Housing Project Goes Solar

Housing Project Goes Solar NEW ORLEANS, LA - A project that seeks to curb the city's energy appetite is one step closer to helping residents return to the Lower Ninth Ward. "This initiative is setting the standard for green initiatives in New Orleans," said Belinda Little-Wood, from the Louisiana Office of Recovery.

The project, located in the Holy Cross neighborhood of the Lower Ninth Ward, consists of five single-family homes, a community center and an 18-unit apartment building.

Global Green USA, a company focused on renewable energy and greenhouse gas reduction technology, began the project, along with financial assistance from actor Brad Pitt, as a design contest in 2006. More than 125 designers submitted proposals before the winning design was awarded to Matthew Berman and Andrew Kotchen of Workshop/APD from New York.

On Wednesday, organizers held a community event to celebrate the installation of solar panels. The event, attended by several dozen people, was held in conjunction with South Coast Solar, a local New Orleans company that provides panels and other solar-powered systems, and the Louisiana Clean Tech Network, a statewide nonprofit that provides job training.

With the installation of the solar panels, the exteriors of the first two homes are nearly complete.

"The addition of two solar energy systems will provide approximately 3,500 kilowatt hours a month and save residents approximately $50 a month on their bill," said Troy A. Von Otnott, president of South Coast Solar.

In order to capture as much solar energy as they can, builders slanted the homes' roofs towards the south and installed 12 panels on each home. The features should help residents use 75 percent less energy than other buildings, according to Global Green's Web site.

In addition to helping residents, the installation also allowed students from the Louisiana Clean Tech Network the opportunity to participate.

"I am glad to participate because I know that I am contributing to the solar movement here in New Orleans," said Julio Cardozaza, a trainee. Since January 2008, six classes have been completed by Louisiana CleanTech students.

Members of the community were also allowed to view the installation, 20 people at a time, by climbing scaffolding that was erected for the event.

The single-family houses are set to go on the market next month and will be available to residents of the Lower Ninth Ward who lost their homes in Hurricane Katrina. Exact prices are not yet available, but an announcement will be made next month.

Little-Wood called New Orleans the testing ground, a laboratory to show how green projects can work.

"Global Green is really setting the standard and being one of the leaders in the greening of New Orleans," she said. "This initiative will be the focus of economic development for the next 20 years." Raymond Breaux, a former Global Green USA worker who came to the event on Wednesday, seconded the idea.

"This is what we should have been doing all along," he said. "Alternative energies are more viable. What we are doing now is the current, but green is the future. New Orleans is the epicenter of the green initiative. It's important that we keep the city alive in the right way."
Source: nola09.nytimes-institute.com

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