New Orleans: The Green Rebuild

A number of green projects are underway in New Orleans. (Photo: Jeffrey Schwartz [CC BY 2.0]/Flickr)

On Aug. 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina raced into New Orleans and the city was forever changed. The rebuilding efforts have been focused in certain regions, but many areas of the city still look as they did shortly after New Orleans dried out from the devastating levee breaks. Last week, the Sierra Club released a report that examines the green rebuilding efforts in the city.

There are numerous green rebuilding projects underway in the city, including those from Brad Pitt’s Make It Right Foundation. The Sierra Club report takes all of these documented efforts and compiles them into a single, comprehensive document.

“The report's five goals are to profile key agencies; to catalog current and former green building projects; to evaluate the capacity and needs of each business and organization; to assess the current green building situation; and to develop a directory of local green building service providers.” Source: Sierra Club

Much of the data used in the report was gathered through two different surveys. One survey was given to universities, architects, construction companies, nonprofit organizations and others involved in the rebuilding efforts in New Orleans. The second survey focused on soliciting responses from workforce training programs.

One agency that participated in the survey is the Alliance for Affordable Energy. The nonprofit organization provides residential weatherization retrofits to senior citizens, offers a training program to youth aged 17-24, and hosts green building educational workshops.

Global Green USA also participated in the Sierra Club survey. Global Green USA has been active in rebuilding the Lower 9th Ward, participates in the Build it Back Green (BIBG) program, and has provided funding to schools in the city for green retrofits. Additionally, the organization is working with Andrew H. Wilson Elementary School and L.B. Landry High School to help them achieve their LEED Silver certification goal.

Of the agencies profiled in the report, 36.7 percent have been involved in the green building industry for 13 months to two years. This should come as no surprise as the green building industry has only recently begun to pick up momentum and the situation in New Orleans presented a unique opportunity for businesses to get into the green building field.

After the agency profiles, the report goes on to provide a comprehensive summary of the survey results. A few of the topics covered in the survey include:

  • Obstacles to green building projects and services
  • Percentage of green products purchased
  • Reasons for not purchasing green products
  • Percentage of local volunteers
  • Knowledgeability about green building concepts

The report concludes with an index of agencies that are involved in the green rebuild of New Orleans.