Philadelphia University’s Engineering and Design Institute and the Green Building Alliance have received a $1.5 million state grant to fund the second year of the Pennsylvania Green Growth Partnership.
“This latest grant allows us to build on the success of the first year of the partnership to promote the fast-growing green building industry,” said Rob Fleming, associate professor of Architecture and co-director of the Engineering and Design Institute (pictured right). “Our goal is to make Pennsylvania the national leader in green design and building and help to improve the planet’s ecology and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.”
The partnership was established last year with a $2 million grant to promote economic development through the design and construction of green buildings and the development of energy-saving building materials, products and technologies. The partnership also is charged with conducting research and providing education on sustainability as well as green building design, technology, materials and practices.
“Sustainable design is not just about saving the world – it is about job growth and economic development,” said Chris Pastore, professor of Engineering and co-director of EDI. “Green buildings help us reduce our dependence on foreign oil, reduce the cost of operations for business owners and citizens and provide new business growth opportunities for the commonwealth.”
For example, the Engineering and Design Institute is working with a regional firm that builds houses at their factory to make their practices and products more environmentally friendly. The off-site building industry, in which segments of buildings – including homes, schools and commercial buildings – are built at the factory and then shipped to the building location, is growing rapidly, Fleming said. The benefits of factory building include reduced construction worker travel costs, better quality control and less waste. “This is a good way to optimize environmental standards and the energy-efficiency of building design,” Fleming said.
The latest grant is part of a new round of $5.2 million in grants announced by Gov. Edward G. Rendell to grow the state’s alternative energy industry, help universities and attract and keep businesses in the state.
“Universities are the largest employers of any industry sector in Pennsylvania, while the renewable and alternative energy sector represents the fastest growing industry in the world,” said Dennis Yablonsky, secretary of Pennsylvania’s Department of Community and Economic Development, which awarded the grants. “Our goal is to use our resources strategically to ensure these and other emerging industries have the tools to succeed.”
The Engineering and Design Institute, established in 2000, focuses on the development of innovative green building materials, assists with the design of sustainable buildings and provides community outreach and educational programs for students and those in the building field. EDI is the lead grant partner for the eastern part of the state.
In addition to the two lead partners, the Green Growth Partnership also includes Temple, Villanova, Carnegie Mellon and Penn State universities, the University of Pittsburgh, the Delaware Valley Green Building Council and Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania.