Andreas Hoffmann founded Green Light New Orleans in 2006. As a traveling musician, he understood the carbon footprint that flying can leave behind and wanted to find a way to combat this. When Hurricane Katrina hit, he wanted to help rebuild the city in a sustainable way, and that led to the birth of this great organization.

Their mission is to provide sustainable solutions to individual homes and encourage collective action to create a more resilient community. They do this through a variety of different ways, tackling different issues that they see. Two of the main issues that they have placed an emphasis on are energy and water.

Energy usage is a huge problem that can be lessened with a simple solution. CFL light bulbs provide immediate energy reduction that can be clearly seen when looking at one’s energy bill. At Green Light, they look to provide these energy efficient light bulbs to anyone that wants to pick them up. The goal of this program is “to have a positive environmental impact by increasing the use of energy efficient light bulbs, helping residents reduce their utility bills, and reducing the carbon footprint of the community.” Hoffman noticed the change years ago when he made the switch and wanted to share it with others. He started with neighbors and friends, and now it has blossomed into one of the largest energy efficiency programs in New Orleans.

To reduce subsidence and flooding in New Orleans, Green Light has instituted a rain barrel program. Jillian Welsh, the volunteer coordinator at Green Light, expresses just how much she loves this program. It is currently their biggest program, and in a city that receives so much rain a year, it is a great way of relieving the strain on the flood pumps, which use a lot of energy in order to divert water. These rain barrels come at a cost share so that everyone, despite their varying financial situations, can have access to their very own rain barrel. Not only do these rain barrels help combat flooding, they also help to make people more mindful of stormwater issues.

Since she has started at Green Light, Welsh has felt much more connected to the city of New Orleans. This city has gone through so much and has shown a great deal of resilience everytime. Being able to give back to this community, whether that be by installing a rain barrel or giving away lightbulbs, and bringing a smile to people’s faces is all she wants to do.

They can’t do it alone, though. For those in the community, there are several ways to help out. Community members can become a monthly donor, or they can volunteer to spend time with Green Light.

When donors make a monetary donation to Green Light, they get the satisfaction of knowing that they are playing a critical role in the success of the organization as well as the betterment of the community. There are also internships for positions like volunteer coordinator and rain barrel installer. For more information, interested individuals can email Welsh at volunteer@greenlightneworleans.org.

The community can also give back by getting a lightbulb or purchasing a rain barrel themselves. Welsh shares, “We are all connected even if your neighborhood doesn’t flood, the water enters in and has an effect on everyone.”

At the end of the day, it is a team effort. No one person can change the world by themselves. Welsh states that at Green Light, “We believe that one small action repeated over and over again can lead to the greater good. If everyone does their part, we can make a big difference.” Green Light New Orleans is doing their part.

 

By Anthony Bui

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