The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Brad Pitt's Nonprofit Delivers LEED Platinum Homes to Fort Peck Reservation
Make It Right, the nonprofit organization founded by actor Brad Pitt, has delivered the first five of 20 LEED Platinum, cradle to cradle-inspired homes to the Fort Peck reservation in Montana, home to the Sioux and the Assiniboine nations.
Five families have moved into their brand new, environmentally friendly abodes after the tribes and foundation kickstarted this much-needed housing project more than two years ago.
A photo posted by Make It Right (@makeitright_9) on
The reservation, with a population of 6,000, currently faces a dire housing shortage. About 600 people are in desperate need of housing, according to Make It Right. Overcrowding is also a problem; it's not unusual for multiple families to squeeze together in the same house.
The Make It Right houses are reserved for seniors, disabled veterans and tribe members whose income levels are at or below 60 percent the area's mean income. According to USA Today, there were 127 applications for the homes. Tenants were preselected through a lottery system.
These solar and geothermal powered homes come in several styles and have between 3 to 4 bedrooms and 2 to 3 bathrooms each. With these green building features, the homes are 75 percent more energy efficient compared to conventional homes, which translates to utility bills that are less than $60 a month even in the winter, USA Today reported.
Additionally, through a Low Income Housing Tax Credit Rent-to-Own program, the tenants will get to buy their homes after 15 years of renting.
In a recent blog post to celebrate November's Native American Heritage Month, Make it Right shared the story of a Fort Peck resident named Melissa who moved into her new home with her two children, Zoey and Aiden, in the first week of November.
"It has changed us in big and small ways," she said. "We now live much closer to my parents and extended family."
Melissa is also paying much less for utilities, which used to cost her $160 a month or more.
"In our new solar-powered home, we will pay less than half of our old bill, even in the harsh Montana winter, even in a much bigger house," she said. "I am using the savings to do more activities with Zoey and Aiden on the weekends."
In 2013, Make It Right architects and designers spent four days meeting with tribe members before developing their designs. Tribe members explained that many homes in the area are rife with black mold and structural problems, resulting in high utility bills due to inefficient design.
USA Today reported that the homes cost around $235,000 each. The tribes are doing $2 million to $3 million in infrastructure work, including installing roads and sewer and water lines, said Deb Madison, a board member of the tribes' company, Integrated Solutions.
Besides their work in Fort Deck, Pitt's nonprofit notably built 150 sustainable homes in Louisiana’s Lower Ninth Ward post-Hurricane Katrina. Make It Right has also built homes in Newark and Kansas City.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Jared Kaufman
Eating a better diet has been linked with lower levels of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. But unfortunately 821 million people — about 1 in 9 worldwide — face hunger, and roughly 2 billion people worldwide are overweight or obese, according to the U.N. World Health Organization. In addition, food insecurity is associated with even higher health care costs in the U.S., particularly among older people. To help direct worldwide focus toward solving these issues, the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals call for the elimination of hunger, food insecurity and undernutrition by 2030.
mevans / E+ / Getty Images
Calls for Radical Climate Action Grow Louder as NOAA Reports Last Month Was Hottest June Ever Recorded
By Jessica Corbett
As meteorologists warned Thursday that temperatures above 100°F are expected to impact two-thirds of the country this weekend, U.S. government scientists revealed that last month was the hottest June ever recorded — bolstering calls for radical global action on the climate emergency.
By John R. Platt
For years now conservationists have warned that many of Madagascar's iconic lemur species face the risk of extinction due to rampant deforestation, the illegal pet trade and the emerging market for the primates' meat.
Yes, people eat lemurs, and the reasons they do aren't exactly what we might expect.