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PGH House

A Feasibility Study for the Pittsburgh Green House

The housing market is one of the biggest construction sectors and carries great sway in our national economy. While green building practices have swept into the commercial markets, the residential markets are far more fragmented and it has been harder to bring sustainable ideas to scale in this market. The Pittsburgh Green House (PGH) was a partnership between Action Housing, the Green Building Alliance, and Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens to transform Pittsburgh’s urban residential market by providing a one-stop shop demonstration project for designers, builders and owners.

We helped distill the concept of the PGH house as an in-situ learning environment where contractors and homeowners can meet to learn about greening their homes. Through the generation of quick and diverse alternatives, we enabled the developers to find the match between the location & the educational goals of the project.

We designed the PGH with strong attention given to the varied audiences represented by the three partnering groups. The PGH provided tactile demonstrations, memorable spaces and the integration of information at many levels. The PGH was to be a starting place for those interested in learning how to apply sustainability practices in their homes and the homes of others—from basic weatherization services, storm water management, renewable energy installations, as well as integrated design concepts like zero energy design and construction. The PGH also developed an aesthetic and functional approach to the change in construction products over time. Long term strategies (such as a zero energy building envelope) were prioritized along with short term strategies (such as “velcro” systems) that would change more frequently.