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Sustainable Living in New Orleans
New Orleans is known worldwide for the city’s Mardi Gras celebrations. Tragically, the city is also known for one of the most devastating environmental disasters that have ever occurred in the United States. Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in 2005, causing mass destruction and damage of property and the area’s environment. Even six years later, the effects of the hurricane are still widespread.
Many of New Orleans’ issues with pollution are direct effects of Hurricane Katrina. Soil testing showed that arsenic contaminated the city’s playground and school soils years after the hurricane. Many buildings still contain mold from water damage. Drinking water sources are still heavily contaminated with bacteria, sediment, and chemicals. Levels of particulate pollution are extremely high even years after the hurricane. Residents of New Orleans still face a daily fight to combat the toxins in the water, air, and soil.
In New Orleans, the primary focus has been to rebuild the city from the ground up. Many of these efforts have been sustainable and environmentally friendly in order to fix the environmental problems caused by Katrina. Almost all of these efforts have focused on the low-income residential areas of the city.
The Holy Cross Project is one of the largest of these green rebuilding efforts. This project aims to rebuild the low-income Holy Cross area of New Orleans by using green technology. It is hoped that each of the houses and apartments built are zero-energy houses. The project includes five single-family homes, an apartment building with 18 units, a community center, and a climate action center, all built to LEED Platinum standards. The buildings are equipped with solar panels, HVAC systems, and energy efficient appliances, using 75 percent less energy than a traditional house. Future efforts may utilize the Mississippi River with the creation of river turbines.
Homeowners that are rebuilding can take advantage of the Build It Back Green program, established in 2008. This allows homeowners and landlords of small rental properties to rebuild their damaged houses in a sustainable way. In addition to grant money, the organization Global Green also provides information to homeowners to help them be successful in the rebuilding efforts.
The state of Louisiana also has authorized a personal tax credit of up to $12,500 for homeowners wishing to convert their home energy sources to use renewable energy. This tax credit allows homeowners to purchase and install solar and wind powered systems, such as photovoltaic panels, solar water heating, thermal energy heating and cooling, and solar pool heating systems. The credit can be claimed more than once if the homeowner installs more than one alternative energy system in his home.
Homeowners can also take advantage of the HERO program. This program, also known as the Louisiana Home Energy Rebate Option, encourages property owners to make significant energy improvements of their homes. Any Louisiana homeowner can take advantage of the program as long as the upgrades improve the energy savings by at least 30 percent. The program offers cash payment of up to $2000 to help cover the cost of the improvements.
While many of the initiatives in New Orleans focus on rebuilding the city, a few options are available for daily sustainable living. The city still has abundant weekly farmer’s markets to encourage the purchase of locally and sustainably grown produce. Some of these markets include the Camellia City Market, Convington Farmer’s Market, Vietnamese Farmer’s Market, and the Crescent City Farmer’s Market.
New Orleans also has a public transportation system that includes buses and street cars. The transit system provides access from every neighborhood in New Orleans and includes uptown, downtown, Lakeview, Lower Nine, Mid-City, and the Parish areas. The public transportation system reduces the amount of fuel used and emissions created in the city.
New Orleans was once a bustling energized city that has since faced enormous tragedy when Hurricane Katrina devastated the area. Sustainable efforts have focused on rebuilding the city in an environmentally friendly way. As New Orleans is rebuilt, it is hoped that the city’s efforts to be sustainable continue and extend to daily life in the city.
Businesses looking to open new business premises or office centers in New Orleans Louisiana can support environmentally friendly schemes by taking part in green technology and renewable energy initiatives, along with running a paperless office