RSD Wins Green Award
New Orleans' Recovery School District (RSD) has received the U.S. Green Building Council's 2010 Leadership Award, which recognizes the RSD for its "steadfast commitment to rebuilding healthy, high-performing schools for the New Orleans community." The award was presented at the council's 2010 Greenbuild International Conference & Expo in Chicago this month. RSD superintendent Paul Vallas said in a statement that the award is "further evidence that we're moving the right direction."
RSD schools aim for LEED Silver certification, the national standard for green building and energy efficiency. The district plans to complete construction on 17 new and 13 renovated LEED-certified schools by 2013. It most recently broke ground at its William Frantz School (3811 N. Galvez St.) on Nov. 19, a $22 million project to be completed in 2011. It will be LEED Silver certified.
Vallas said the RSD wants to not only construct green buildings but also create positive environments for students to learn. "There is clear and compelling evidence that the greener the buildings — particularly those that maximize natural light — the better children are going to perform academically," Vallas said
Holidays Get the Green Light
Green stores have been popping up on Magazine Street in the Lower Garden District, and several of the businesses formed the Green Light District, a merchant's association that encourages other businesses to go green and sell environmentally friendly products.
To spread awareness about the association, the Green Light District hosts Holiday Shopping Night from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 9. In the 2000 and 2100 blocks of Magazine Street, businesses will don green lanterns and offer food and drinks. The Lady K Jazz Trio will provide music, and children can have their picture taken with a Green Santa Claus, who will educate them about how to be environmentally responsible.
Area nonprofits and green businesses, including The Green Project, a building supply nonprofit promoting sustainability; Phoenix Recycling, a curbside recycling service; the Gulf Restoration Network, which aims to protect and restore the Gulf coast; and Global Green, a green building advocacy and education group; are partnering with stores in the Green District and will share information and offer specials and door prizes. The event is free and open to the public.
The Green Light District consists of Spruce, an eco-friendly design store; ZukaBaby, which offers socially responsible baby products; Green Serene, an eco-lifestyle boutique; Branch Out, a sustainable clothing retailer; and Canopy, a building and design product store. The association is open to any business in the Lower Garden District, from Jackson Avenue to Clio Street and St. Charles Avenue to Tchoupitoulas Street. — Jamie Carroll
Stop Illegal Paint Dumping
The Green Project, along with Tulane's Center for Public Service, the Lake Ponchartrain Basin Foundation and the New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board, teamed up for a campaign targeting illegal paint dumping — tossing old or unused paint down storm drains. Tulane students spread out across the New Orleans area in November to stencil the words "Dump No Waste, Drains To Stream" near storm drains and post flyers warning residents of the environmental and health hazards dumped paint can present. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends municipalities mark storm drains to discourage dumping.
The Green Project offers paint recycling; residents can drop off unused paint and the store will sort and resell it at its warehouse store for $5 to $7 a gallon. Watershed Activities to Encourage Restoration (WATER) uses a similar guerrilla tactic to promote more responsible waste management in watersheds near Maryland and Virgina, surrounding Chesapeake Bay. — Alex Woodward
Fuel from Leftovers
After Thanksgiving, the gluttonous and eco-friendly can unite through Operation REACH's Gulfsouth Youth Biodiesel Project, which is collecting cooking oil used to deep-fry turkeys and turning it into biofuel. From Nov. 29 to Dec. 4, drop off the used cooking oil at eight locations in the city (see the list at www.operationreach.com/grease). Make sure you let the oil cool completely and use a funnel to return it to its original container.
OperationREACH stages campaigns in low-income communities to recruit youth from 16 to 25 years old to start green-collar careers by converting used cooking oil into biodiesel fuel. When enough is harvested, the biodiesel will be distributed to consumers.
The goal of the project is to give students a skill that stimulates eco-friendly consumption in the future and inform cooks of an alternative to disposing of their used oil. Participating students will convert the oil to biodiesel at Louisiana Technical College, where they will learn about engineering, chemistry and environmental responsibility. According to OperationREACH, the oil used to fry a turkey can be converted into enough biodiesel to fuel an 18-wheeler (or any vehicle running on traditional diesel fuel).
Visit www.operationreach.org/grease for more information. — Jamie Carroll