Grant enables gray-to-green renovation

Posted July 28, 2012

By Scott Beveridge

DONORA A transit authority will use a $4 million federal grant to convert a building linked to America’s deadliest pollution disaster into the greenest building in Donora.

The Charleroi-based Mid Mon Valley Transit Authority will use the money to renovate a former U.S. Steel building and begin to retrofit its fleet to run on natural gas rather than diesel fuel, said Marc Roncone, the authority’s executive director.

The building dates to the 1920s and is among several remaining former steel buildings in Donora, where smokestack pollution contributed to the 1948 Donora smog that caused more than 20 deaths over Halloween weekend. The deaths became the impetus for the nation’s first clean air law.

“It’s going full circle,” Roncone said.

When upgraded, the building at Eighth Street and Galliffa Drive will boast such green technology as having solar panels on its roof, Roncone said.

The sprawling brick building will serve as a garage for the authority’s 32 buses that are serviced in a $7.7 million garage completed about two years ago on the property formerly owned by Middle Monongahela Industrial Development Association. That building is designed to recycle oil used by the buses for its heating system.

Work on the other garage had been delayed because of the Pennsylvania budget crisis in 2010. Roncone said the authority is still waiting for $996,000 in state funding before the project can move forward.

“It needs significant repairs,” he said.

Construction should begin in early 2013 and be completed by the end of that year, he said.

Its green elements are expected to earn the building federal Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification.

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