Launch Slideshow

As of mid-2011, Make It Right has built 75 new high-performance homes within a 16-block area of the Lower Ninth Ward, restoring a section of this historic and vibrant neighborhood for returning residents after floodwaters from Hurricane Katrina wiped it away. Dedicated to working exclusively with existing Lower Ninth homeowners, Make It Right has succeeded in building not only homes, but also the dignity of families abandoned after the storm.

Case Study: Starting Over in the Lower Ninth Ward

Case Study: Starting Over in the Lower Ninth Ward

  • As of mid-2011, Make It Right has built 75 new high-performance homes within a 16-block area of the Lower Ninth Ward, restoring a section of this historic and vibrant neighborhood for returning residents after floodwaters from Hurricane Katrina wiped it away. Dedicated to working exclusively with existing Lower Ninth homeowners, Make It Right has succeeded in building not only homes, but also the dignity of families abandoned after the storm.

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    As of mid-2011, Make It Right has built 75 new high-performance homes within a 16-block area of the Lower Ninth Ward, restoring a section of this historic and vibrant neighborhood for returning residents after floodwaters from Hurricane Katrina wiped it away. Dedicated to working exclusively with existing Lower Ninth homeowners, Make It Right has succeeded in building not only homes, but also the dignity of families abandoned after the storm.

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    Sara Essex Bradley

    Triumph From Tragedy
    As of mid-2011, Make It Right has built 75 new high-performance homes within a 16-block area of the Lower Ninth Ward, restoring a section of this historic and vibrant neighborhood for returning residents after floodwaters from Hurricane Katrina wiped it away. Dedicated to working exclusively with existing Lower Ninth homeowners, Make It Right has succeeded in building not only homes, but also the dignity of families abandoned after the storm.

  • To address concern that the neighborhood would sacrifice its front-porch culture in the name of raised foundations for flood control, many of the new homes feature a wider and deeper section of seating adjacent to the steps to the front door that encourages interaction at street level. Design by Adjaye Associates, Berlin and London.

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    To address concern that the neighborhood would sacrifice its front-porch culture in the name of raised foundations for flood control, many of the new homes feature a wider and deeper section of seating adjacent to the steps to the front door that encourages interaction at street level. Design by Adjaye Associates, Berlin and London.

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    Sara Essex Bradley

    Stadium Stoop
    To address concern that the neighborhood would sacrifice its front-porch culture in the name of raised foundations for flood control, many of the new homes feature a wider and deeper section of seating adjacent to the steps to the front door that encourages interaction at street level. Design by Adjaye Associates, Berlin and London.

  • The high-velocity conditioned air distribution system employs 3.5- or 4-inch-outside-diameter flexible supply tubes powered by compact modular heating/cooling air handlers to deliver conditioned air more efficiently. Supply tubes and 7- to 10-inch diameter plenums can be woven through the structure without the need to frame chases and feature subtle, wall-mounted outlet covers instead of grill registers. Fewer system connections reduce air and heat loss. Air handlers can be paired with a variety of equipment, including geothermal heat pumps. 800.527.0896. www.unicosystem.com.

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    The high-velocity conditioned air distribution system employs 3.5- or 4-inch-outside-diameter flexible supply tubes powered by compact modular heating/cooling air handlers to deliver conditioned air more efficiently. Supply tubes and 7- to 10-inch diameter plenums can be woven through the structure without the need to frame chases and feature subtle, wall-mounted outlet covers instead of grill registers. Fewer system connections reduce air and heat loss. Air handlers can be paired with a variety of equipment, including geothermal heat pumps. 800.527.0896. www.unicosystem.com.

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    Sara Essex Bradley

    Mini-Duct Air Distribution
    The high-velocity conditioned air distribution system employs 3.5- or 4-inch-outside-diameter flexible supply tubes powered by compact modular heating/cooling air handlers to deliver conditioned air more efficiently. Supply tubes and 7- to 10-inch diameter plenums can be woven through the structure without the need to frame chases and feature subtle, wall-mounted outlet covers instead of grill registers. Fewer system connections reduce air and heat loss. Air handlers can be paired with a variety of equipment, including geothermal heat pumps. 800.527.0896. www.unicosystem.com.

  • The AstroGuard Hurricane Fabric system features a high-strength, high-tenacity ballistic nylon that attaches to pre-installed anchors. The system alleviates the premium cost of impact-resistant laminated windows and/or wind-rated shutters, while the lightweight fabric features a high burst strength rating that resists wind, water, and flying debris in a Category 5 hurricane and folds up for easy storage. Its much easier than trying to nail or screw in panels of plywood over your windows, product coordinator Cesar Rodriguez says. 855.336.6040. www.hurricaneprotection.net.

    http://www.ecobuildingpulse.com/Images/tmpD90%2Etmp_tcm131-961872.jpg

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    The AstroGuard Hurricane Fabric system features a high-strength, high-tenacity ballistic nylon that attaches to pre-installed anchors. The system alleviates the premium cost of impact-resistant laminated windows and/or wind-rated shutters, while the lightweight fabric features a high burst strength rating that resists wind, water, and flying debris in a Category 5 hurricane and folds up for easy storage. Its much easier than trying to nail or screw in panels of plywood over your windows, product coordinator Cesar Rodriguez says. 855.336.6040. www.hurricaneprotection.net.

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    Sara Essex Bradley

    Hurricane Fabric
    The AstroGuard Hurricane Fabric system features a high-strength, high-tenacity ballistic nylon that attaches to pre-installed anchors. The system alleviates the premium cost of impact-resistant laminated windows and/or wind-rated shutters, while the lightweight fabric features a high burst strength rating that resists wind, water, and flying debris in a Category 5 hurricane and folds up for easy storage. “It’s much easier than trying to nail or screw in panels of plywood over your windows,” product coordinator Cesar Rodriguez says. 855.336.6040. www.hurricaneprotection.net.

  • Designed by Thom Mayne at Morphosis Architects in Los Angeles, in collaboration with the UCLA Architecture and Urban Design graduate program, the FLOAT House sits at ground level thanks to its innovative prefabricated polystyrene foam-and-shotcrete chassis.

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    Designed by Thom Mayne at Morphosis Architects in Los Angeles, in collaboration with the UCLA Architecture and Urban Design graduate program, the FLOAT House sits at ground level thanks to its innovative prefabricated polystyrene foam-and-shotcrete chassis.

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    Sara Essex Bradley

    Designed by Thom Mayne at Morphosis Architects in Los Angeles, in collaboration with the UCLA Architecture and Urban Design graduate program, the FLOAT House sits at ground level thanks to its innovative prefabricated polystyrene foam-and-shotcrete chassis.

  • Make It Right sources its solar panels from a wide range of manufacturers through local distribution channels, in part to spread the wealth but also to effectively test systems and report results back to the suppliers and the local utility. The foundation also established a for-profit solar division to optimize state and federal tax credits and other financial incentives and act as a knowledge base and liaison for other builders and developers.

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    Make It Right sources its solar panels from a wide range of manufacturers through local distribution channels, in part to spread the wealth but also to effectively test systems and report results back to the suppliers and the local utility. The foundation also established a for-profit solar division to optimize state and federal tax credits and other financial incentives and act as a knowledge base and liaison for other builders and developers.

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    Sara Essex Bradley

    Solar Panels
    Make It Right sources its solar panels from a wide range of manufacturers through local distribution channels, in part to spread the wealth but also to effectively test systems and report results back to the suppliers and the local utility. The foundation also established a for-profit solar division to optimize state and federal tax credits and other financial incentives and act as a knowledge base and liaison for other builders and developers.

  • Hydromedia allows storm runoff to rapidly filter back into the groundwater while providing the durability necessary for residential streets, driveways, and parking lots. The material experiences minimal compaction and does away with street drainage systems to minimize municipal road maintenance costs and enable narrower streets for a more efficient use of land. It also eliminates standing water and ice formation for greater safety and durability. It helps change the perception of water from a negative into a positive in this neighborhood, Rodriguez says. 703.480.3600. www.lafargenorthamerica.com.

    http://www.ecobuildingpulse.com/Images/tmpD91%2Etmp_tcm131-961873.jpg

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    Hydromedia allows storm runoff to rapidly filter back into the groundwater while providing the durability necessary for residential streets, driveways, and parking lots. The material experiences minimal compaction and does away with street drainage systems to minimize municipal road maintenance costs and enable narrower streets for a more efficient use of land. It also eliminates standing water and ice formation for greater safety and durability. It helps change the perception of water from a negative into a positive in this neighborhood, Rodriguez says. 703.480.3600. www.lafargenorthamerica.com.

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    Sara Essex Bradley

    Pervious Street Paving
    Hydromedia allows storm runoff to rapidly filter back into the groundwater while providing the durability necessary for residential streets, driveways, and parking lots. The material experiences minimal compaction and does away with street drainage systems to minimize municipal road maintenance costs and enable narrower streets for a more efficient use of land. It also eliminates standing water and ice formation for greater safety and durability. “It helps change the perception of water from a negative into a positive in this neighborhood,” Rodriguez says. 703.480.3600. www.lafargenorthamerica.com.

  • The Verve system features hard-wired central panels that can control up to 10 wireless and battery-less light switches and/or receptacles from as far away as 300 feet to serve multiple areas of the house. It really cuts down on the electricians labor and the potential for running wire to the wrong location, especially for a house built using SIPs, Rodriguez says. The wireless and dimmable switches are clipped into wall-mounted brackets to enable mobility. And if you dont like where the switch is or what it does, you can move it and reprogram it at the controller, Rodriguez adds. 877.874.8774. www.vervelivingsystems.com.

    http://www.ecobuildingpulse.com/Images/tmpD8C%2Etmp_tcm131-961868.jpg

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    The Verve system features hard-wired central panels that can control up to 10 wireless and battery-less light switches and/or receptacles from as far away as 300 feet to serve multiple areas of the house. It really cuts down on the electricians labor and the potential for running wire to the wrong location, especially for a house built using SIPs, Rodriguez says. The wireless and dimmable switches are clipped into wall-mounted brackets to enable mobility. And if you dont like where the switch is or what it does, you can move it and reprogram it at the controller, Rodriguez adds. 877.874.8774. www.vervelivingsystems.com.

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    Sara Essex Bradley

    Wireless Lighting Controls
    The Verve system features hard-wired central panels that can control up to 10 wireless and battery-less light switches and/or receptacles from as far away as 300 feet to serve multiple areas of the house. “It really cuts down on the electrician’s labor and the potential for running wire to the wrong location, especially for a house built using SIPs,” Rodriguez says. The wireless and dimmable switches are clipped into wall-mounted brackets to enable mobility. “And if you don’t like where the switch is or what it does, you can move it and reprogram it at the controller,” Rodriguez adds. 877.874.8774. www.vervelivingsystems.com.

  • EnviroGuard is a waterproof sealant, applied to dimensional lumber prior to installation, that provides protection against moisture intrusion, mold growth, pests, and rot. The water-based liquid silicon rubber coating offers a non-toxic solution. Applied at the distributor or lumber supplier or on-site with a sprayer, roller, or brush, its guaranteed to protect any porous surface, including concrete and masonry, for 10 years, the manufacturer says. www.enviroguard.co.nz. House design by Billes Architecture, New Orleans, La.

    http://www.ecobuildingpulse.com/Images/tmpD8A%2Etmp_tcm131-961866.jpg

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    EnviroGuard is a waterproof sealant, applied to dimensional lumber prior to installation, that provides protection against moisture intrusion, mold growth, pests, and rot. The water-based liquid silicon rubber coating offers a non-toxic solution. Applied at the distributor or lumber supplier or on-site with a sprayer, roller, or brush, its guaranteed to protect any porous surface, including concrete and masonry, for 10 years, the manufacturer says. www.enviroguard.co.nz. House design by Billes Architecture, New Orleans, La.

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    Sara Essex Bradley

    Treated Lumber
    EnviroGuard is a waterproof sealant, applied to dimensional lumber prior to installation, that provides protection against moisture intrusion, mold growth, pests, and rot. The water-based liquid silicon rubber coating offers a non-toxic solution. Applied at the distributor or lumber supplier or on-site with a sprayer, roller, or brush, it’s guaranteed to protect any porous surface, including concrete and masonry, for 10 years, the manufacturer says. www.enviroguard.co.nz. House design by Billes Architecture, New Orleans, La.

  • House design by Trahan Architects, Baton Rouge, La.

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    House design by Trahan Architects, Baton Rouge, La.

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    Sara Essex Bradley

    House design by Trahan Architects, Baton Rouge, La.

  • Make it Right, New Orleans

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    Make it Right, New Orleans

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    Sara Essex Bradley

    House design by Make it Right, New Orleans.

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    House design by Make it Right, New Orleans.

  • House design by Billes Architecture, New Orleans, La.

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    House design by Billes Architecture, New Orleans, La.

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    Sara Essex Bradley

    House design by Billes Architecture, New Orleans, La.

  • House design by KieranTimberlake, Philadelphia.

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    House design by KieranTimberlake, Philadelphia.

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    Sara Essex Bradley

    House design by KieranTimberlake, Philadelphia.

  • House design by Billes Architecture, New Orleans, La.

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    House design by Billes Architecture, New Orleans, La.

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    Sara Essex Bradley

    House design by Billes Architecture, New Orleans, La.

Pierre Moses pulls out a smart phone and taps an app that displays the real-time performance of every solar array in the neighborhood. That capability allows him to verify and document the conversion rate of the cells, which helps the systems qualify for the state and federal tax credits that combined to offset purchasing and installation costs up to 80%.

Earlier that morning, the program also alerted him to a ground fault glitch on one of the arrays before it even made a blip on anyone else’s radar. “We can identify and fix problems before they show up on someone’s bill,” he says.

Moses also shares that information with the legion of solar panel, inverter, and supporting component suppliers and installers he manages through Make It Right Solar, a for-profit spin-off of the foundation created to gain tax credits and other subsidies (non-profits are exempt) and serve as a separate knowledge and profit center for a burgeoning local solar industry.

Homeowners also get a peek at the solar monitoring program. “If you give them access to data, it always reduces energy use,” he says, noting that some have installed their own energy monitoring systems. “The more you show them, the more they want to improve.”

Though no MIR homes are specifically designed to achieve a net-zero energy balance, a few residents have adjusted their lifestyle habits enough to meet that mark. “We have some people paying only the monthly connection fee for electricity,” says Rodriguez. The average bill hovers around $50 a month, a 75% reduction from what most were paying pre-Katrina. “The house is no longer a burden to own and operate.”

Examples like that are what’s likely to sustain Make It Right’s mission and inspire others to follow, both in the Lower Ninth Ward and beyond, Darden says. “If we can figure out how to do it in the worst-hot area, there’s no excuse for not applying these strategies to buildings everywhere.”

Rich Binsacca is a contributing editor to EcoHome. To learn more about Make It Right, including a full list of the products specified to achieve its high-performance goals, go to www.makeitrightnola.org.

Rising Up

The Lower Ninth Ward has always been a front-porch community. Though they provided poor protection against a flood, the ranch-style, slab-on-grade homes that dominated the neighborhood before Hurricane Katrina were perfectly suited to that culture.

Returning residents and the Make It Right team were confronted with the dilemma of sacrificing that tradition for the sake of elevated foundations that would better weather another flood; all of the home designs call for a 5- or 8-foot clear space between grade and the living space—except one: the FLOAT House.

Designed by Thom Mayne at Morphosis Architects in Los Angeles, in collaboration with the UCLA Architecture and Urban Design graduate program, the FLOAT House sits at ground level thanks to its innovative prefabricated polystyrene foam-and-shotcrete chassis.

Like a floating dock, the chassis enables the entire 945-square-foot, shotgun-style house to rise up to 12 feet above ground level in the event of a flood. Two steel “masts,” each at one end, guide the chassis as it rises with the water; the masts are embedded in the 45-foot piers that anchor a pair of concrete pads on which the chassis sits.

Even better, the floating foundation contains all of the home’s mechanical runs, which are tethered to their respective services for up to 15 feet before snapping off at designated (and easily replaced) couplings.

Mayne and Make It Right are quick to point out that the FLOAT House is not designed for the occupants to stay in the house during a flood, but that it minimizes catastrophic damage, preserves the home’s integrity and value, and enables an easy and early return to a fully functional house after an event.

They’re also anxious to see the same concept replicated for other flood-prone areas in addition to the Lower Ninth Ward. “The whole thing is made in a factory and shipped to the jobsite on a flatbed,” MIR product coordinator Cesar Rodriguez says, including the foundation and the SIPs used for the home’s walls and roof. “It would be easy to mass-produce.”