Pine Street Neighborhood Revitalization, Commission on Economic Opportunity

Founded as coal-mining center, Hazleton, Pennsylvania, was just the third city in the US to establish a city-wide electricity grid in 1891–the same year the city was incorporated as a municipality. The Pine Street neighborhood is light-industrial area of two and three story masonry and steel buildings, close to downtown shopping and mass transit. The area had fallen out of use and is surrounded on three sides by lively residential blocks. To the north and east, the city blocks comprise small single-family homes with neighborhood recreation areas. To the west stand two to four story buildings of mixed use with commercial activity at street level and residential space above and Broad Street, Hazelton’s commercial center, lies two blocks to the south. Its location made the site ideal for neighborhood revitalization. Developed by the Housing Development Corp. of Northeastern Pennsylvania, the new Pine Street homes target a market of first-time homebuyers and empty nesters of all income levels. The three-bedroom Pine Street homes were designed with three things in mind: sustainability, affordability and universal access.

A first-of-its-kind

project for northeastern Pennsylvania, the Pine Street Neighborhood Revitalization encompasses a three-block area in which 26 new single-family homes were constructed. The project stands out for its use of smart growth ideas to take advantage of existing infrastructure and minimize energy costs. Within easy walking distance of the downtown’s shops, services, and mass transit, the location offered the potential of reducing automobile reliance. The project designers, the non-profit Design Coalition, Inc. of Madison, Wisconsin, were able to take advantage of existing power sources, water supplies, streets, and municipal services, such that the development would not require significant extensions of these services.

The new Pine Street homes–24 duplexes and 2 single family units, each with a stoop and porch–incorporate highly efficient heating, cooling, ventilation, lighting, and appliances. When energy efficient construction is paired with these features, homeowners can save about 30% energy costs savings over standard construction methods. As a renewable energy source, the southern-sloped roofs of the homes include photovoltaic systems connected to the grid through net metering. Weatherization brings significant savings for the homeowner in space heating. With the Energy Star technologies in these homes, space heating costs are projected to be 60% lower than for homes that follow the state building code. Pine Street residents will likely have annual energy expenditures of about $700. The weatherization features include insulated doors, recycled cellulose insulation, a continuous air barrier for building tightening, rigid foam insulation in the walls, thermally-broken insulated overall savings from duct leakage reduction would be $99,360. So, the simple investment return on duct replacement was 1.15.

The total project involved appliance replacement as well as weatherization. The project installed 29 15” ENERGY STAR refrigerators and17 18” ENERGY STAR refrigerators. The work also removed roof mounted evaporative coolers and gas furnaces located in interior closets and replaced with energy efficient roof mounted 13 SEER air conditioning gas heat package units including all new sealed duct system. The work included the electrical and plumbing repairs necessary to accommodate the new installations. The existing old duct system was used to provide for air exchange to relieve room pressures. The work also included the increase of attic insulation from R-11 to R-30 using blown cellulose. In addition, all incandescent light bulbs in the units were replaced by compact fluorescent light bulbs. Landscaping at the site was also upgraded to reduce water usage and facilitate maintenance.

Norton Circle residents were paying between $300 and $400 a month in utility bills. Weatherization should
cut these energy bills in half and may reduce them to one third of the prior amounts. Total project
cost was $337,420 with $95,732.80 coming from the Weatherization program and utility funds, an additional $21,000 from Arizona Public Service to cover refrigerators and the remaining balance
$220,687.20 came from the property owner, Maricopa County Housing Authority. About 700 homes are weatherized annually across the state.