The Green City

Let's make New Orleans The Big, Sustainable Easy

| September 29, 2005

President Bush reportedly said that New Orleans should become a 'shining example for the whole world.' Timothy Lange, writing for Grist, agrees. But Lange, unlike Bush, has a green renaissance in mind. Here are some of the steps he's laid out for creating 'Eco New Orleans:'

Stop abusing the coast. Lange calls for full funding of 'Coast 2050,' a proposed wetland restoration project with a $14 billion price tag that the Bush administration has generally opposed. Furthermore, oil and gas drilling is a drain on the Gulf Coast's resources that must stop if the region is to ever heal. Lange notes that the removal of trillions of cubic feet of natural gas and millions of barrels of oil may have precipitated the loss of wetlands by lowering them into the sea.

Grow smart. Create walkable, diverse communities plugged into sustainable energy with a variety of transportation modes. New Orleans, like the US, can only achieve independence from fossil fuels by turning to renewable sources like wind turbines and solar power.

Mimic what's working. Green Communities is a five-year, half-billion dollar program that's working to create more than 8,500 green homes for low-income Americans. Lange promotes expanding Green Communities tenfold in New Orleans.

Lange isn't alone in his green brainstorming. As Denis DuBois writes on, '[T]here is a unique opportunity, here: Make sure every new roof is a solar roof.' DuBois calls for rebuilders to keep the ecological footprint of every structure in mind, and hopes that lawmakers will give the region a shot in the arm -- i.e., cash -- to make this happen. Until now, sustainable energy innovations have been stalled by their lack of economic viability, but an eco-friendly New Orleans would jump-start green markets and bring sustainable living within reach of the general population.

The New Orleans Build Better Project, which Utne is helping to sponsor, hopes to raise $1 million through grassroots and corporate donations. Winners of a sustainable-design contest will put the money toward green, low-income housing.

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