The U.S. Green Building Council is calling the neighborhood being built by Make It Right New Orleans, the post-Katrina housing initiative launched by actor Brad Pitt, the "largest and greenest community of single-family homes in the world."
That was the assessment given by USGBC President and CEO Rick Fedrizzi, addressing the recent annual Clinton Global Initiative meeting in New York.
Make It Right, which was announced as a "commitment" at the 2007 Clinton Global Initiative meeting, has already achieved LEED Platinum certification for 13 homes and is building at least 150 sustainable, storm-resistant LEED Platinum homes in a Lower 9th Ward neighborhood of New Orleans. The area was wiped out by Hurricane Katrina and was nearest to the disastrous breach of the Industrial Canal levee.
"In transforming the Lower 9th Ward, Make It Right is showing us how we can transform those parts of our nation that have fallen behind the most, whether through neglect, poverty, or disaster," said former President Bill Clinton. "Make It Right offers a blueprint for how to build homes that instill pride and combine to form communities of hope and opportunity. By following the Make It Right model, we can generate the green collar jobs our economy needs to move forward and advance building practices that reduce carbon emissions, while at the same time growing neighborhoods where families can thrive."
The green and energy-saving features of Make It Right homes include solar power, geothermal heating and cooling systems, tankless water heaters, ENERGY STAR appliances, superior insulation, and efficient lighting. In addition to its billing as the "largest green community in the world," the neighborhood is home to the largest congregation of high-design homes created by different architects working on the same project. A total of 21 local, national and international architects have contributed designs to the project.
Make It Right homes also include storm-resistant features such as five- or eight-foot elevations to protect the home from flooding, impact-resistant glass or hurricane fabric to protect windows, rooftop access, and mold-resistant, paperless drywall.
Fedrizzi said that with Make It Right, "We are reminded that our work is not about buildings, but rather about the people within them." He added: "What we're seeing with green building goes beyond energy-efficiency to a transformation of entire communities and the lives of the people who live there. Make It Right has proved that green building can be both affordable and high performing."
Pitt said that "While Katrina gave us the opportunity to think creatively about how to make green homes affordable for the low-income families who need them the most, it shouldn't take a hurricane to make that happen in other cities. Our plan is to take what we have learned in New Orleans and help other communities build healthy, safe, and affordable green homes.
"Our hope is to make these homes the norm, not the exception."
Fedrizzi presented a LEED plaque to Pitt and Make It Right resident and Katrina-survivor Deidre Taylor in recognition of the initiative's planned and certified LEED Platinum homes.
Make It Right is a collaboration of Pitt, Steve Bing, Graft Architects, Cherokee Gives Back, and William McDonough + Partners. Make it Right is expected to complete 50 homes by December 2009 and 150 by December 2010.