It sure would be nice if New Orleans were rebuilt according to the principles of sustainability, wouldn’t it? In a way that puts it in balance with nature? A way that’s more equitable for the poor and disadvantaged? A way that could serve as an example of state-of-the-art urban design?
… wait for it …
And a pony!
Back in the real world, the same people who ran the "reconstruction" of Iraq are running this gig. Literally: several of the officials who worked in Iraq are being hired by the companies contracted to work in N.O. Money is flooding in, accountability and transparency are completely absent, and the forces of good are being caught flat-footed. Expect travesty.
But still, we can dream. If we did have a responsible, imaginative government, what would the rebuilding process look like? Turns out the editors of Environmental Building News have a fantastic piece about just this subject. Read the whole thing — seriously — but here are the 10 steps they lay out:
1. Institute a Sustainable New Orleans planning task force.
2. Pursue coastal and floodplain restoration as the number-one priority in rebuilding New Orleans.
3. Immediately establish Sustainable New Orleans enterprise-zone businesses to salvage and warehouse building materials from the destruction of New Orleans.
4. Rebuild a levee system around the city that the water engineers of Holland will envy.
5. Create Sustainable New Orleans overlay zoning for the city to ensure that the goals of sustainability, safety, and urban vitality will be followed in the city’s redevelopment.
6. Retain and restore those buildings that can be salvaged.
7. Mandate or incentivize green building.
8. Work with ecologists and fisheries biologists to create more sustainable fisheries for the Gulf Coast.
9. Clean up the new brownfields of New Orleans.
10. Work with industry to clean up the factories along the Gulf Coast.
Read the whole thing. Don’t make me tell you again.