Pittsburgh Project

Pictured from left to right: Dr. Bopaya Bidanda (Swanson); Ms. Kristy Bronder (Katz);
Dr. John C. Camillus (Katz); Dr. John Wallace (School of Social Work) 


In many respects, Pittsburgh’s Homewood neighborhood is emblematic of the plight of the American inner city. Despite being centrally located in “America’s Most Livable City,” Homewood residents — 94 percent of whom are black — lack access to the same opportunities as Pittsburghers in more affluent neighborhoods. Homewood’s poverty rate exceeds 27 percent. Vacant homes and shuttered storefronts are prevalent. Almost one in four residents is a high school dropout. Access to affordable, nutritious food is scarce. There is no community grocery store where people can shop for fresh fruits and vegetables. Eighty-eight percent of children rely on free or reduced lunch in school. By every statistical metric, Homewood lags behind its peer neighborhoods in Pittsburgh.

Scope of Work

In Homewood, PA we worked alongside Dr. John Wallace (Pitt's School of Social Work) and Dr. Stephanie Boddie (Baylor University, University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University), to determine the best plan to build a greenhouse on the land adjacent to a triplex home and converting the structure to AC/DC power.  Through the Business of Humanity® course (The Business of Humanity®: Strategic Management in the Era of Globalization, Innovation and Shared Value), the students’ work has been focused on projects in both Homewood and Gujarat, India. 

One of the students who took part in Dr. Camillus’s course, Dean Rosenwald, formed a company with fellow Pitt students and Alumni.  SolarCell LLC is a startup company founded by four University of Pittsburgh graduates: Chief Executive Officer Emmanuel Taylor, who has a PhD in electrical engineering; Chief Operating Officer Nick Scangas, who has an MBA and MS in Engineering; Chief Communications Officer Dean Rosenwald, who has an MBA, a Master in International Business, and bachelor’s degrees in business administration and psychology; and Marketing Director Jai Kumar, who has a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience.  We were proud to support them as they launched their company by focusing on the electrical design of the greenhouse and triplex in Homewood.  

The Homewood projects support the efforts of The Oasis Project in Homewood. Led by the Bible Center Church, the Oasis Project strives to address the shortage of healthy food in Homewood as a means of empowering its residents and spurring positive change in the community. The church, which is led by Dr. John Wallace (who is also their senior pastor), is making available the land on which the greenhouse will be built and the adjacent row houses that will be retrofitted with DC power. He will also manage the social enterprise projects linked with the food grown in the greenhouses. SolarCell LLC researched and provided designs for the proprietary greenhouse system, complete with the electrical components.

The DC HEaRT initiative will help The Oasis Project carry out a range of food-related social enterprises: a community kitchen, a mobile food truck, and community food market, and culinary training, catering services, and food delivery services. The efforts will create jobs and professional development opportunities for Homewood residents. And on a broader level, they will improve the health of Homewood’s children, seniors, and the larger community, and will reduce the socioeconomic stigma associated with Homewood.

Please remember to visit this site again as we track the progress of the inititatives in Homewood!



On Thursday, March 16, 2017, on a cold and blustery day, we held an Opening Event Celebration of our Off-Grid DC-Powered Laboratory project at 7280 Fleury Way in Homewood, PA.  This event, which was sponsored by The Business of Humanity® Project and the Oasis Farm & Fishery Project, was attended by over 60 people representing local colleges, universities, non-profit organizations, foundations, corporations and government offices.  We were honored to have both County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto speak at this event and help us to dedicate an official plaque to mark this special occasion.

Please click on the slideshow below to see exclusive photos of the event and reception, which was held at the nearby W.A.R.M. Center and catered by the Everyday Café, which recently opened in Homewood.

Opening Event - March 2017


In Spring 2016, we were proud to announce completion of the construction of an Off-Grid Direct Currect (DC) powered bio-shelter laboratory in Homewood!  Sponsored by the Henry L. Hillman Foundation Opportunity Fund, we were able to partner with the Bible Center Church, Oasis Farm & Fishery, the University of Pittsburgh, the Katz Graduate School of Business and College of Business Administration and the Swanson School of Engineering to bring this one-of-a-kind bio-shelter to the Homewood community.  We were able to create this project alongside EcoCraft Homes Inc. (General Contractor); Thoughtful Balance (Architects); SolarCell LLC (DC System Designers) and Energy Independent Solutions (EIS). 

This graphic describes in detail how the Direct Current Electrical System, the Rainwater Capture and Filtration System and the Aquaponics System work together to make the bio-shelter run!

Please check out this exclusive video that shows the bio-shelter being built from the ground up!