One of the more heartening events of the past two years has been the response of the design community to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, showing how equity considerations are a vital part of the triple bottom line for green buildings. At the November 2005 Greenbuild show in Atlanta, held annually by the US Green Building Council, many of the best minds in the world of green architecture dedicated themselves for three days to holding an eco-charrette on how to respond to Katrina's dispossessed population with affordable green housing. The New Orleans Principles to guide sustainable reconstruction included the following elements: respect the rights of all citizens of New Orleans; restore natural protections of the greater New Orleans region; implement an inclusive planning process; value diversity in New Orleans; protect the city from future flooding; embrace smart redevelopment; and provide for "passive survivability" (defined as the ability to survive without outside services such as electricity or water supplies for some period of time) in the event of a future crisis or systems breakdown.86
Concurrently, the Congress for the New Urbanism held a design charrette for New Orleans homes and came up with some manufactured-housing solutions that would allow houses to be built for about $35,000, with enough room for a family, storage for their goods and a front porch to greet the neighbors.87
Sustainable design proponents and green building designers are working to make sure that the benefits of green buildings reach the entire population; one way to do this is to build green affordable and public housing. Many architects are working on such projects. For example, in September 2004 the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Enterprise Community Partners (formerly the Enterprise Foundation) launched the Green Communities Initiative, a five-year, $550 million commitment to build more than 8,500 environmentally friendly affordable homes across the country.88
Certified as a LEED Gold project, Colorado Court, a 30,000-square-foot, 44-unit single-resident occupancy (SRO) apartment building in Santa Monica, California, was designed to be 100% energy independent, using passive solar design strategies, an onsite gas-fired cogeneration system and solar electric power. The project will save each unit $150 per year on utility bills and is strikingly beautiful as well, showcasing the aesthetic potential of polycrystalline silicon PV panels.
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