Navy Yard to be redeveloped into research facility

Since 1991, the Philadelphia Navy Yard has sat dormant – a huge vacant plot replete with potential on a prime swath of waterfront. Now, with the help of the Pennsylvania State University, the "city within a city" is to be redeveloped into an energy efficiency research hub.

The school hopes to turn the former recreation center that was part of the naval campus into a model facility for businesses looking to explore the latest in environmentally friendly retrofits. By redesigning the swimming areas and basketball courts to meet the newest standards of energy efficiency, the school hopes to inspire area companies to follow their example.

"We want to make it where it’s afford­able, where it’s prac­ti­cal. This is to demon­strate 'how to do it' instead of just com­ing up with the best energy effi­cient num­ber we can pos­si­bly get," Penn State’s Steven DiBar­tolo told WHYY, a local public radio affiliate.

The new project will be deemed the EEB (Energy Efficient Building) Hub once completed, and is funded through a $130 million grant provided by the Department of Energy (DOE). The goal of the EEB Hub is to help the DOE reach its goal of creating a 20 percent reduction in commercial energy consumption by 2020.

According to the EEB Hub Deputy Director Laurie Actman, a large reason why Penn State received the grant is because of the projects location in the former Navy Yard. Because the development involves the rehabilitation of older, in some cases decrepit buildings, the school is in the unique position of being able demonstrate energy efficiency that all kinds of building owners can take advantage of, not just inhabitants of new properties.

For business or homeowners who live in an older building but would like to know how they can save on their monthly utility bills, an energy audit from a home inspection contractor should be the first step in the process.