|All in all, I am impressed with some of the strides that have been taken in rebuilding the coast with green in mind. While by no means is it an end to the challenges on being more efficient and using more alternative energy, it is a a start.|
|Rebuilding a Green New Orleans|
by Chad Whitney,
As we all know, New Orleans and much of the Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama gulf coast were devastated by Hurricane Katrina. A little over eighteen months after the storm, some progress is being made at rebuilding these areas. In my earlier article, I hoped for a greener approach towards building. Energy efficiency and alternative energy programs to be a beacon of greener building for our country. I hope to shed a little light on my recent look into actual building developments in our hurricane ravaged area.
Standards and codes are always adopted slowly, however after Hurricane Katrina sweeping code reform was undertaken in many areas. I have seen some that were without building codes before the storm adopt new tough building standards. For example in many areas, insulation is now required to meet certain R values, where before the storm no insulation was even required. Many homes are now insulated with foam insulation. I had my house foamed before the storm and it was relatively hard to find a foam insulation contractor. Now there are signs on every corner of New Orleans to have your house insulated to the hilt.
Insulation is only one area where things are changing. We have even seen a small spike at http://www.outsidesupply.com/ in small solar kits for homes and cottages in the Gulf Coast area. We have also seen a huge increase in the number of backup generators being installed in may homes. People are starting to think about other alternatives. When people start thinking and looking at alternatives, changes can happen. While I wouldn't say that New Orleans is the beacon for greener building I dreamed, I do feel it has taken huge strides toward greater efficiency
Super efficient AC systems and solar grid tie systems are expensive. At least this is how these money and energy saving devices appear on the front end. This is why I think that affluent individuals in a community are always most likely to adopt new and more efficient technologies. They have the flexibility to look at long term savings over short term budget constraints. This is why I drove to an area of New Orleans that was heavily devastated by flooding in Katrina, New Orleans East. Once there, I wanted to see how some Low to Middle income replacement houses were being built.
I met with Adonis Woods of Next Generation Homes, he and his company are offering custom built modular housing to low to middle income home buyers. Adonis was quick to shake off any mention or relation to Trailers or sub standard housing. For good reason, I might add. I was amazed at some of the energy saving and overall construction options available to his customers. He offers many packages, but they all exceed many of the energy efficiency related building codes. He is using 2 X 6 walls, instead of basic 2 X 4 walls. His units have low E windows. He even has several packages with Energy Star appliance options. He is using high R value insulation through out the homes. They are insulating the attic as well as under the homes. He is foaming the air conditioning closet for greater efficiency from the units. While he is not directly having the AC systems installed in the units. He has another independent AC contractor offer his customers units ranging from 12 SEER to 20+ SEER units. It really just depends on the budget they have to work with. All of these little changes from contractors like Adonis will make a huge change in the overall energy efficiency of the region.
All in all, I am impressed with some of the strides that have been taken in rebuilding the coast with green in mind. While by no means is it an end to the challenges on being more efficient and using more alternative energy, it is a a start. A new start for an area not known for fresh and greener thoughts. I applaud every person who is spending the little bit extra to buy more efficient appliances. I also applaud and celebrate every watt of green electricity coming from the coast.