Swiss native Andreas Hoffmann founded Green Light New Orleans in 2006 to assist in the sustainable rebuilding of New Orleans and at the same time offset the pollution of his touring band. What began as one man’s “light bulb moment,” Green Light New Orleans now operates one of the largest energy efficiency programs in New Orleans. Green Light’s free CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) and installation program is arguably the most successful large-scale energy efficient light bulb distribution program in the country. The effectiveness of Green Light’s program lies in the organization’s innovative direct installation approach, which guarantees, to a larger extent than any other method, the resultant energy, emissions, and utility cost reductions.

The goal of the 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. The service is free. Green Light changes awareness as we change the bulbs, planting a seed that shows participants that small changes can make a big difference in combating the effects of climate change and rebuilding sustainably.

In 2010, Green Light New Orleans launched Tip the Block to increase neighborhood impact and connect residents to an array of local resources specific to their interests and needs.

Green Light has expanded its energy efficiency work to include a stronger community health focus and address the fresh food access gap by building free backyard vegetable gardens. Backyard vegetable gardens serve as a tool by which residents can save money on reoccurring costs and reduce their own carbon footprint. Gardens have the added benefit of increasing a family’s access to fresh, affordable produce. Green Light has developed a simple, raised-bed garden system that can be easily reconstructed by volunteers in backyards throughout the city. Green Light provides the tools, resources, and support to help gardeners learn how to maximize their garden yield.

Using the same methodology that helped turn the light bulb program from a small grassroots initiative into a huge community movement, Green Light is aiming to provide households throughout New Orleans with 50-gallon rain barrels, that are painted by local artists. While the rain barrels combat subsidence and flooding, they also make people more mindful of stormwater issues and how their individual, yet collective, actions can actually make a tangible difference . The fact that each barrel is painted by a local artist also helps drive demand for these beautiful conversation pieces. . GLNO’s unique approach differs from most community organizations. Our application process is simple and inclusive and the high participation rate (16 percent of all New Orleans households) is almost completely thanks to word of mouth, which demonstrates the capability of our programs to start a conversation about how community members can work together to create environmental change.

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