NOLA GBRC May 2010 Newsletter

Greetings from our New Orleans Green Building Resource Center

We Must Act Out of Hope, Rather than Live in Fear

These were the words that I chose to keep after a forum organized by the New Orleans Institute yesterday, with dozens of stakeholders discussing strategic responses to the BP oil disaster. The mood in the room was bleak, with environmental experts laying out the grim toll to be expected on the wildlife and wetlands, and coastal representatives fighting back tears as they talked about the destruction of livelihoods, culture, and vital food sources for their communities.  Although the river of oil continues to spew for a fifth straight week, critical needs are becoming increasingly apparent. 

The humanitarian crisis is the first priority - every single coastal resident has had their job destroyed or damaged for the foreseeable future, from the fishermen to the local restaurant staff to the hotel maids, and it is imperative that aggressive action ensures that they can keep food on their families' tables, make mortgage and credit card payments, and get rapid access to comprehensive mental health care services.  We must not allow the outrages that followed the Exxon Valdez spill to occur again - after almost 20 years of litigation with that oil company, the average payout to the fishermen and community members was $15,000.  And roughly 20% of the claimants were dead, many at their own hand after an epidemic of depression, domestic violence and substance abuse followed the destruction of their communities.

The environmental crisis demands the public's sharp and sustained attention over the coming years as well.  Wetlands loss, subsidence, more destructive hurricanes and sea level rise were already threatening all of coastal Louisiana, including New Orleans.  The oil and dispersants coming onshore will sharply accelerate wetlands and wildlife habitat loss, and rapid, science-led coastal restoration efforts must begin immediately.  It is imperative that we document the destruction - any citizen who can capture photographs, video, and eyewitness testimony will help ensure that our natural resources get more funding to help bring them back in the coming years.

Our coastal neighbors desperately need our help now, and in the coming days, weeks and months we must join together to identify needs, develop a clear plan of action, present a consistent and unified message, ensure that we have access and influence in decision making, and secure adequate funding to enable full-time service to this fight.  And make no mistake, whether we like it or not, we are now involved in a war - a war to save our culture, our communities and our coast.

~ Beth Galante, Director

TONIGHT: GBRC Monthly Panel Discussion

Global Green USA is proud to partner with the AIA, New Orleans Chapter and the USGBC-Louisiana Chapter for our monthly panel series on issues of sustainability and environmental responsibility.

Before Sportsman's Paradise is Lost: 
The Oil Spill in the Gulf and Our Community Response

This month's panel will focus on our collective response to the Deepwater Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico as we organize and promote training opportunities for volunteers and paid workers who wish to join the efforts to save our coastal communities, wetlands, and way of life.

Please join us as we come together as a community with the Louisiana Bucket Brigade and the Gulf Restoration Network in response to the largest man-made and avoidable environmental disaster in United States history - how we'll clean up our shorelines and wetlands in the coming weeks, support the fishermen and communities directly impacted - and how we can protect our environment for the future. 

Wednesday, May 26th 
5:30pm to 7:30pm 
Green Building Resource Center
841 Carondelet Street 
New Orleans, LA 

Global Green events are always free and open to the public. 

Light organic refreshment served at 5:30pm, meeting begins at 6pm.

Warm thanks to our good friends at Whole Foods Market and Atchafalaya Restaurant for their very generous support.

For updated information on this and archived past panel discussions, please see our Global Green website here or contact Heidi Jensen at our Green Building Resource Center: [email protected]:

LA Clean Tech Announces RESNET HERS Rater Training: June 7th - 11th
Over the next three years, the state of Louisiana has committed millions of dollars in federal stimulus funding to incentivize building new energy efficient homes and improving the energy efficiency of existing residential and commercial buildings. In order to qualify for these incentives, building owners must have a detailed energy audit called a Home Energy Rating conducted by a Home Energy Rater certified by the Residential Energy Services Network. 

What is RESNET Home Energy Rating?

RESNET Ratings provides a relative energy use index called the HERS® Index - a HERS Index of 100 represents the energy use of the "American Standard Building" and an Index of 0 (zero) indicates that the Proposed Building uses no net purchased energy (a Zero Energy Building). A set of rater recommendations for cost-effective improvements that can be achieved by the Rated Building is also produced.

RESNET Rater Training
Week of June 7th - 11th
8:30am to 5:30pm 

Green Building Resource Center
841 Carondelet Street
New Orleans, La
To register online for this Green Jobs training opportunity: LA Clean Tech registration page

For answers to your questions about being a RaterHERS Rater background

Build It Back Green in New Orleans: Ms. Betty Lou Thomas

Ms. Betty Lou Thomas returned to her home in the Broadmoor neighborhood of New Orleans, LA, after Hurricane Katrina to find the exterior intact, but the interior totally destroyed. She used insurance money to start the repairs for her home. Before she moved back in, thieves had stolen her copper plumbing and electrical wiring.  In one case, a contractor demanded money for work left unfinished. 

Four years and three contractors later, she was finally able to move back into her home.

Ms.Thomas was paying upwards of $200 a month on her electricity bill before the storm. After renovating her house, the bill was between $300 and $400 a month. Then Miss Betty Lou called Global Green’s Build it Back Green (BIBG) program for help. The technical team scheduled a trip to her home for a series of tests for air leakage. 

After Ms. Thomas watched the BIBG team depressurize her home, she said, “I couldn’t believe all the air that was coming through!"

Once the energy efficiency upgrades were complete, the BIBG team performed final diagnostic tests. Based on the results, Ms. Thomas’ house and HVAC system leak less air than before. Additionally, the house is now more comfortable with decreased drafts.

RESULTS for Ms. Thomas' Weatherization:

For tips on how to make your home more energy efficient, come by our Green Building Resource Center at 841 Carondelet Street or call our Build It Back Green team today at 504-525-2121.

The Unified Area Command Launching New Text Message Alert System for Public Use 

Anyone may sign up to get alerts of interest from the Deepwater Horizon/BP Response Team. Text message alerts are organized by both information categories and by state. Below is a list of key words for text messaging. These will be posted here: Deepwater Horizon/BP Response Web site along with instructions for how to subscribe.

All text message alert requests should be sent to 84469. For example, to sign up to receive information on beach closures in the Gulf region, type [email protected] to code 84469.

For Deepwater Horizon Response breaking and Gulf news, text [email protected] to 84469.

State-specific information can be obtained by texting the following codes:

[email protected]
 to 84469
[email protected] to 84469
[email protected] to 84469
[email protected] to 84469

Topic-specific information can be obtained by texting the following codes:

[email protected] 
– Information on beach closures and cleanup
[email protected] -- Air quality monitoring from the EPA
[email protected] -- Water quality monitoring from the EPA
[email protected] – Fishing area closures

Subscribers may sign up for one or more feeds, and may cancel out of the alert program at any time by sending [email protected] to 84469, and will be told that normal text message charges may be incurred from their carrier.

CRITICAL MASS: No Need to Drill, Spill, or Kill-- A Clean Commute is Possible

Let's Ride to Demonstrate the Power of Oil-Free transportation

Join this special bike ride on May 28th at 6pm beginning at Jackson Square in New Orleans, LA. The Ride will commute into Jefferson Parish from Downtown New Orleans, last about a hour and a half, and end at the River Levee.

Our society's oil addiction is an overwhelming issue. But it can be tackled in million ways-- transport is one way to beat the sauce, to stem the river of oil flowing into our streets. We have a proven, efficient technology in the bicycle.

What are we waiting for? Louisiana cannot expect to survive, playing the Oil and Gas industries' game. New Orleans is flat and compact and perfect for cycling. We have the potential to be a wonderful city for a clean energy future, but we must take the lead if we expect the rest of the country and the world to support our continued existence on the slow-motion Mudslide we call home.

Ride for our Lives 
May 28th, 6:00 pm 
Jackson Square
New Orleans, LA