Hollywood stars are using their powers for good.

In 2006, Brad Pitt entered into a partnership with Global Green USA. They sponsored a design competition to provide an opportunity for homebuilders to act on “creative yet practical” visions to implement green building and sustainable design into the rebuilding of New Orleans. The winning design, submitted by Matthew Berman and Andrew Kotchen of Workshop/APD in New York, currently is being carried out to build five homes and an 18-unit, low-income apartment complex in the city’s Lower Ninth Ward.

“It is our hope that this competition will generate and uncover new and innovative ideas, which will advance the practicalities of responsible architecture, as well as spark a long overdue rebuilding effort for the people of New Orleans,” Pitt said. “Honoring the traditions of this unique city and the voice of its residents, our goal is to create designs and ideally built projects for neighborhoods, which are stable, beautiful, sustainable and affordable. This competition asks the question ‘Can this catastrophe be turned into opportunity? Can we create for these neighborhoods and its families something even better than they had before?’ We encourage anyone with an idea to get involved.”

When the project is finished, Global Green USA will sell the houses, with preference given to former residents of the community who were forced to leave by the Hurricane Katrina disaster. Residents will save 75 percent on energy bills.

The houses and apartments will feature solar photovoltaic panels on the rooftops with maximum exposure to the sun. All lighting will be through compact fluorescent light bulbs, and all appliances are Energy Star-rated for efficiency.

A soy-based material will insulate the homes, and the houses will feature a second-floor terrace planted with grass, which will add to insulation. The grass also will collect rainwater and deposit that water into a cistern used for flushing toilets and watering the landscaping. When the project is finished, it will attain platinum LEED status.

“The utility bill is useless,” Pitt said. “It is unnecessary.”

Visit http://holycrossproject.globalgreen.org to download the winning design.    EC