I had not been to New Orleans since before Hurricane Katrina, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I found particularly interesting the contrast in architecture that has taken shape as the city has rebuilt following the widespread devastation of Hurricane Katrina – a rebuilding in which SageGlass has recently played a role.
In the days leading up to Labor Day in 2005, New Orleans was ground zero for Hurricane Katrina. This super-storm was the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, resulting in over $100 billion (yes, with a “B”) in damage and over 1,500 lives lost. 53 levees in the city were breached. Eighty percent of the city was flooded. While most residents were evacuated when it was apparent that the storm was turning unexpectedly towards New Orleans, there were still tens of thousands of people left trapped in the city. Famously, many took refuge in the New Orleans Superdome (pictured during the flooding) or the Morial Convention Center (site of this year’s Greenbuild).
Benjamin Franklin High School, a high-achieving school in one of the city’s more under-resourced school districts, experienced more than its share of damage. Roughly half the school was flooded by two feet of water which stood for 30 days after the storm. Mold was everywhere, as you can see in this photo. But, rather than give up, the school quickly regrouped and has come back stronger than ever – as proven by their long-list of National Merit scholars.
SageGlass was part of more than $150,000 in green building products donated to the Benjamin Franklin School’s renovation by our corporate parent, Saint-Gobain, as part of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Louisiana Chapter’s Louisiana Green School Challenge. The program seeks to educate the public about the benefits of green building in real hands-on projects.
Nine units of SageGlass electronically tintable window glass were used to replace a south-facing wall of fixed ribbon windows that were causing solar glare and heat gain problems on the second and third floors of the school. Prior to SageGlass, students worked in dreary classrooms where shades were constantly drawn to block glare while the HVAC systems struggled to keep things cool.
Retrofitting with SageGlass let the students study comfortably in natural light while also serving as a living teaching lab on sustainability and high performance building technologies. The school was also a live case study on the Greenbuild tour this year, the second year in a row that a SageGlass project has been included on the show tour.
As Benjamin Franklin once said, “Energy and persistence conquer all things.”