The Navy Yard – Building through Sustainability & Resiliency

by Navy Yard
April 21, 2023

What has made the Navy Yard the coolest and most successful commercial redevelopments of an old military instillation are the continued commitments to sustainability & resiliency. This has been the mission since PIDC began redevelopment nearly 20 years ago and will remain true through future redevelopment plans.

The Navy Yard is dedicated to providing a sustainable, efficient, and green work environment for the approximately 150 companies and 15,000 employees that call the Navy Yard home. These companies range from industrial shipbuilding and maintenance to high-tech, live-saving breakthroughs in medical technology. The Navy Yard is a place for businesses from any sector to thrive in a sustainable fashion.

“In redeveloping the Navy Yard, we wanted to create a campus built on a foundation of sustainability and resiliency,” said Kate McNamara, PIDC’s senior vice president at the Navy Yard. “We look for innovative and industry-leading ways to incorporate those elements throughout our 1,200-acre site. Things like adaptive reuse and modernization of historic buildings, ensuring new construction projects are LEED certified, creating green spaces that are welcoming to and designed to reduce stormwater runoff, and providing equitable access to green transit options like Navy Yard buses, Indego bike share, car share, and EV chargers.”

Because of the sustainability and resiliency efforts at the Navy Yard, PIDC received the Industry Innovation/Corporate Sustainability Award, which honors environmental excellence, leadership, and accomplishment, from the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC).

“The recognition from PEC reinforced our longstanding commitment to responsible redevelopment,” said McNamara. “At PIDC, our strategic framework lays out a plan to drive growth to every corner Philadelphia, and sustainability and resiliency is one of the three integral and intersecting lenses we look through to advance development and growth in balance with the environment to support present and future generations.”

As PIDC and Ensemble/Mosaic embark on their partnership for the transformative new phase of Navy Yard development that is slated to bring in more than 12,000 new jobs and more than $6 billion of new investment over the next 20 years, sustainability and resiliency are paramount to the success of that plan.

Because the Navy Yard is located along the Delaware River, climate change and a rise in the water level must be fully considered. In the plan, maximizing resiliency through raising vulnerable portions of the site – elevating buildings and infrastructure, incorporating innovative stormwater infrastructure including canals and swales along the streets on the east side of the campus to convey stormwater, and using dry ponds, green roofs, and resilient landscaping and trees are at the forefront of planning to mitigate the impact of climate change and prevent flooding in this new community.

The plan also demonstrates sustainability – which has always been a hallmark of the Navy Yard – through the pursuit of Philadelphia’s first LEED Gold Neighborhood Development of scale, a program which creates more sustainable, well-connected neighborhoods, looking beyond the scale of buildings to consider entire communities.

Other sustainability and resiliency highlights in the plan include smart, interconnected system linking multiple transit modes; parking & mobility hubs; expanded transit, including autonomous; enhanced bike & pedestrian amenities; evaluating sustainable power alternatives; pursuing pilot projects for advanced energy management (e.g., building-to-grid tech); and integrated green stormwater management.

Example of beauty and function of stormwater management built into a pedestrian-only canal street.
2022 Navy Yard Plan example of addressing climate change and sea level rise through raising roads, elevating future construction sites and infrastructure.

More information about sustainability and resiliency in the future development plans at the Navy Yard can be found at in Section 5 of the Navy Yard Plan.


The Navy Yard is powered by a 44-megawatt unregulated electric grid, which makes it one of the largest unregulated electric distribution systems on the East Coast. This makes it an ideal setting for smart grid research and for demonstrating and deploying energy-efficient technologies, energy generation and storage, and microgrid controls and distribution.

The Navy Yard is also working to continue to strategically install EV chargers around campus.

There are more than 1,200 solar panels in the community solar power system that allows companies at the Navy Yard the opportunity to share the benefits of solar power without installing panels on their own property. The Navy Yard Community Solar project was the first of its kind in Pennsylvania. It produces 930,000 of kWh of clean, reliable, and cost-effective power per year.

Solar roof top on an adaptively reused building.

Partnering with DVRPC, PennDOT, Perrone Robotics, AECOM, and Drexel University to deploy Pennsylvania’s first AV shuttle at the Navy Yard in 2023. The zero-emissions shuttle will provide visitors and employees with transportation services within the Philadelphia Navy Yard and to SEPTA’s NRG Station located at Broad Street and Pattison Avenue.

The pilot AV shuttle is funded by the Travel Options Program, a grant program of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC). Not only will this shuttle provide the Navy Yard’s employees and visitors with additional safe and sustainable transit access around campus and connecting to the region via the subway connection, but it also showcases Pennsylvania and the city of Philadelphia as a leader in the latest technologies and innovation.

We are also developing a plan to transition the current fleet of Navy Yard Transit shuttles into electric-powered shuttles, which will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

AV shuttle pilot at the Navy Yard and current Navy Yard Transit Shuttle that connects the Navy Yard SEPTA’s NRG Station and Center City Philadelphia.

PIDC and several private development partners have renovated many of the former Marine and Navy officers’ quarters and historic buildings. These now provide beautiful, historic, and eclectic office space to a wide variety of commercial tenants – examples include URBN Corporate HQ and the reuse of former Marine Barracks and Admiral Quarters.

Building B3, gathering and event space at the URBN office campus, Philadelphia, PA. Architecture by New Studio Architecture.

PIDC requires the design and construction of high-performance, sustainable buildings at the Navy Yard, primarily through LEED (Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design) certification, the rating system created by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC).

In total, 85% of buildings constructed since 2006 are LEED certified buildings, including Philadelphia’s first developer-owned LEED Platinum building built in 2005 (One Crescent Drive) and Philadelphia’s first double LEED Platinum building built in 2013 (Five Crescent Drive).

One Crescent Drive – Philadelphia’s first developer-owned LEED Platinum building built in 2005.
Five Crescent Drive – Philadelphia’s first double LEED Platinum building built in 2013

Several Navy Yard buildings also include green roofs as a way to manage stormwater and reduce energy costs. 2500 League Island Boulevard, one of the Navy Yard’s newest life science buildings, has a 60,000 square foot green roof, and Five Crescent Drive has 40 percent of its roof covered with vegetation.

2500 League Island Boulevard getting its 60,000 square foot green roof installed (Photo by LiveRoof).
Aerial view of Five Crescent Drive with 40 percent of its roof covered in vegetation (Image from Google Earth).


We have worked closely with the Philadelphia Water Department’s Watersheds Initiative, as well as piloted the use of innovative stormwater management systems. Examples of demonstrated improvements include rain gardens, sidewalk and landscape buffers, and drainage swales, all of which prevent considerable levels of runoff from reaching city sewers.

Current example of stormwater management infrastructure.


The Navy Yard has more than 20 acres of parks and a mile of waterfront trail. These open spaces provide opportunities for employees and visitors stretch their legs, expand their minds, and enjoy the outdoors.

The Navy Yard is also a certified Level-1 arboretum (certified by Arbnet in 2018). With more than 2,000 trees already established, it demonstrates the Navy Yard’s commitment to maintaining and establishing public greenspace, sustainable landscapes, and resiliency.

As one of only six arboretums in Philadelphia, it is especially important that the Navy Yard preserves and expands greenspaces at the Navy Yard. By building upon and sustaining green spaces, the Navy Yard can assure that future generations have a place to appreciate nature in an urban environment, while at the same time developing the Navy Yard to create equitable growth, jobs, and accessibility for decades to come.

Central Green has one multiple awards for its design and incorporation of stormwater management features.