Kevin and Darlee Martell have been living in this brownstone for the past year, just one block from where their three children were born. If it were any other city, the Martells would have owned lots of property, but they have always wanted to live in a green home. So they built a green-energy roof that’s big enough to bear their three kids’ college expenses and to act as a living wind farm.
The Martells see their project as a wise investment.
The Martells live in a neighborhood that has become something of a green epicenter in recent years: It’s close to major infrastructure like an old regional highway, a river-barge hub, and a local baseball stadium. At the same time, though, it’s not widely known or often talked about for its burgeoning green economy. That’s why the Martells decided to give the building, which they’ve nicknamed “Rough Night,” a go. They estimate that their efforts have been a net positive for Pittsburgh’s transportation and energy infrastructure, allowing them to save money on energy and greenhouse gas emissions.
Anyone who has ever visited Western Pennsylvania recently would know that its charm is more than just its road system and bridge. For its role in shaping the region, Pittsburgh’s Greenside could make its case for a status as a green icon.
The Martells constructed a passive solar house using a fabricated 7-millimeter arc reactor, a hard-wearing material made from recycled aluminum foil. They placed some of the water on top, and the wires run in such a way that nothing can escape from the roof.
The solar cells, and the materials and construction in general, are reusable by splitting water into hydrogen gas and sodium hydroxide to create electricity. The proprietary reactor materials are low-priced and are thought to be recyclable.
The system is now in use by a Michigan family and serves as an example of how a building may allow for a thriving community.