Philadelphia innovation Hub sets lofty, yet realistic goals

October 8, 2012

The use of more efficient technology and products in commercial buildings in the U.S. is a goal of the Department of Energy and the Green Building Council. These agencies have tried to promote this type of efficiency through a number of efforts, one of them located in a famous navy yard in one of the oldest and most influential American cities.

The Energy Efficient Buildings Hub (EEB Hub) is headquartered in the Philadelphia Navy Yard, and this effort is helping to advance a number of goals in terms of adoption of efficient practices and products in the commercial real estate market.

According to Technically Philly, the staff of the EEB Hub recently oversaw an energy audit on one of the buildings at the headquarters – Building 101. Three different companies took part in the assessment and the results were weighed in order to achieve the highest level of efficiency for the structure.

"We’re uncovering that the rules of thumb in the [energy efficient] industry vary widely and strategies also vary widely, and that makes it very confusing to a building owner," Laurie Actman, the deputy director of the EEB Hub, told the news outlet. "We’re trying to come up with some rules of thumb for the owners so they can be more informed consumers of potential technology and services."

By testing the products and technology on the buildings at the navy yard, the EEB Hub is demonstrating how commercial properties in the Greater Philadelphia region can benefit from a similar retrofit or renovation.

The effort hopes to reduce energy use by 20 percent in the U.S. commercial real estate sector by 2020, and the momentum that has been achieved already is inspiring confidence among the leaders of the project.

"We’re starting to pick up momentum, engaging with the market and kind of creating strategies based on integrated technology that we can demonstrate to building owners," Actman told Technically Philly. "So we’re more on the getting-started-side than the getting-close-to-the-goal side."

The potential for buildings to reduce energy use is significant in the U.S., and renovation projects can range in size and effectiveness. Capital costs for these efforts are declining, according to AOL Energy, and the popularity of retrofits is likely to increase as the price continues to drop.