He said if the design of the house can forestall someone's move into a care home or nursing facility for two years, the savings will be equal to the cost of the house. He said the for-profit side of Blueroof, Blueroof Solutions Inc., is building homes for about $100 a square-foot, or $100,000 for a modest, 1,000-square-foot home for a single person or a couple. That house includes the basic technology like the alarm system with video cameras and the phone system.
"The Internet accessibility doesn't add more than a couple thousand [dollars] to the total," he said.
The model house is different from the houses that will be built for people to occupy. For instance, there is a research area in the basement that will be used by students and professors from Penn State, Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh. The living area is often the site of meetings for the Blueroof staff, and the second floor has office space. Mr. Bertoty said the house may be sold someday and a new model built, but right now it is the headquarters and laboratory for the nonprofit organization.
Mr. Bertoty said he hopes that Blueroof will also add a layer of security to McKeesport as well, by diversifying the economy as the town rebuilds, so that if one economic sector in McKeesport takes a hit, the entire economy won't be hurt as it was when the steel business collapsed.
And, with Pennsylvania's strength of having more companies manufacturing homes than anywhere else in the nation, Blueroof's work in McKeesport may be one of the pieces that help secure the local economy.
So far, the associated for-profit company that is the building arm of Blueroof has constructed fewer than a handful of homes, but firm officials are studying a request for proposals from the McKeesport Housing Authority to build handicapped accessible public housing units.
For more on Blueroof, visit: www.bluerooftechnologies.com.