Lombardo Welcome Center
Pennsylvania's First Zero Energy Building
The Lombardo Welcome Center is the first building in Pennsylvania to be certified as a zero energy building by the International Living Future Institute and only 1 of about 100 zero energy buildings in the country. The unique building produces its own energy onsite through renewable energy sources and stands as a clear testament of Millersville’s commitment to sustainability and to our goal of pursuing carbon neutrality by 2040.
Reimagining What's Possible with Buildings
Buildings use energy to power lights, provide heat and air conditioning, and to run appliances, computers, and other devices. Typically, buildings pull most of that energy from the electricity grid, but zero energy buildings, like the Lombardo Welcome Center, generate their own energy, onsite from renewable sources.
To achieve zero energy certification, the Lombardo Welcome Center needed to generate all of its own energy for an entire year. During our first year, we didn't just generate enough energy, we generated 75% more than we needed, making the Lombardo Welcome Center one of the 5 most positive energy buildings in the country. Check out the New Buildings Institute's zero energy building database to see more zero energy buildings.
We're continuing to track how much energy we make and use and you can follow along. Click here to check out our energy dashboard, which shows how much energy we're making real-time!
Expand the sections below to learn about specific technologies that help make the Lombardo Welcome Center unique.
Energy from Above: Photovoltaics
Solar Panels Supply Electric Power
Photovoltaic (PV) panels convert the sun's energy directly into electricity using semiconductor materials. The Lombardo Welcome Center has three types of PV panels, roof-mount, ground-mount, and solar glass. The largest of these is a roof-mount PV array covering the majority of the Lombardo Welcome Center's roof. In total, the roof array should generate about 175,000 kWh of electricity annually. That should meet all of the building's electricity needs, but as an educational building, the Lombardo Center also provides an opportunity to demonstrate other technologies. That includes a ground mount array located behind the building, allowing students and visitors to get a close look at the technology. The ground-mount array has a dual-axis tracker that allows it to follow the sun over the course of the day. The ground-mount array should generate about 11,000 kWh of electricity annually. Finally, the Lombardo Center has solar glass along the exterior, south-facing wall. The solar glass should generate about 8,000 kWh of electricity annually. The ground mount array and solar glass provide a broader understanding of available technologies while producing additional electricity in case the building needs it or perhaps even making it a net positive energy building that can share electricity with other campus buildings.
Energy from Below: Geothermal
Geothermal Heat Pumps Provide Heating and Cooling
Geothermal heat pumps use a physical property of the earth to their advantage. While Pennsylvania outside air temperatures can swing from below 0 to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit over the course of the year, the temperature just a few feet underground stays a relatively constant 54 degrees. That means that in the summer the ground is cooler than the air and during the winter the ground is probably warmer than the air. A geothermal heating system takes advantage of this by running pipes filled with an antifreeze solution through the ground to pick up heat from the relatively warmer ground during the cold winter months or dump heat from the relatively cooler ground during the hot summer months. This heat exchange between the ground and the building means that the building's heat pump needs to do less work (consume less energy) to bring the outside air to a comfortable indoor temperature.
The Lombardo Welcome Center has a vertical loop geothermal heat system that consists of 20 wells located underground in the rear of the building. The above image shows pipe being run through one of the 20 wells.
Zero Energy starts with saving energy
EPA Green Power Partner
The Lombardo Welcome Center at Millersville University is a partner in EPA's Green Power Partnership. Established in 2001, the Green Power Partnership seeks to protect human health and the environment by increasing organizations' voluntary green power use to advance the American market for green power and the development of those renewable electricity sources. By generating all of its own energy and sharing the technologies with our students and the community the Lombardo Welcome Center aligns directly with the values and intent of this partnership.
The Positive Energy Fund
Turning Building Energy into People EnergyThe solar panels and other sustainable features of the Lombardo Welcome Center have already been paid for through the generous contributions of donors, Samuel and Dena Lombardo, the Steinman Foundation and the Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority. As a result, all the energy the building makes results in cost savings, which Millersville is paying forward to support students who want to contribute positively to the local community. Learn more about the Positive Energy Fund.