After Katrina, New Orleans housing goes green
Conservation was never a top priority in New Orleans, but Katrina changed that. The city is now an incubator for new home building featuring natural resources and sustainable architecture.
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Make It Right homes do not look like anything associated with New Orleans. Raised to provide more protective living area in the event of a second flood, their sleek angles and bright colors make them look more suited to the beaches of Malibu or Miami. They are built with ample use of sunlight, solar panels, mold resistant drywall, dual flush toilets, and metal roofs that absorb less heat and are meant to reduce utility costs.Skip to next paragraph
So far, there are 39 such homes with an eye to building a total of 150.
Besides providing housing in an area overgrown by 10-foot high grass where homes once stood, the foundation is also allowing the University of New Orleans Engineering School to conduct structural tests of certain advanced building materials. It has also held sessions for local concrete installers on how to use pervious concrete, which is capable of absorbing water that limits runoff into the surface area.
Existing homes being retrofitted
Besides Make It Right and Global Green, other groups are helping local homeowners retrofit existing homes with more eco-friendly materials to lower energy costs.
Over ten days in March, Historic Green, a volunteer group, helped replace windows and install installation in homes, outfit a local playground with solar power lights, and construct ten residential rain gardens. The New Orleans Preservation Resource Center is also retrofitting homes in the area; one is being turned into a neighborhood community center that will provide green building technology training to local residents.
At the invitation of the state-run public school system, Global Green has also become involved in the rebuilding of new schools in the city and is helping write policy for how they can be restored with energy-efficient materials and solar panels.
Galante of Global Green USA is a co-chair of a sustainable energy team organized by recently elected mayor Mitch Landrieu He says the city’s new “green economy” could generate about 90,000 clean energy jobs over the next 20 years as the city becomes a model for the rest of the country.
The group hopes to help create an advisory council representing all four Gulf Coast states that will work with state governments to encourage and sustain alternative energy manufacturing jobs and monitor wetlands restoration caused by the recent Gulf oil spill. So far the group helped convince Louisiana lawmakers to push for a solar tax credit for low-income housing built in the state.