City Homes For The Next 100 Years

In a historical neighborhood like East Liberty, many homes lack the energy-saving features of more updated, modern houses. Thanks to several green residential development projects, the neighborhood’s homes are becoming more sustainable and energy-efficient.

Zero-energy house
East Liberty Development, Inc. is partnering with West Penn Energy Solutions to rehab the home at 710 North St. Clair St., turning it into a zero-energy house that will actually produce more energy than it uses. WPES is serving as the contractor on this project, overseeing an energy-efficient retro-fit for the entire house.

In support of WPES, ELDI has raised funding for the implementation of this project as well as education and outreach. PurBlu Beverages, with The Sprout Fund, has provided a $1,000 grant to spread the word about the house throughout the region. ELDI provided a grant of a $5,000 through its East End Sustainability Project (funded by the Heinz Endowments) for the energy-efficient rehab.

Energy efficient prototype homes
In addition to this zero-energy house, ELDI has built six prototype homes, all twice as efficient as an Energy Star-rated residence. The high performance HVAC system, designed to circulate just the right amount of air, is a big contributor to each homes’ energy efficiency. Plenty of insulation also saves energy, keeping warm air in during the winter and out during the summer. Finally, homes are built using thermal bridging. This technique places stronger studs further apart, eliminating some of the cold air that can travel through the studs.

These homes bring new construction into the city, said ELDI Project Manager Eric Jester, and show suburban home builders that building within the city limits is indeed possible. So far, ELDI has sold three of the prototype homes, with a fourth in the works. ELDI has also received a signed agreement from a buyer to construct a new home on a vacant lot, following the prototype models.