Global Green USA - Holy Cross Project

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Photo Credit: Cameron Conklin



“Help New Orleans rebuild green following Hurricane Katrina by building a sustainable neighborhood with affordable housing and a community center in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, one of the neighborhoods hardest hit by the devastating storm.” [1]

History and Background

After the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and the inadequate response of the US Government, Global Green USA made a commitment to sustainable building in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. As part of that commitment, Global Green, in partnership with Brad Pitt, sponsored an international design competition during the summer of 2006.

Global Green received more than 125 entries competing to design a zero energy affordable housing development in the Holy Cross Neighborhood of the Lower 9th Ward. Matthew Berman and Andrew Kotchen of Workshop/apd in New York designed the winning plan. With the support of Lead Funding Partner Home Depot Foundation, Global Green worked with workshop/apd and a dedicated and highly skilled team of sustainable design and building experts together with the Holy Cross Neighborhood Association to translate the winning development proposal into a reality. [2]

The Project

The Holy Cross Project was designed for five single-family homes, an 18-unit apartment building, and a community center/sustainable design and climate action center. The goal of the project was to achieve LEED Platinum standards (LEED for Home for the single family homes and LEED ND for the other buildings). In order to achieve this, the project sports solar panels, a high performance building design, HVAC systems, a Building Dashboard® energy and resource monitoring system, and energy-efficient appliances. The buildings in the Holy Cross Project use at least 75% less energy than typical buildings. [3]

Single Family Homes

The first home, finished in May 2008, currently serves as a Visitor Center for developers, contractors, and residents to learn how to rebuild green.The remaining four homes were sold to local residents in 2012. Many of them are occupied by leaders of non-profits in the area. The one story homes sold for $110,000 while the two-story homes sold for $130,000. The home will save the residents an estimated $1200 to $2400 a year in utility bills. Using advanced monitoring systems in the home, residents can see their energy and resource consumption in real time, and if they choose, modify their behavior to further lower energy costs. [4]

Community Center

The Community Center at the Holy Cross Project is currently underway! The Community Development and Climate Action Center will feature a community services (e.g., ATM, corner market, etc.), a Visitor’s and Green Building Resource Center, an arts and cultural component, and an emergency center for hurricane preparedness. For emergency needs, a rain water harvesting system will collect water (with filtration bringing it to drinking water standards), and solar panels on the roof of the Center will charge batteries that will provide power for emergency refrigeration (for medicines, etc.), lights and mobile phones in case residents are left without power or are unable to evacuate in an emergency. [5]

Sustainable Design and Climate Action Institute

The Climate Action Center will be held in the Community Center once it is constructed. The aim of the Institute is to be a “Center of Excellence” for the rebuilding of the Gulf Coast. It will demonstrate all aspects of green building appropriate for the Gulf Coast climate zone and provide opportunities for sharing knowledge across the United States, and even globally. Essentially, the institute will be a gathering place for information, knowledge, and leadership generated by the sustainable design and green building activity. Global Green is hoping to create alliances with university and research institutes to tie academic and professional programs to its ongoing work and focus. The institute will also be able to monitor the homes and apartment buildings to study the performance energy systems, energy conservation, IAQ, water efficiency, and system monitoring. [6]

18-Unit Apartment Building

The green affordable housing building will include outstanding views of the Mississippi River and downtown New Orleans, 75% to 90% lower energy bills and all the benefits healthy indoor air quality. These restricted income units will make it possible for low income residents and families to enjoy these unique apartments. The idea behind the apartment building is to stimulate movement back into the neighborhood for those who cannot yet buy. The apartments will be mixed-income housing with 12 units reserved for the 0-60 percent average median income and 6 units will be market rate. The state is currently attempting to block the apartment construction, arguing the cost per unit is too high. [7]

Outdoor Space

The interior courtyard will provide an outdoor gathering area for residents. A pathway through the project to the Mississippi River will have an interpretative learning component and children’s education area that connect to the river levee, community center, visitor’s center, and other sustainable landscaping features such as stormwater runoff capture and cisterns. Future Proof has recently designed and supervised volunteer installation of a one acre, engineered flood mitigating ecosystem (social space/garden) for housing residents. It features wetland and micro forest features to retain, cleanse, and release stored water into the air through evapotranspiration. This reduces pressure on local infrastructure and builds natural canopy. [8]

Mapping Non-Profit Influence: The Case of the Lower Ninth Ward

Global Green is one of many organizations that have worked to restore the Lower Ninth Ward after Hurricane Katrina. As part of a larger study of the impact and networks of of non-profits in 2013 (please see Mapping Non-Profit Influence: The Case of the Lower Ninth Ward for more details), we can see that this organization excels in the following areas:


1. Access to consumers regardless of ability to pay
While the Homes and Apartments are not free, they are supplemented to sell below market rate to target lower income families.

2. Provisions of collective goods
Global Green provides a collective good through their Community Center and Climate Action Institute. These serve as public spaces available to all Lower Ninth Ward residents to utilize and learn about sustainable building practices.

Participation in Information Sharing

1. Research
Global Green is involved in research through their Sustainable Design and Climate Action Institute. This portion of the project serves to enhance and evolve green building technology for the Gulf Coast region. It utilizes the homes and apartments at Global Green as sites for monitoring to expand technology.

2. Networking
As a national organization, Global Green is very connected. In the Lower Ninth Ward they have connections to 5 organizations in this study (CSED, Sierra Club, Historic Green, Groundwork NOLA, and Make It Right).

3. Social Change
Global Green is working towards social change by promoting sustainable and environmentally friendly building practices. Their buildings are of the highest LEED standard and they are continuing to make them even more energy efficient and safe for the sustainability of New Orleans.


  • Global Green USA, Global Green New Orleans, August 17th 2013, “”
  • Global Green USA, Global Green New Orleans, August 17th 2013, “”
  • Global Green USA, Global Green New Orleans, August 17th 2013, “”
  • Global Green USA, Global Green New Orleans, August 17th 2013, “”
  • Global Green USA, Global Green New Orleans, August 17th 2013, “”
  • Global Green USA, Global Green New Orleans, August 17th 2013, “”
  • “Global Green USA”, The Trumpet, Volume 2, Issue 7, Page 28
  • “Global Green USA”, The Trumpet, Volume 2, Issue 7, Page 28

This page was last modified on 17 August 2013, at 04:32


Global Green USA - Holy Cross Project Visitors Center

409 Andry St., New Orleans, LA