PennDesign's MEBD Program Completes First Studio

August 9, 2011

This summer marked the first studio for PennDesign’s new Master in Environmental Building Design (MEBD) program, which challenged students to design a high performance building for Philadelphia’s unique waterfront development at the Navy Yard. The studio, led by Assistant Professor of Architecture Franca Trubiano, aimed to synthesize the skills and knowledge acquired by students in the first two semesters of the MEBD program and apply them to projects in an effort to maximize the goals of net zero design.

The Navy Yard, a multilayered environment with a rich history, a valuable waterfront, and a wealth of significant buildings on their own energy grid, has become of GPIC, the Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster for Innovation in Energy-Efficient Buildings. GPIC is one of three US Department of Energy Innovation Hubs dedicated to improving energy efficiency and reducing carbon emissions of new and existing buildings as well as stimulating private investment and creating quality jobs in the Greater Philadelphia region. The MEBD studio’s objective was to design a high performance mixed-use building complex to house GPIC’s administrative offices in addition to commercial retail space and child day care facilities.

In proposing and testing a range of energy-free architectural design principles, students were tasked with developing both a design process and a building project that achieved net zero energy and carbon emissions. Students adhered to the framework of The 2030 Challenge, an initiative launched by the American Institute of Architects (AIA)that advocates all new building projects to consume 60% less energy than comparative buildings in their regions by 2010, and be entirely carbon neutral by 2030.

The Master in Environmental Building Design (MEBD) is a specialized, post-professional degree developed to train architects in the new skills and knowledge required for environmental design and especially in the design techniques with which those skills must be integrated into the practice of architecture. The one-year course of study includes course work on building performance simulation, integrated building design, building envelopes and systems, lighting, daylighting, and the theory and practice of environmental design.


Penn’s urban campus has over 2 miles of dedicated bike lanes, 5,050 bike parking spots, and 2 free bike repair stations.

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