Over fifty Penn State students, faculty and staff visited The Navy Yard in Philadelphia last week for Energy and Sustainability day, a Schreyer Honors College Shaping the Future Summit event. Fourteen Berks students and faculty from a variety of academic disciplines were in attendance.
The event was hosted at Penn State’s GridSTAR Center, an innovative research environment that focuses on the future of energy efficiency, renewable energy and smart grid technologies.
The GridSTAR (Smart Training and Application Resource) Center is coordinated by Penn State’s Department of Architectural Engineering and is located on The Navy Yard’s campus.
“Penn State is fortunate to be a part of the redevelopment of The Navy Yard, as it will offer our students excellent opportunities for learning and research about sustainability,” said David Riley, professor of architectural engineering at Penn State and director of the GridSTAR Center.
Participants were given a tour of The Navy Yard and Penn State’s facilities after an introduction from Riley and other Navy Yard leaders.
The tour included a visit to a smart house for demonstrations of smart grid technologies, including solar panels and an innovative energy storage system. This system regulates the use of energy for heating and air-conditioning to reduce costs through a specialized control system. The smart house was a favorite among students.
“It was very interesting to see the actual equipment installed and operational,” said Chris Brendel (senior-communication arts and sciences). “The idea of a smart grid automatically adjusting the temperature of the house and determining when appliances run when electric is cheapest…that was probably most interesting to me.”
Lewis found the smart house technologies to be interesting as well. “It’s something that can make a significant impact on our environment and our energy usage as a culture, if it gets adopted by the mainstream,” said Lewis.
Students also enjoyed aspects of the Navy Yard outside Penn State’s spectrum, which included lunch at Urban Outfitters’ headquarters and an array of military shipcraft.
Though some students were unaware of Penn State’s presence in the Navy Yard, many found it to be a positive surprise.
“I think it’s very important that Penn State is working with the Navy Yard, and I really hope that their partnership will help get students interested in sustainable development,” said Brendel.