By Katie Pohlman

Most people wouldn’t want to spend their Saturdays doing house renovations on a property they didn’t own, but for Historic Green members and volunteers, it’s a passion.

Recently, those volunteers and members gathered for their weekly project in front of 4331 Tracy Ave., an old, run-down looking house. They meet here every Saturday – weather permitting – to work on making this house as energy efficient as possible and livable again. The Affordable Retrofit on Tracy (or ART) house is catty-corner to the Bancroft School Apartments, the catalyst of the rebirth of the Manheim neighborhood.

The ART house was one originally identified by the Manheim Neighborhood Association to be used as a model of affordable renovation techniques for older homes, said Jeremy Knoll, co-founder of Historic Green. But it wasn’t selected to be part of the Manheim project. Historic Green is acting as a subcontractor for Westside Housing Organization to transform the house into a home that meets Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification. The home was originally slated for demolition.

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Jeremy Knoll co-founded Historic Green in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita to help New Orleans restore homes sustainably.

“The neighborhood was interested in making an example project to provide training and really show neighbors and residents that there were ways to make your old home perform even better than new,” Knoll said.

Historic Green conducts workshops for its volunteers before starting new projects, such as insulation work. Experts train volunteers on how to install the product in their own homes.

“We are trying to create a movement of resurgence and reinvestment,” Knoll said. “It’s important to us that volunteers are learning these skills, and at the end of the day, can go home and know what to do when insulating their attic. We’re building a knowledge base both locally and in the city.”

Knoll said they have had many residents come to the workshops and projects. But Historic Green also relies on volunteer groups from Engineers Without Borders and the U.S. Green Building Council to name a few, to help the project along.

Renovating an old house for efficiency

After analyzing all the information about a property and house, Historic Green meets with the developer to discuss what designs will work for the budget and the structure. Once a plan is selected, demolition begins and so does the selection of materials.

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