By Grey Lee

As Greenbuild draws to a close, the local Louisiana Chapter of USGBC hosted a few tours of their city and state so attendees could see more of the situation of green buildings in the area.  Folks could check out the Make It Right projects in the Lower Ninth Ward green buildings at Tulane, the Broadmoor neighborhood and other locations throughout New Orleans.

The Mississippi Chapter provided a big tour out into their gulf coast areas affected by Katrina and other weather events. I joined this tour to see a school, a fire house, a community center and some homes that have been re-built to FEMA 361 standards (seriously heavy-duty) and are helping the communities recover and become more resilient.

We got on the bus at 8am on Saturday to head east. First we took a little tour of the Pearl River to see some of the local fishing communities. And some alligators.

 Then into Hancock County, Mississippi to see the new LEED-certified elementary school.

 The kids are very happy to be in a LEED building, and learning about sustainability every day.

 Their cafeteria was built to be an emergency shelter in the event of a major hurricane or tornado situation.  The glass is half an inch thick and the roof can withstand a direct hit from an oil barrel full of concrete.

We went on to see the new firehouse at Bay St. Louis on the coast.  This was also built to FEMA 361 standards for rigor in the event of a major storm – wind and/or flooding event.  We did not get to try the firepole.

The apparatus bays (the garage) and the facility have features to improve the safety of the first responders and create a secure location to manage disaster intervention communications.  One interesting note was that about half the firefighters have the last name “Farve”.  Yes, we are near a famous quarterback's hometown and these are all his relatives.
Here I am next to Shannon Stage, my friend and colleague who is the executive director for the Lousiana Chapter of the USGBC.
The last stop of the day was also in Bay St. Louis where a drainage ditch (similar to below) near the old coastal train tracks (which are actually still in use) has been re-designed into a community asset – a beautiful pond.

Nowadays, the area has become a major local attraction – there are ducks & geese and plenty of benches to observe.  It was a great installation.  Notice the cypress trees right there in the water! 


It was a great day of touring some wonderful and hopeful places.  I hope I can visit again sometime and maybe spend some time on the beautiful Gulf Coast Beaches we saw!

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