New Orleans grassroots movement for all things green now has a face and a home. The Alliance for Affordable Energy opened the doors to its BuildSmart Learning Center last night, providing the New Orleans community with a resource facility to not only learn about the benefits of sustainable development, but see them put to use in a tangible and hands-on facility. For a city constantly evolving in the rebuilding process, why not build on the cutting-edge of sustainable development?
In the unassuming Art Egg Building under the Broad Street overpass, the 2,500 square-foot facility serves homeowners, builders, or anyone who needs advice changing a light bulb. A life-sized shotgun house inside the facility showcases dozens of different practical applications and tips, from the very simple like replacing your gas water heater with a tankless one, or using nontoxic cleaning supplies to the latest in solar panels, steel-beam construction, insulation and everything in-between. The cut-away house turns sometimes abstract and difficult changes for the everyday homeowner into realistic (and extremely cost-effective) solutions.
Now that en(t)ergy costs are hitting the pocketbook, the center provides an invaluable resource to help save money while saving the environment. The center provides how-to workshops and an expanding library and resource area with plenty of information for DIY projects.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) also announced New Orleans as one of the 25 cities to receive the DOEs Solar American Cities Award $450,000 in federal aid to integrate solar technology into the city. The city will draft a plan to incorporate and expand solar technology, hoping to stimulate the marketplace with a demand for all things solar and create a new job market for sustainable contractors, builders and businesses.
The center, in turn, hosts a Workforce Training Program for Energy Efficient Building Practices, providing young people an opportunity to learn about and gain hands-on experience for future green jobs.