Rebuilding green homes in Louisiana

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In partnership with the city of Mandeville, La., The Salvation Army initiated a new program – EnviRenew – to grant 25 essential community workers such as teachers, police officers and public works employees $75,000 to build environmentally friendly homes in this area hit hard by Hurricane Katrina.

EnviRenew is already helping people rebuild in the Broadmoor and Riverview neighborhoods on the south shore.

The Mandeville City Council set aside $25,000 to add to the $2 million The Salvation Army has committed to EnviRenew in the city.

Program proponents say they hope the money will make a dent in St. Tammany Parish’s affordable-housing problem. As the costs of both renting and buying a home have risen, workers with modest salaries have sometimes found themselves priced out of the market.

“It’s a wonderful, just unbelievable opportunity for 20 to 25 families in Mandeville, ” said Councilwoman Trilby Lenfant.

The cost of building each home, including land acquisition, is expected to be about $200,000. The recipient must obtain a mortgage for the amount not covered by the grant.

The homes will fit in with Mandeville’s architectural character and will be certified according to a rating system known as LEED, for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. If possible, each home will be fitted with solar panels to reduce long-term energy costs.

The Tulane Regional Urban Design Center will oversee the planning, beginning with the identification of neighborhoods and sites that might be suitable for EnviRenew houses, and will hold public workshops to present its findings.

The Tulane staff will also design prototype houses, giving future neighbors a chance to comment. The Salvation Army will supply architects, green-building experts, legal consultants and other contractors.

The houses are expected to be complete by mid-2011.

From The Times-Picayune online at

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