Two years after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, residents are still hard at work rebuilding their homes and businesses. And, according to the Biloxi Sun Herald, local and federal officials are looking to put a silver lining on reconstruction by making rebuilt homes and businesses more energy efficient.

Improvements such as fluorescent lighting, better duct sealing and double-pane windows are being widely encouraged. Although going above and beyond required energy-conservation standards can be expensive, experts point out that high initial costs can be easily recouped. Tax breaks, higher home values and lower mortgage and power bills are just some of the incentives for including energy conservation in rebuilding plans.

An analysis released in June by the Government Accountability Office showed that the Gulf Coast could save as much as $28 million every year in utilities and home expenses by saving energy.   EC