USA Today – May 10, 2007


Brad Pitt may be in Prague, where his significant other, Angelina Jolie, is filming Wanted. But that won’t stop him from celebrating the fact that today in New Orleans, groundwork begins on the first of five energy-efficient solar homes.

Pitt, a self-described architectural junkie, chaired the design jury that chose the homes’ design. The Global Green USA project is “trying to show the way,” Pitt says. Green building “doesn’t have to cost more. It doesn’t have to look like a spaceship in the desert.”

The homes, which will produce up to 100% of their own electricity, are part of a development that will include 18 apartments and a community center in New Orleans’s hard-hit Ninth Ward. The building is being financed chiefly by the Home Depot Foundation.

Pitt and Jolie have a home in New Orleans and say the city needs green initiatives — and so does the nation.

“What if a home actually created energy instead of consuming it? What if your utility bill could be nothing?” Pitt asks.

He has more plans. He says he’s working on his own green house, north of Santa Barbara. He hopes it will be so efficient and produce so much electricity from solar cells on the roof that it won’t need to be tied into the power grid.

He hopes such examples can help push America toward sustainability, but he doubts it’s possible without a serious national program. To really get there, he says, the country needs something like Project Apollo, the audacious goal set by President John F. Kennedy in 1961 to send a man to the moon within a decade — accomplished eight years later. “It’s going to take a straightforward leader to say, ‘This is Apollo time! We’re going to do this in 10 years!’ I’m hoping, I’m crying, for this man or this woman to show up.”

And for people who want to follow the New Orleans development example, Global Green USA hopes to put the plans up on its website (global later this year, so anyone can build the house that Pitt picked.