Philadelphia immigration center first pre-certified LEED platinum building in city

November 23, 2011

The Philadelphia office of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services will move into University City by the end of 2012. The center will be the city's first pre-certified Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum building, according to The Daily Pennsylvanian.

The city of Philadelphia is trying to become the epicenter for energy efficient building in the mid-Atlantic region, as increased efforts and resources have been injected into projects to help retrofit and modernize buildings in the area.

The Department of Energy has injected funding into an innovation hub for the development and design at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. The money was directed to a consortium of academic institutions, federal laboratories, global industry partners and economic development agencies as part of the Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster for Energy-Efficient Buildings (GPIC).

The problem that this effort seeks to address has to do with the energy expenditures that cities have across the country, specifically dealing with the level of consumption that can be attributed to buildings. Philadelphia currently spends more per square foot than the national average.

However, as the new immigration center for the city opens, a model for green and sustainable building will exist for other organizations in Philadelphia.

"The center is a great positive for existing and potential newcomers to University City and its constituents, and, of course, Philadelphia," Eugenie Birch, an urban studies professor from the University of Pennsylvania told the Pennsylvanian.

The proposed 97,000-square-foot, five-story building is pre-certified LEED because of the many green features that are use in the structure. The technology that was installed helped to limit the energy consumption and increase the sustainable nature of the property, according to the news source.

A park will exist on the roof, which will help collect and recycle rainwater in an effort to decrease the run-off for the building. The structure will also house an energy efficient heating system and will feature solar shading to help limit the electricity necessary for lighting, the Pennsylvanian reported.

Energy efficient technology and design can help to limit the consumption levels for commercial buildings. These structures account for 40 percent of the total energy usage in the U.S., a number that the DOE is trying to reduce through the development of innovation hubs like the GPIC.