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Archive for the ‘Green building’ Category

New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina: Lower 9th...

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This weekend is the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina‘s devastation of the Gulf Coast. Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana were dealt devastating blows by the storm. In Mississippi, coastal cities, such as Waveland, were almost totally destroyed. The television pictures we saw ripped our hearts as we felt helpless to do anything to stop such an onslaught. But those events were precursors of what was to come.

Initially the reports were that New Orleans was spared a direct hit. And while there was significant damage in the eastern part of the city, the city itself seemed to have escaped the worst once again. Then something unthinkable happened. Levees that were built to protect the City, and pumps that were supposed to keep the City dry, began to fail. One separating Orleans Parish from Jefferson Parish failed on the Orleans Parish side. Then came reports of another failed levee protecting the Lower 9th Ward. The waters flowed into the residential neighborhoods and moved family homes from there foundations. And we were able to see these events from the comfort of our homes wherever we were living at the time. We also saw the images of the New Orleans Convention Center and the Superdome, reported as shelters of last resort. For some, they proved to be profoundly a last resort. They died in or around those shelters. Our hearts almost could not handle what we were seeing on live televisions.

All of the major news networks have broadcast from the Gulf Coast acknowledging this 5th anniversary.  Most have chronicled the things that went wrong and seem to be focussed on attributing blame. However, Brian Williams hosted Meet the Press on Sunday morning and his approach seemed different by focussing on the things that are working. His guests included Wendell Pierce, Garland Robinette, Douglass Brinkley, Mitch Landrieu, and Mary Landrieu. Their was a filmed piece with Brad Pitt on his Make It Right Foundation and the homes that foundation is building in the Lower 9th Ward.

New Orleans is my family home. We lived in the Irish Chanel and in Jefferson Parish. I worked in the 9th Ward from time to time. I have not lived in New Orleans for close to 30 years, but it is still home. I appreciated all the coverage of the progress made and the things that still need to be done. One thing really stood out to me in though. In spite of the good that men wish, it is not within their power to solve the tremendous problems that were exposed by this disaster, and other subsequent ones. The good news is that a real solution will soon be realized.

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Homes use energy every day.

Most of us are do not think about how much energy we use in our homes. At least, not until we receive our energy bill from our service provider. Here are a few statistics that we should be familiar with concerning how much energy buildings use in the United States according to the U. S. Green Building Council, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) web site:

  • buildings use 39% of the total energy consumed
  • they use 68% of the electricity
  • emit 30% of greenhouse gases
  • use 30% of the raw materials
  • produce 136 million tons of waste annually
  • are responsible for 12% of the portable water consumed

Are these statistics indicating good energy use or bad? Can those numbers be changed? What can an individual do to deminish the energy we comsume in our own home? All of us need to educate ourselves about how to more efficiently utilize our limited resources. There are options that make sense and some that may or may not make sense. I will explore some of the options in a series of blogs over the next few weeks. I will share with you what I learn and provide you with references that you can use to find answers that might work for your circumstances. Here are a couple to start with:

www.energysavers.gov;

www.thegbi.org.

Enjoy your research!

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