USGBC celebrates five years of green progress in New Orleans

WASHINGTON -- (BUSINESS WIRE) – August 25, 2010 – Five years after the devastating hurricanes that ravaged New Orleans and much of the Gulf Coast, many organizations have stepped in to help rebuild the city, placing emphasis on resilience, sustainability and economic prosperity. The U.S. Green Building Council, the driving force of the green building industry in America, has also made rebuilding New Orleans green a key priority. Through USGBC’s LEED green building certification program, hundreds of homes, schools and commercial buildings are being rebuilt to be high-performance, resource-efficient, durable and healthier places for the people of New Orleans who occupy them. Below is a report of USGBC’s efforts since 2005.

USGBC’s Notable Accomplishments:

  • USGBC embedded an expert in the Recovery School District to work with all schools on rebuilding green.
  • All public schools built to minimum LEED Silver Certification.
  • Green movie studio in the Lower Garden District will be LEED Silver.
  • Make It Right has built the largest community of LEED Platinum homes in the world.
  • Salvation Army’s EnviRenew is building and repairing 250 homes in five New Orleans neighborhoods to be green and energy efficient.
  • USGBC and EnviRenew’s Natural Talent Design Competition will build four LEED Platinum homes in the Broadmoor neighborhood.
  • Preservation Resource Center (PRC) and the Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development (CSED) will be opening a new LEED Platinum community center/headquarters in the Holy Cross neighborhood of the Lower Ninth Ward.
  • Working with USGBC, several groups in the city are training workers to rebuild the city better and greener: LA Greencorps, Good Work Network, Electrician’s Union, Delgado Community College, Deep South Center for Environmental Justice

Since the devastating hurricanes and subsequent floods that ravaged New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region in 2005, USGBC has been on the ground there, developing strategies for rebuilding even as the flood waters began receding. At its 2005 Greenbuild Conference in Atlanta, just weeks after the hurricanes came through, USGBC convened 160 participants, including many New Orleans residents, USGBC chapter members and other leading experts in planning, environmental engineering and architecture, in a planning charrette.

The outcome was the New Orleans Principles, a roadmap and specific action plans for the re-planning and rebuilding efforts, with the intent of enhancing environmental, social, and economic outcomes. To ensure the principles became actions, USGBC created the position of “New Orleans Green Building Coordinator” to facilitate and execute the strategy on the ground. For more than two years, Anisa Baldwin Metzger has been on the ground, working with the Recovery School District and has become a nationally recognized leader in translating green building strategies into real world results. USGBC’s Louisiana Chapter has been a driving force for keeping sustainability at the forefront of rebuilding efforts.

The New Orleans Principles
1. Respect the rights of all citizens of New Orleans.
2. Restore natural protections of the greater New Orleans region.
3. Implement an inclusive planning process.
4. Value diversity in New Orleans.
5. Protect the city of New Orleans.
6. Embrace smart redevelopment.
7. Honor the past; build for the future.
8. Provide for passive survivability.
9. Foster locally owned, sustainable businesses.
10. Focus on the long term.

The Road to Educational Recovery
Chief among the action plans was a strong commitment to ensuring the schools are not only rebuilt, but are built to LEED Silver– so that every child within the school system could attend classes in safe, structurally sound and resilient facilities that enhanced the goals of learning. Before Hurricane Katrina:

  • There were 439 buildings on 127 active public school campuses, serving 63,000 students.
  • Virtually all of that space was substandard - parents chose where to send their children based on how “less bad” the bathrooms were.

Then Katrina hit, and more than 80-percent of those buildings had more than 25-percent damage. With children to educate immediately, the first initiative off the drawing board was Quick Start, a community process that had the goal of building one new school in each of the five city council districts in New Orleans.

  • Quick Start Schools: Langston Hughes Elementary, Wilson Elementary, Lake Area High School, Landry High School and Fannie C. Williams.
  • Each school is LEED Silver and will reduce energy use by 30-percent.
  • The first of those schools opened in August, 2009, with double-digit increases in test scores just in the past school year.
  • When phase one of the master plan is completed in 2013, there will be 17 new and 13 renovated LEED schools

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