USGBC Working Towards a Greener New Orleans


What does the future hold for this storm-ravaged city? Perhaps for the first time, we have the opportunity to build a city from the ground up—incorporating a 21st century understanding of ecological issues. The U.S. Green Building Council hopes leaders in urban planning, real estate, neighborhood outreach and architecture will follow its sustainable plan. The organization presented “The New Orleans Principles," 10 suggestions for sustainable development in New Orleans, at a leadership luncheon last month. According to USGBC member Bob Odell, the city should reinvent its history of mixed-income, mixed-use neighborhoods with 21st century technology like solar electric systems, protected underground utilities, and updated public transit. The principals, simple in form, could be revolutionary, if followed.

The Ten Principles:

1. Respect the rights of all citizens of New Orleans

Displaced citizens who wish to return to New Orleans should be afforded the opportunity to return to healthy, livable, safe, and secure neighborhoods of choice.

2. Restore natural protections of the greater New Orleans region

Sustain and restore the coastal and floodplain ecosystems and urban forests that support and protect the environment, economy, communities, and culture of southern Louisiana, and that contribute greatly to the economy and well-being of the nation.

3. Implement an inclusive planning process

Build a community-centered planning process that uses local talent and makes sure that the voices of all citizens of New Orleans are heard. This process should be an agent of change and renewal for New Orleans.

4. Value diversity in New Orleans

Build on the traditional strength of New Orleans neighborhoods, encourage mixed uses and diverse housing options, and foster communities of varied incomes, mixed age groups, and a racial diversity. Celebrate the unique culture of New Orleans, including its food, music, and art.

5. Protect the city of New Orleans

Expand or build a flood protection infrastructure that serves multiple uses. Value, restore, and expand the urban forests, wetlands, and natural systems of the New Orleans region that protect the city from wind and storms.

6. Embrace smart redevelopment

Maintain and strengthen the New Orleans tradition of compact, connected, mixed-use communities. Provide residents and visitors with multiple transportation options. Look to schools for jumpstarting neighborhood redevelopment and for rebuilding strong communities in the city.

7. Honor the past; build for the future

In the rebuilding of New Orleans, honor the history of the city while creating 21st century buildings that are durable, affordable, inexpensive to operate, and healthy to live in. Through codes and other measures, ensure that all new buildings are built to high standards of energy, structural, environmental, and human health performance.

8. Provide for passive survivability

Homes, schools, public buildings, and neighborhoods should be designed and built or rebuilt to serve as livable refuges in the event of crisis or breakdown of energy, water, and sewer systems.

9. Foster locally owned, sustainable businesses

Support existing and new local businesses built on a platform of sustainability that will contribute to a stronger and more diverse local economy.

10. Focus on the long term

All measures related to rebuilding and ecological restoration, even short-term efforts, must be undertaken with explicit attention to the long-term solutions. ::USGBC