as a leader in this industry.

Buildings account for nearly 40 percent of U.S. energy consumption and carbon emissions.  Developing systems to improve building efficiency will provide significant benefits - reducing energy use and bills, cutting pollution, and creating jobs in the building efficiency industry.

"The Energy Innovation Hubs are a key part of our effort to harness the power of American ingenuity to achieve transformative energy breakthroughs," said Secretary Chu.  "By bringing together some of our brightest minds, we can develop cutting-edge building energy efficiency technologies that will reduce energy bills, cut carbon pollution, and create jobs.  This important investment will help Philadelphia become a leader in the global clean energy economy."

"This significant federal funding to establish the Energy Innovation Hub will build on Pennsylvania's growing reputation as a clean energy leader," said Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell. "In addition to helping to protect our environment, investments in clean energy create good-paying jobs. And the great ideas that will come from this groundbreaking energy lab will help to reduce our nation's reliance on foreign energy sources - representing a win-win for taxpayers."

"This funding is great news for the Commonwealth and is a crucial step towards creating a more sustainable and environmentally friendly America," said U.S. Senator Bob Casey.  "With this support, the consortium can focus on energy efficiency and innovation and assist communities in reducing their energy use and creating good jobs for Pennsylvanians."

"Reducing energy consumption by buildings is an indispensable part of a clean energy, energy-efficient, low-emission American economy," said U.S. Senator Arlen Specter.  "This funding presents a major opportunity to create new jobs and industries, save energy, reduce energy prices, and reduce emissions. I am pleased that Penn State and Philadelphia are leading the nation through technical innovation."

The mission of this Energy Innovation Hub is to research, develop and demonstrate highly efficient building components, systems, and models which are applicable to both retrofit and new construction. The Hub team will pursue a research, development and demonstration (RD&D) program targeting technologies for single buildings and district-wide systems. 

These technologies include computer simulation and design tools to enable integrated project teams of architects, engineers, contractors and building operators to work collaboratively on retrofit, renovation and new building design projects; advanced combined heat and power (CHP) systems; building-integrated photovoltaic systems for energy generation; advanced HVAC systems with integrated indoor air quality management; and  sensor and control networks to monitor building conditions and optimize energy use.  The RD&D program will also incorporate a systematic analysis of the role of policy, markets and behavior in driving the adoption and use of energy technologies in buildings.

The Energy-Efficient Building Systems Design Hub is one of three Hubs that will receive funding in FY10. In May, the Department announced that a team led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory will establish a Hub on modeling and simulation for nuclear reactors. In July, the Department announced that a team led by the California Institute of Technology will establish a Hub focused on developing Fuels from Sunlight. The Energy Innovation Hubs are large, multidisciplinary, highly collaborative teams of scientists and engineers working over a longer time frame to achieve a specific high-priority technical goal. They will be managed by top teams of scientists and engineers with enough resources and authority to move quickly in response to new developments.

The team, led by Dr. Henry C. Foley, will use the Navy Yard campus, which has over 200 buildings and operates an independent electric microgrid as a "virtual municipality" to test and validate the technologies developed by the RD&D program in real buildings.

The Energy Innovation Hub will be funded by the Department of Energy at up to $22 million this fiscal year. The Hub will then be funded at an estimated $25 million per year for the next four years, subject to Congressional appropriations.

Additionally, the Energy-Efficient Building Systems Design Hub will serve as an anchor for a multi-agency initiative to support a Regional Innovation Cluster.  Further details of the Regional Innovation Cluster will be announced soon.

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