PHILADELPHIA — An esteemed panel of energy-efficiency aficionados recently met inside Philadelphia’s Navy Yard for Danfoss’s 18th EnVisioneering Symposium, “Building Blueprint for a Clean Energy Future.” The Oct. 25 event analyzed existing facility retrofits and discussed how evolving HVACR technology may be utilized on site, and across the world, today and in the future.

The Navy Yard

Philadelphia’s Navy Shipyard is recognized as the country’s first naval shipyard, with origins dating back to 1776. The Navy officially closed the shipyard in 1995.

Today, the 1,200-acre site has been transformed into a booming urban development that houses the Department of Energy’s Energy Efficient Buildings Hub (EEB).

In addition to the EEB, the shipyard encompasses a 120-business commerce campus employing 10,000 employees in office, industrial, manufacturing, and research and development.

The EEB, an initiative of the Obama administration, offers government a unique test ground for energy-efficiency retrofits which representatives hope will re-energize the future through job creation and economic growth.


The EEB, which opened in February 2011, has enveloped a dual mission of improving energy efficiency in buildings and promoting regional economic growth and job creation.

The project, funded through a $25 million annual budget, assumes a goal of 20 percent reduction in energy use across the U.S. commercial building sector by 2020. To reach this goal, EEB staff are concentrating on accelerating the adoption of advanced energy retrofits of average-sized commercial buildings.

Settled inside the The Navy Yard’s EEB headquarters, Danfoss’s EnVisioneering Symposium’s attendees and presenters discussed energy-efficiency retrofit solutions, and examined how the EEB is leading by example.

Ultimately, the EEB is aiming to identify the best data collection strategy, develop best data practices, provide education and tools to building owners, and facilitate new ventures nationwide. This is accomplished through a building sciences master plan that branches out to include modeling and simulation, energy informatics, intelligent operations, and energy systems.

EEB leaders are using the Navy Yard as an adequate living laboratory.

The Navy Yard’s Building 14 was selected as an HVAC controls test lab. Thermal comfort is maintained using five zoned air-handling units with variable-speed fans. A water-cooled central chiller plant provides chilled water to all air handlers for cooling, and gas boilers supply hot water for heating. A model-predictive control (MPC) serves as a dynamic system model and an optimization algorithm to predict future behavior of a plant. The MPC automatically makes decisions based on control inputs, minimizing a certain cost function. The test MPC in Building 14 demonstrated an average 15 percent energy reduction through the cooling season.

Another test site, Building 101, includes more than 1,500 data points that can be reviewed every 60 seconds, making it one of the most highly instrumented commercial buildings in the country.

Since its opening, the EEB has secured a memorandum of understanding from ASHRAE, a data and benchmarking partnership with the Institute for Market Transformation, and policy commission participation with the Alliance to Save Energy, as it strives to achieve its 20 percent by 2020 energy-reduction goal.

“The Navy Yard is commonly recognized as a city inside a city. Our attitude centers on sustainability and our goal was to create a business model that relies and functions alone on self-sustainability,” said Will Agate, vice president, Navy Yard Management and Development, Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp. “We’re always thinking, what is the most cost-effective way and efficient way to deal with our challenges for the city of Philadelphia, and how can we use these advances as a tool for the much broader market?”

Local Impact, Worldwide Ramifications

According to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), the U.S. ranks ninth of 12 global economies in terms of their energy efficiency. EnVisioneering Symposium attendees strongly believe the nation must improve upon this ranking.

“Compared to other developed countries around the world, we’re far behind in energy efficiency for our buildings,” said Rep. Chaka Fattah, D-Pa., at the event. “Retrofitting was a $54 billion industry in 2010, and it will grow to a $150 billion industry in 2015. It is important that we continue to move our country forward through this initiative.”

The pharmaceutical industry spends about 19 percent of sales on research and development. Aerospace spends about 12 percent; computers industry, 8 percent; and automotive, 2 percent.

The energy sector spends about 0.3 percent of sales. A much larger investment is needed, said attending experts.

“We view this as market failure,” said Dr. Paul Hallacher, director of Research Program Development, Pennsylvania State University. “This is justification for government intervention on energy research and development. If this country is serious about solving its energy problem, more needs to be done.”

Recent legislation passed in Philadelphia will require buildings larger than 50,000 square feet in size to disclose annual energy and water usage as determined through the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) manager tool. Energy submission deadline is June 1, 2013.

“You can’t manage what you don’t measure. We feel this will accelerate the local market because it will make building owners more aware of their energy profiles,” said Laurie Actman, deputy director, EEB Hub. Actman said she is hopeful this type of transparency will be considered nationwide.

“There will soon be a data repository of benchmarking available, and that’s great for us as we’ll be able to research that data and pursue the most successful strategies in use,” she said. “It’s a market acceleration tool, provides valuable research and data, and we’re very excited about it.”

Hallacher listed numerous steps the industry can consider to work toward a solution.

“As a nation, we need to adopt strategies to accelerate market adoption. This includes public policies, codes and standards, and working with the financial industry, government sector to tackle the problems that are behavioral,” said Hallacher. “We also need to educate the building industry so that there are skilled workers available to perform energy-efficient solutions, and making sure that people are aware of the opportunities that are available.”

A Valuable Experience

Eugene Smithart, director of systems and solutions, Trane, said he was impressed that the presenters all stressed the importance of communication, creation, and validation.

“We can always communicate better to building owners, and the industry always needs to create more proven, documented ideas,” he said. “One of the greatest ideas we have is to invest in energy conservation. We need to document that, we need that understood, and it has to be believed by the people of this world. We have to validate the value of efficiency.”

Richard Sweetser, president, Exergy Partners, said no one can do it alone and that cooperation will be absolutely necessary to move the industry, and the nation, forward.

“There seems to be a movement to find a way to create a standard, metric, or movement toward system integration,” he said. “We need to work together to get that done.

“In the marketplace, there are wonderful partners to work with, and they’ll help. Disclosure laws will help, but we also need to get ahead of this thing and create standards to follow.”

Publication date: 12/3/2012