When you think of downtown New Orleans, the only “green” image you may consider is arguably the hand grenade, an icon of the French Quarter. Yet, if you talk to the Downtown Development District, or any tourist for that matter, what you find is a green agenda and a vision for a City that can last beyond the next 100 Century storm. This shift in priorities comes largely from the shifting market in the City. “New Orleans has seen an explosion of entrepreneurs and young professionals, and it is important that our sustainability initiatives cater to this changing business environment,” said McCall, Operations Director for the Downtown Development District. On Friday March 1st business and community members joined LifeCity and the Chamber of Commerce for an informative afternoon focused on efforts to “green” Downtown. Futureproof, Entergy, Core USA and the Downtown Development District discussed topics ranging from a Bike Share Program to LEED certification that are helping to grow the green economy in New Orleans. Businesses can learn from these efforts and enjoy the benefits of reducing energy, preventing flooding, and participating in community-wide transportation improvements – all of which add value to your company and our proud City. When determining why people decide to move downtown, McCall discovered three desired lifestyle attributes: diversity, convenience and environmental quality. McCall spoke of expanding green space downtown in order to give people “ample third spaces”. Improving the “walkability” of downtown as well as public transportation and the development of a bike share program all cater to this broad vision of convenience and quality space making. These simple ideas have a profound impact on the quality of life for those living and working downtown. In addition to the importance of public transportation and walkability, businesses can also create higher quality experiences for the customer during our rain season. In a city that floods easily, businesses can play a role in small-scale solutions that will impress your customer. The solutions proposed by J.O. Evans of Future Proof, for example, are simply adding plant beds in parking lots with aggregate materials beneath them or adding pocket parks to areas that are for the most part covered in cement to prevent flooding. Plant beds and pocket parks help to get rid of floodwaters quickly and efficiently, while the water can be stored beneath them and used for other purposes as well. Any business can improve their customer experience and contribute to proper citywide water management with these techniques. Improving water management features surrounding your business can help you with LEED and LifeCity certification. Tilman Hardy from Core USA discussed the advantages of a LEED certified building, which can increase the building value by as much at 10.9% for new buildings and by 6.8% for existing buildings. Getting a building LEED certified is not only good for the environment, but it benefits the investor as well, facilitating an increase in rental rates and market value. Don’t have the money to do LEED certification, but want to green your building? The good news is that the local Energy Smart program, run by CLEAResult, can provide a FREE lighting upgrade for your business. This program can be leveraged by small and large businesses alike. Downtown, Uptown, or in Mid City – no matter where you are, your business can take advantage of the growing demand for walkable, green places and services in our community. Start greening your business today by utilizing the services below: If your business is interested in finding a certified contractor or becoming a LEED certified building, contact Core USA President, Tilman Hardy, at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on receiving a FREE lighting audit and upgrade, please contact CLEAResult Program Consultant, David Magee, at (504) 388-7317 or email email@example.com. For information on how you can reduce stormwater runoff around your building and prevent flooding through parking lot demonstrations, contact Future Proof, J.O. Evans, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Finally, contact LifeCity to become a Certified Green business and learn through our personal consulting process how each of the above services can best benefit your business: call (504) 909-CITY or email Liz@mylifecity.com.