DOE’s Next Energy Innovation Hub: Energy-Efficient Buildings at Penn State

The DOE’s latest Energy Innovation Hub will be led by Penn State.

Penn State


The Department of Energy’s Energy Innovation Hub triad is now complete. The first, an Oak Ridge National Lab-led hub bent on building better nuclear reactors, is already underway. And last month, the DOE introduced an Energy Innovation Hub–the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis–with the singular goal of developing a solar energy fuel conversion system through artificial photosynthesis and bringing it to commercialization. The third hub, the Energy-Efficient Building Systems Design Hub, was announced today.

Led by Penn State, the latest hub will receive up to $122 million over the next five years to develop technology that makes buildings more energy efficient. Located at the Philadelphia Navy Yard Clean Energy campus, the hub will bring together researchers from the government and academic institutions, including Carnegie Mellon University, Princeton University,
Rutgers University, the University of
Pennsylvania, and Virginia Tech.

The DOE’s third Energy Innovation Hub is perhaps the most ambitious–the first two have concrete goals, while increasing build energy efficiency is a more nebulous endgame. The DOE describes Penn State’s goals as follows:


The mission of this Energy Innovation Hub is to research, develop
and demonstrate highly efficient building components, systems, and
models which are applicable to both retrofit and new construction…These technologies include computer simulation and design tools to
enable integrated project teams of architects, engineers, contractors
and building operators to work collaboratively on retrofit, renovation
and new building design projects; advanced combined heat and power
(CHP) systems; building-integrated photovoltaic systems for energy
generation; advanced HVAC systems with integrated indoor air quality
management; and sensor and control networks to monitor building
conditions and optimize energy use.

In other words, Penn State will probably need more than $122 million to really get this thing going. Still, we’re fans of the innovation hub idea. Putting a bunch of big brains in a room and offering up plentiful cash and resources is a great way to make things happen.

Ariel Schwartz can be reached on Twitter or by email.

About the author

Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more