Stone World

Rebuilding a New Orleans neighborhood with sustainable products

April 2, 2012
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Founded by actor and activist Brad Pitt, the initiative of the Make It Right Foundation is to build 150 affordable, green, storm-resistant homes for families returning to New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward, where more than 4,000 homes had been destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. And in keeping with the objective of sustainable design, EcoTM by Cosentino — a line of eco-friendly countertop and surfacing material composed of 75% recycled material — has partnered with the Make It Right Foundation to donate Eco countertops for the new homes.

“We first learned about Make It Right through the big media splash that was created when the Foundation started,” said Lorenzo Marquez, Vice President of Marketing for Cosentino North America. “After a few months, we were contacted by Make It Right to be part of this project, as they needed a truly sustainable surface to replace the laminate tops they were using for kitchen and bath surfacing.

“Eco by Cosentino is a product that naturally fits into a project like Make It Right,” Marquez went on to say. “The green characteristics of our product greatly complement the green-building practices established by Make It Right and provide an eco-friendly surface to homeowners in the process of rebuilding their lives. We are proud to be a part of a project like this because it provides us with an opportunity to give back.”

From the start, the Make It Right Foundation relied on the generosity of acclaimed local, national and international architects who donated their cutting-edge designs for single-family homes and duplexes, including Gehry Partners, GRAFT and William McDonough + Partners. According to the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), “Make It Right” is building the largest, greenest neighborhood of single-family homes in America.” Make It Right homes have earned the highest distinction for energy efficiency and sustainability, LEED Platinum, by integrating and aggregating a variety of cutting edge construction materials and techniques.

According to Marquez, project managers were responsible for selecting Eco based on the green specifications provided by the architects. “Another great thing about Make It Right’s project in New Orleans is that consumers get to choose many of the items that go into their future home,” he said. “We provided up to 10 color choices to be selected, which include Starlight, Crystal Ash and White Diamond.”

Cosentino donates the slabs, and Make It Right then works with local contractors to fabricate the countertops. “We’re working with Make It Right’s local teams to execute the project,” explained Marquez. “They have a project management team lead by Cesar Rodriguez, who is an extremely talented and dedicated member of Make It Right.”

At the present time, Cosentino has donated product for kitchen countertops and bathroom vanities for 16 of the completed Make It Right homes. “Moving forward, our goal is to [continue to] support Make It Right and have Eco countertops in each of the completed homes,” said Marquez. “We have been working on this project for over two years and will continue to do so.”

Although each house is different, based on the architectural design and the designing firm, each kitchen countertop measures approximately 35 square feet with a thickness of 2 cm. Product selections for the Make It Right homes are strictly evaluated based on C2C thinking, developed and popularized by architect William McDonough, which suggests that everything we create can contribute positively to society, the economy and the environment. The William McDonough + Partners team helps guide the design process and materials used in the new Make It Right homes. Both the products and construction methods used must be safe for people and the environment.

“On behalf of Brad Pitt and Make It Right, we are thrilled to be a part of Eco by Consentino’s endeavors,” stated Tom Darden, Executive Director of Make It Right. “We rely on the generous product donations from companies like Cosentino and cannot thank them enough for helping us to rebuild this great city.”

According to Marquez, homeowners have been extremely satisfied and happy with the overall performance look of Eco by Cosentino in their home. “They are able to get the look of natural stone with a green and durable surface,” he said. “With these new homes and kitchens, Cosentino and Make It Right are helping to enhance the lives of families who are now equipped with the tools and space to cook healthy meals for their families in their own home, in turn, improving their entire lifestyle. In this way, the project goes beyond Cosentino’s commitment to providing stunning kitchens for these homes. It underscores the purpose and goal of Make It Right and highlights the project as an initiative that Cosentino strongly supports.”