By Adam Brandolph

Lucy de Barbaro is months away from moving into her new home in Squirrel Hill, but she's counting the savings she'll reap in utility bills.

De Barbaro, a software engineer at Alcatel Lucent, and her husband, Ayres Freitas, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh, expect to save up to 90 percent on those bills by building their duplex along Fernwald Road to extreme energy-efficient — so-called passive house — standards.

“We make a lot of personal choices that consider environmental impacts,” said de Barbaro, who drives a hybrid car.

Passive houses, popular in Europe for years, are built around the idea of making buildings airtight, super-insulated and energy efficient so they don't allow warm air to escape in the winter or cold air to escape in the summer. Signature features often include thick outside walls and multi-layered roofs, triple-pane windows and a south-facing orientation.

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By Diana Nelson Jones

Pittsburgh is host to the eighth annual North American Passive House Conference next week and is bringing in U.S. Housing and Urban Development secretary Shaun Donovan for the opening keynote address.
 
The conference is October 15-19 at the Omni William Penn Hotel, 530 William Penn Place. Two days of pre-conference technical workshops begin Tuesday, Oct. 15. On Wednesday, from 5:30-7:30, a reception will open the poster session and exhibit hall.
 

A largely vacant stretch of Second Avenue in Hazelwood would be filled with music, youth programming, and commercial and residential space as part of a proposed makeover designed to complement the $1 billion former LTV coke works redevelopment.

Under the plan, the vacant Spahr Building, which was a former G. C. Murphy's store, would be transformed into programming and performance space for Hazelwood's faith-based Center of Life organization.

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The Urban Redevelopment Authority board Thursday authorized entering into exclusive negotiations with ACTION-Housing and Telesis Corp., which have partnered to buy the Spahr Building on Second Avenue in Hazelwood and create a cultural center for the faith-based neighborhood nonprofit Center of Life and a restaurant and/or catering business.

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By Tim Schooley 

One of Hazelwood’s key community and cultural organizations may soon have a new home in a proposed development to help kick start the revitalization of the neighborhood’s long-struggling Second Avenue business district.

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