Author: Frank Yaconis
A recent issue of Oprah featured an article about how many of the homes in New Orleans being rebuilt after Hurricane Katrina are those that are eco friendly and use solar power. From the dishwasher to the bathroom light to the wood used in the house’s frame, these homes are examples of the greening of the construction industry.
The article featured a woman who has a new house, five years after the hurricane that is run by solar panels. The panels are as big as picnic tables and her rooftop features 15 of them.
In her neighborhood there are many other homes just like hers that use solar panels to generate energy.
The ability to tap the sun for energy along with making new housing have the smallest carbon footprint possible is the idea behind these new homes that replace some of the thousands of homes wiped out in the hurricane.
All of these Louisiana residents lost everything when Hurricane Katrina swept through their neighborhood in 2005. The devastation was seen around the world.
The project, which was headed up by Brad Pitt, to rebuild some of the 4,000 homes is called the Make It Right foundation. Under the plan to build 150 homes in the Lower Ninth neighborhood, homes are built using solar power, walls of energy efficient foam, materials that are less toxic than traditional building materials, energy efficient lighting and appliances, cement rain barrels and ways to absorb the earth’s heat as heating source.
Unlike traditional rain barrels that capture run off, these houses have a network of gutters and tubes that actually direct the water into two cement containers that hold 300 gallons of water apiece. The containers include a pump that allows homeowners to use the water for gardening or lawns or whatever on their properties.
Buried in the ground deep below the homes, a series of pipes collect the heat from the ground and channels it up into the houses as another source of heat in addition to that of the solar panels on top of the home.
Lighting and appliances are pretty standard to what you might see in any other eco friendly home, those with CFLs that consume less energy than traditional light bulbs. All appliances are rated and Energy Star certified.
The Make It Right foundation is trying to build homes that use 70 percent less energy than a typical home. The houses, which come in brilliant colors such as orange and pink, cost at least $200,000 to build.
Some residents can’t afford this price and the foundation tries to help finance and fund the homes.
As solar power and green housing becomes more popular, this country will see more and more homes of this type. It may seem right now like it is a little The Jetsons, but truly this is the wave of the future and we will see all of these features implemented more and more in new housing until most of us will barely be able to remember life before them.