Prior to Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans and Louisiana lacked virtually any green building or energy-efficiency infrastructure. Louisiana didn’t have a modern energy code, there were no LEED certified buildings, and most of the shotgun houses and schools were built with cheap building materials that were often unhealthy and incredibly energy-inefficient.
Five years later, we celebrate the thousands of green points that symbolize the healthy and energy-efficient rebuilding going on throughout New Orleans. New Orleans is a Department of Energy (DOE) Solar America City, Louisiana has the most progressive solar tax credit in the country, there are numerous green homes, schools, and building projects throughout the city and hundreds of green building products are now widely available. Five years after Katrina, there were more green single-family affordable housing units being built in New Orleans than any other city in the United States.
It was estimated that If 50,000 of the homes destroyed by Hurricane Katrina were rebuilt according to the green standards set by the design competition, residents of New Orleans would save $38 million to $56 million in energy bills every year and eliminate over 1⁄2 million total tons of CO2 – the equivalent of taking 100,000 cars off the road.
With the support of lead funding Partner Home Depot Foundation, Global Green is creating a sustainable village in the Lower 9th Ward. The Holy Cross Project consists of five single-family homes, an 18-unit apartment building, and a community center/sustainable design and climate action center.
The goal of the project is to achieve LEED Platinum standards, as well as net zero energy and carbon neutrality. By using solar panels, high performance building design, HVAC systems, energy and resource monitoring systems, and energy efficient appliances, the buildings in the Holy Cross Project will use at least 75% less energy than typical buildings.
The first home has been open as a Visitor Center since 2008.
"Our neighborhood is democratic, but unfortunately many of our neighbors are not back yet. This is the first real project in the lower 9th ward since Katrina. It is hope, but it is also reality. I am especially thankful for the sustainability aspects which are crucial to all of us, but are especially important to people of moderate means." - Pam Dashiell, Former President of HCNA
With our Holy Cross Project blog, we are able to keep our consituents up to date on the progress of the project, as well as related topics such as life and the people in the neighborhood, and the sustainable rebuilding of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast in general.
In 2006, with the help of a $2 million grant from the Bush Clinton Katrina Fund, Global Green launched a high performance schools initiative that is benefitting thousands of New Orleans students, as well as their teachers and their families.
Five schools were designated as Green Seed Schools, receiving assistance and resources to improve energy and water efficiency, improve indoor air quality, and if feasible, on-site renewable energy generation.
A second and more ambitious phase of the program resulted in the creation of high performance showcase Model Green Schools.
Four of the five Green Seed Schools are complete. Both Model Green Schools - L.B. Landry High School - are now open.
Build It Back Green (BIBG) was established in 2008, and is a comprehensive community outreach initiative to bring green building education and technical assistance to New Orleans residents, empowering them to take action to reduce utility bills and improve their health. Targeting low-income families, for whom utilities can comprise up to 30% of the monthly expenses, the program aims to assist the long-term sustainability of the home as well as the financial sustainability of the family.
BIBG offers cost-effective green solutions for residents’ homes, neighborhood seminars on energy efficiency topics, at-home energy consults, and a comprehensive directory of green products and the local businesses that sell them. The program also offers educational materials on state and federal incentives for green building. To date, over 21,000 residents have been helped via BIBG:
"My utility bill is wonderful, even my water bill went down, its really amazing the money you can save, if you just believe in these things, its worth a try, I'm willing to try anything, I'm on a fixed income."
"Its amazing to think that I was able to save money because I went to a few Holy Cross meetings and talked to Global Green, I listened to a few people, and had some correspondence with the technical team from the BIBG program, it really helped me out."
"I hear so many senior citizens saying they have problems with utility bills, I'm 75. Not having to pay high utility bills, that was a big load off of my shoulders. Its a great blessing. Thank you BIBG."
"I live a good quality of life and it's because of the things people have helped me with. Thank you BIBG."
USA TODAY. AUGUST 27, 2010 - Hurricane Katrina anniversary: Ways to help with on-going rebuilding efforts
KLFY 10. AUGUST 26, 2010. By Associated Press - Climate change center to be in Lower 9th Ward
THE HUFFINGTON POST. AUGUST 26, 2010. By Laura Bassett - Post-Katrina, Global Green Gives New Orleans An Eco-Facelift
WDSU.COM. AUGUST 25, 2010 - Holy Cross Neighborhood Gets 'Green' Face-Lift
CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS. AUGUST 25, 2010 - It’s Easy Being Green: The Big Green Easy
THE TIMES-PICAYUNE. JULY 26, 2010 - L.B. Landry High School counting down to opening day
THE GAMBIT. APRIL 19, 2010 - Andrew H. Wilson Charter School Goes Green
USA TODAY. APRIL 7, 2010 - A legacy of Katrina: Green homes
FOX 8 NEWS. NOVEMBER 18, 2009 - Top EPA official tours 9th Ward
TREEHUGGER. NOVEMBER 10, 2009 - Rebuilding a Green New Orleans: An Interview with Matt Petersen
THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR. NOVEMBER 4, 2009 - New Orleans in the forefront of a green building revolution
THE ATLANTIC. NOVEMBER 1, 2009 - Houses of the Future
THE TIMES-PICAYUNE. AUGUST 31, 2009 - New post-Katrina construction shows that a sustainable industry may have come out of the storm
TIME. AUGUST 29, 2009 - Four Years Later, New Orleans' Green Makeover
CNN. AUGUST 29, 2009 - Nonprofits help Katrina victims rebuild their homes, lives