CBEI proving its mission of energy use reduction at Philly’s Navy Yard

25Aug2014
BY Burns Mechanical IN Construction, Energy, Service

A retrofitted former US Navy recreation center serves as the new headquarters for CBEI. Photo credit www.cbei.psu.edu/

A retrofitted former US Navy recreation center serves as the new headquarters for CBEI. Photo credit www.cbei.psu.edu/

Just as Chip Kelly’s high-octane Eagles offense begins with brilliance on the basics – an uncompromising focus on attention to fundamental details – a local, federally funded research consortium hopes to achieve the same end by delivering superior building energy performance through everyday off-the-shelf systems.

As an advisory board member for Penn State’s PACE – Partnership for Achieving Construction Excellence – I recently enjoyed the opportunity to hear Dr. Martha Krebs speak at its annual advisory board meeting.  Krebs in 2013 was appointed senior scientist in Penn State College of Engineering and principal investigator and director of the Consortium for Building Energy Innovation (CBEI), which was created by the US Department of Energy in 2011.

A key CBEI goal is to cut energy use in small-to-medium commercial buildings by 50 percent by the year 2030. Small-to-medium buildings represent 95% of our nation’s building stock. To make meaningful change scalable, the thrust of the CBEI is to make best possible use of “state-of-the-shelf” technology rather than our industry tendency to focus predominantly on the leading edge while neglecting fundamental brilliance.

The CBEI will soon be putting its agenda of practicality to use in its new headquarters and classroom facilities in the Philadelphia Navy Yard.  The headquarters building for CBEI is a retrofitted 38,000 square-foot former U.S. Navy recreation center constructed during World War II that now houses the Penn State Center for Building Energy Science and Engineering.  The building is a showcase of energy-saving retrofit technologies.

The second building directly across the street, the Penn State Center for Building Energy Education and Innovation, is a newly constructed 25,000 square-foot conference center and classroom building that will be used to support development of energy efficiency businesses. The building demonstrates best practices in new construction including a green roof, gray water reuse system, and geothermal wells.

Will the CBEI be able to achieve more with less? Burns Mechanical will get a first-hand glimpse, at least through 2017, as we were awarded a three-year maintenance contract on the facilities through real estate services company Athenian Razak LLC.  Stay tuned for future updates.