Monday, November 15, 2010

A Rare Opportunity For Sustainability In New Orleans

It is easy to see that I am passionate about all things clean energy related.  However, it isn't as easy to see how these things are applied in real life because for the most part the application of clean energy and sustainable practices is scattered randomly across the nation on a small scale.

In New Orleans it is a different story.  Yes, Hurricane Katrina was a terrible event that is still indescribable on so many levels...but if there was a silver lining to this tragedy, it is the opportunity to rebuild the city in a cleaner, more sustainable fashion that can serve as an example for the rest of the nation.

Recently I was down in New Orleans observing the impact that the oil industry has had on the area (particularly with the Deepwater Horizon spill).  Aside from seeing a spider eat an entire frog right before my eyes*, I also visited the Lower Ninth Ward which was the hardest hit area in New Orleans during Katrina.

The interesting part about the Lower Ninth is that the opportunity to rebuild a whole section of a city is rare at best because it is typically impossible to justify the costs of tearing down an entire neighborhood in order to rebuild.  Tragically, the majority of the Ninth was destroyed, but moving forward it can now be rebuilt in a more sustainable fashion.

This is exactly what some organizations such as Global Green USA is doing right now.  Global Green is building new homes in the Lower Ninth which are LEED Platinum certified which is the gold (platinum) standard of energy efficient building.

I had the pleasure of walking through one of these homes and they really are quite impressive.  Solar panels on the roof, incredibly efficient appliances, energy monitoring software, responsible water usage in the bathrooms, and much more - these homes are amazing.

Also, there is no feeling that you are sacrificing comfort which I feel a lot of people assume when they hear about sustainable living.  The rooms are spacious and the materials are nice.  If you were to walk into this house without knowing that it was LEED certified, I would be willing to bet that most people wouldn't recognize a difference between these homes and other newly built homes in other areas.

It is wonderful to see that there are people out there that recognize the opportunity for sustainability in New Orleans and I hope that this becomes more and more common in other cities across the nation as time goes on.

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