PHILADELPHIA — A collaboration of researchers, manufacturers, and economic development officials are launching a new demonstration project for smart grid, net zero energy buildings called the GridSTAR Center at The Navy Yard in Philadelphia.

Spearheaded by Penn State with support from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC), the GridSTAR Net Zero Energy Demonstration Structure is the first phase of the GridSTAR Center and will serve as a hub for workforce training, building performance testing, energy management research, and smart microgrid modernization deployments. The structure is slated for completion this summer.

“The GridSTAR Net Zero Energy Demonstration Structure will create a live, interactive demonstration of electrical systems technologies, serve as a hub for hands-on education and training, and provide a rich infrastructure for data and research,” said David Riley, project leader and Penn State associate professor of architectural engineering. “In leveraging the talented pool of Pennsylvania-based public and private sector leaders, the GridSTAR Net Zero Energy Demonstration Structure offers tremendous potential to further drive the adoption of energy efficiency, solar energy, and energy storage systems in our residential communities.”

The Demonstration Structure will use energy-efficient construction techniques as well as energy generation, management, and coordination within a host microgrid. Using modular construction, the wall systems for the structure have been assembled by Simplex Industries at its climate-controlled Scranton, Pa., facility. A team of building product manufacturers is supporting the project through product donations and technical expertise, including:

• Photovoltaic roofing, fiberglass and spray foam insulation, foundation drainage and waterproofing systems, insulated vinyl siding, and gypsum board from CertainTeed Corp.;

• State-of-the-art, wireless lighting controls, motorized shades, and occupancy sensors from Lutron Electronics;

• Off-grid power distribution equipment and energy efficient LED lighting from Eaton;

• Solar design and advanced inverter/battery solutions provided by Solar Grid Storage; and

• Wireless SmartSite™ outdoor lighting systems from Amerlux that will broadcast information about the project to passersby.

PIDC, the master developer of The Navy Yard, provided the microgrid infrastructure and managerial collaboration in partnership with the GridSTAR Center.

The highly instrumented building will be connected to a microgrid test loop within the larger unregulated microgrid of The Navy Yard. Components will be able to be installed and removed using “plug and play” adaptations that will also be connected to the PJM electricity market and operate in response to real-time price signals.

On-site construction of the structure and interior finishing will continue through the end of June. Once complete, the structure will be used as a research facility, a classroom laboratory, and a showcase for ultra energy efficient living. The additional phases of the GridSTAR Center will include a solar training facility.

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Publication date: 5/20/2013

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