With the building gutted, rebuilding efforts could begin. Shortly after Katrina, Dr. Dyer hosted a meeting with members of the Alliance for Affordable Energy attending and others interested in ArtEgg’s future. Dr. Dyer, uncertain of how to proceed and wrangling with her insurance companies over her damages, decided to redo ArtEgg, “. . . as a showcase for sustainable design elements.” Dr. Dyer’s efforts to rebuild were hindered, “. . . because there was both wind damage and water damage.”
Dr. Dyer’s insurance carriers (wind/storm and flood) were arguing between themselves about the damage and who should make the pay-outs—a common problem in the city post-Katrina. The flood insurance company claimed that the damage sustained were due to wind and storm, while the wind/storm carrier countered that the damages incurred due to flooding.
Dr. Dyer hired public adjustors to negotiate on her behalf with the insurance companies. The adjustors arranged for a settlement with the insurance companies, with flood insurance covering the damages sustained on the first floor and wind/storm compensating Dr. Dyer for the destruction of the roof and second floor, maxing out both policies in the process. By March of 2007, seven months after the hurricanes, Dr. Dyer received her insurance settlements. “. . . if I hadn’t had two floors, I’d still be in litigation.”
While Dr. Dyer had arranged for the roofs to be tarped between Katrina and Rita (to the tune of $3,000 to $4,000), “It didn’t do any good,” according to Dr. Dyer. Once the rebuild got underway, estimates to repair the roof ranged upwards of $400,000. A combination of monies, including the insurance settlements and a grant from the Baton Rouge Community Foundation, permitted Dr. Dyer to repair the five roofs, though the front dock roof did not get fully repaired.
With the roof being attended to, Dr. Dyer turned her attention to rebuilding the interior of ArtEgg. Post-storm, the Alliance for Affordable Energy decided to stay in ArtEgg, though the Alliance largely worked out of one of the founder’s home, “. . . until January of 2007,” as stated by Forest Bradley-Wright, the Alliance’s Sustainable Rebuild Coordinator. The Alliance for Affordable Energy felt that ArtEgg presented a good opportunity to showcase green building (which includes recycling, using non-toxic materials, using to advantage the environment), clean energy (energy efficiency and renewable energy), and sustainable building.
Bradley-Wright organized New Orleans’ first Build Smart Expo on behalf of the Alliance in April of 2006. The Expo featured, “”. . . efficient, affordable, and healthy living with modern, environmentally responsible materials.”” The Build Smart Expo gave rise to, “. . .a vision for establishing an educational resource center in the space and for really
The donations and the practice of gifting permitted Dr. Dyer and the Alliance to rebuild ArtEgg in a sustainable, environmentally friendly manner. Gifting allowed interested companies to donate materials with Dr. Dyer paying only the shipping costs. Among the gifts received included the red EnviroGlas floor (made from 100% post-consumer glass and porcelain combination; it is located in the first floor community kitchen) and 5,000 square foot bamboo flooring (located on the second floor).
Other environmentally friendly products consisted of homasote wall board (made from recycled paper with water resistant properties), six Sharp solar panels (placed on the back roof), two solar tubes (used to transport or disperse natural or artificial light with energy saving and better heat insulation properties), dual-flush toilets (features two handles to flush two different levels of water and relies on gravity to eliminate waste from the toilet), and low-flow sinks (“. . . uses just enough water to be effective,” from Ecomii.com; Low-Flow Fixtures).
Dr. Dyer and the Alliance also employed the green strategy of recycling original building elements, with the original tongue and goove flooring formerly located in the atrium and various closets on the second floor being salvaged for reuse in the individual second floor units. The flooring received environmentally friendly treatment, being cured with skim milk rather than the more traditional polyurethane-based finishes. “The first thing we got was a refrigerator so we could have the skim milk,” remembers Dr. Dyer. This skim milk curing is a process used in Lapland, a region in Finland and Sweden. The rebuild also permitted Dr. Dyer to remove the”wavy plastic” in the second floor windows and be replaced with glass windows “culled” from the Green Project.
As well, Dr. Dyer also had the opportunity to address energy usage issues at ArtEgg, introducing clean energy strategies to the building. This included a shift to flourescent lighting and cutting the electricity to the doors of the coolers. These changes cut ArtEgg’s electric bill nearly in half. Furthermore, Dr. Dyer had the chance to correct the out-of-date sprinkler system, replacing 938 sprinkler heads in the process.
“I think at the end of the day the building is definitely a lot stronger and more attractive than it was before,” said Bradley-Wright. With the rebuild complete, Dr. Dyer and ArtEgg prepared to reopen their doors to the city of New Orleans.