Steven Chu's support of green energy shifts to innovation hubs

November 21, 2011

The support that U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu has provided for green energy is likely to leave a lasting impact on the industry. He has worked with professionals around the country to try and promote a switch to more efficient sources of energy and to develop research hubs for the development of this technology.

According to Forbes, in the past two years Chu has orchestrated the most significant public investment in energy innovation in the history of the country. He has put some of this funding into projects like the Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster for Energy-Efficient Buildings (GPIC).

This innovation hub uses $130 million in funding from the Department of Energy (DOE) in the form of federal grants, as the money is directed to a team of researchers led by Pennsylvania State University.

Forbes reported that the DOE described the development of the innovation hubs as a more effective way to research and develop technology for energy efficient buildings, as it combines ideas from academia, public groups and private companies.

"The Department’s Energy Innovation Hubs are helping to advance promising areas of energy science and engineering from the earliest stages of research to the point of commercialization where technologies can move to the private sector by bringing together leading scientists to collaborate on critical energy challenges," according to the organization.

The work that Chu and his team have done is outlined in a report given by the DOE, as they highlight specific work at projects like the GPIC and individual sectors of energy efficiency.

According to the report, the DOE has set a goal of making commercial buildings 20 percent more efficient within a decade, as this could reduce business owners' energy bills by up to $40 billion per year.

The DOE outlined the total energy use that comes from commercial buildings, roughly 40 percent, with the majority of this coming from lighting in these structures and space heating.

This is why the DOE designated a specific hub for energy efficient buildings, as the consolidation of resources and innovative thinking into one site will help the organization move forward in a more efficient manner.

"The Energy Innovation Hubs aim to develop innovation through a unique approach, where scientists and engineers from many disciplines work together to overcome the scientific barriers of development," said the DOE. "In this environment, they can accomplish greater feats more quickly than they would separately."