House in East Liberty to teach about safety and savings on energy

December 12, 2011 12:00 am
  • Christov Churchward, a student Conservation Association Fellow working with ACTION-Housing demonstrates different water conservation shower heads in the bathroom of ACTION-Housing's Pittsburgh Green House (PGH) in East Liberty. The house will be used as a training site for homeowners and contractors to learn how to make their homes more energy efficient.
    Christov Churchward, a student Conservation Association Fellow working with ACTION-Housing demonstrates different water conservation shower heads in the bathroom of ACTION-Housing's Pittsburgh Green House (PGH) in East Liberty. The house will be used as a training site for homeowners and contractors to learn how to make their homes more energy efficient.
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An affordable mortgage isn't the only thing that makes a home affordable, and ACTION-Housing will use an old East Liberty house to show people what they can do to spend less on a place to live.

A regional provider of weatherization assistance to 33,000 low-income households, ACTION-Housing has bought and stripped down a 110-year-old three-story house to train contractors, home owners and renters of all incomes how to make their homes safer while reducing energy use and waste.

The Pittsburgh Green House, at 308 N. Sheridan Ave., will be open to the public in mid-January, with programs, classes and tours to follow.

Representatives of numerous environmental organizations said they know of no other real-house workshop in the area.

"We have a robust education program," said Lindsay Ruprecht, ACTION-Housing's sustainable community development coordinator. "This house will be an extension of that."

ACTION-Housing bought the house from East Liberty Development Inc. in June for $65,000. The house had accommodated four apartments until spring. The last renovation appears to have been done in the late '70s or early '80s.

During the summer and through the fall, crews gutted the house and did a stripped-down renovation to create kitchen and bathroom classrooms, a resource library and demonstration areas where people can compare storm windows, test appliances, learn how programmable thermostats work and see how reversing the direction of a ceiling fan can help spread warm air in winter.

The house will have a classroom for PowerPoint discussions and online file sharing classes, video instructions and talks on such topics as green cleaning methods and how to find a home's energy leaks. It also will maintain a data base of resources.

"We wanted to give people a deep, hands-on education," Ms. Ruprecht said. The house will remain stripped down so methods can be repeated class after class. "We'll be blowing insulation and taking it back out, and people will be crawling around in the attic doing all the things you do when you're working on an old house," she said.

Diana Nelson Jones: djones@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1626. Read her blog City Walkabout at www.post-gazette.com/citywalk .
First Published 2012-02-09 16:02:07
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