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Building Green and Affordable Homes

2009 July 7

Hurricane season started on June 1 and I thought it would be interesting to see how at least one non-profit organization is incorporating energy efficiency and green design as it re-builds a neighborhood in New Orleans, almost 4 years after Hurricane Katrina.

Jericho Road Housing Initiative was founded with support from the Episcopal Relief and Development organization and is a neighborhood-based non-profit home builder of healthy and energy efficient housing. One of the fundamental missions of Jericho Road is not only to replace housing units lost during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, but to build a neighborhood in the Central City area of New Orleans. The organization is working with 56 lots in the vicinity of the Saratoga Street Brownfield site. To date, 21 homes have been sold and another 20 have been constructed or are under construction.

Located almost at the center of the neighborhood is the Saratoga Street Brownfield site, once a municipal hazardous waste incinerator. Working with community members, local landscape architects and Jericho Road staff plan to convert the vacant land into a community park. In addition to ridding the area of an environmental and aesthetic eyesore, the new park will provide residents and families with a healthy outdoor area for exercise and enjoyment.

There have been 3 design criteria that have guided the design and construction of the homes. First, Jericho Road has used traditional architectural designs found in the neighborhood. To folks that grew up in south Louisiana, these homes are referred to as “shotgun” houses and include tall ceilings, deep front porches and unique structural details. Next, the homes incorporate the concept of universal design so that residents of differing physical abilities can move easily throughout the home, including doorways and hall widths that accommodate wheelchair use. The third design criterion is to build green and energy efficient.

Brad Powers, Jericho Road’s executive director, recently outlined the group’s energy efficiency emphasis in the organization’s newsletter. “Green building is not a luxury – it is part and parcel with our commitment to providing families with not just a house but a home. Long-term housing affordability and energy efficiency are interconnected and must be acknowledged by all that provide or help fund homes. This is especially true for low income families.”

About the author: Rob Lawrence joined EPA in 1990 and is Senior Policy Advisor on Energy Issues in the Dallas, TX regional office. As an economist, he works to insure that both supply and demand components are addressed as the Region develops its Clean Energy and Climate Change Strategy.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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4 Responses leave one →
  1. Johnny R. permalink
    July 9, 2009

    So, Mr. & Mrs. Smith want to build their dream home and they would love to live in a woodland area. The problem is millions of other people want the same thing, and by the time they’ve finished building, the woods are gone, replaced by sprawling suburbs around the nation and around the World. Obviously, human society should agree with itself to peacefully reduce its population through family planning, but this is a forbidden subject, and almost no one is willing to talk about it. “A Growing Economy Is A Healthy Economy!” So, obviously, a growing population seems to be necessary, even though it is polluting and killing the planetary biosphere we all depend on to live. How many people can the Earth support?

  2. Christopher G. permalink
    July 10, 2009

    While I agree with Johnny R. that population increases present strains on our environment (not to mention our collective immune systems and political systems), we have to believe that by becoming better educated, more technologically adept and by making more sensible decisions to conserve natural resources efficiently and effectively we can learn to inhabit this planet in greater numbers.
    A professor of architecture once defined life for me as, “a sexually transmitted disease”. Our single primary function as lifeforms is to procreate. While we can make sensible decisions as individuals to limit the size of our families, we all have the inalienable and fundamental right to reproduce. (The fact that you may believe that some people should be denied that right is beside the point. Where does the limitation of this right start and where does it stop. How would you react if the ability to raise your own children was taken from you, as has been from many.)
    Instead let us learn to sacrifice the dream of larger homes and larger plots of lands in return we can retain the ability to raise our own children, to form more complex and connected communities and in the process we have the opportunity to express our creativity.

  3. PSI permalink
    September 14, 2009

    Nice blog, here they have said that the green building is useful one and it is not only of high level families. The green building is not luxury, it will be suitable for middle level or low income families.
    Green building is eco-friendly, recycling method and if we go for green building we can avoid wastages.

    http://www.sustainablebuildingsseries.com
    http://www.gsmiweb.com

  4. Adam Chronister permalink
    May 31, 2010

    I’m just now taking steps to make my house more green. Thanks for the post.

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