LSU AgCenter’s LaHouse Partners with Builders, Policymakers to Protect Residents, Lower Insurance Costs
March 07, 2023
Making Homes More Resilient and Affordable
For 15 years, LSU AgCenter’s LaHouse has showcased storm-resilient and sustainable home construction methods and materials that are both customizable and cost-effective for Louisiana residents who live with the high risk of flooding and wind damage as well as rising insurance premiums and energy bills. LaHouse, short for Louisiana House, is leveraging $500K from the Louisiana Legislature to bring its more than 250 educational exhibits online and add science-based tools to the Louisiana FloodMaps and Flood Safe Home online portals where residents can evaluate their flood risk and make a plan to break the disaster cycle. LaHouse is also positively impacting Louisiana’s policies, building codes and insurance prices.
“It’s all about providing people with the information and resources they need to get away from disaster-repair-repeat,” said Carol Friedland, director of LaHouse. “People naturally want to live on the coast and near water and there’s a way to do that sustainably, but not if we repeatedly build to fail.”
A long-term partnership between LSU AgCenter’s LaHouse, the Office of Community Development and the Louisiana Housing Corporation—state agencies working to ensure safe and affordable housing for everyone—recently led to a statewide policy change on resilient construction for low-income housing.
“That vision started with LSU’s technical expertise and our strong partnership with LaHouse and OCD when we asked, ‘What is a resilient project?’” LHC Executive Director Joshua G. Hollins said. “Our new standards and guidelines in the 2024 Qualified Allocation Plan are a direct result of what we’ve learned in recent years.”
In addition, statewide building codes are becoming stronger based on LSU research.
“This has the potential to be our greatest contribution,” Friedland said. “Without the support from the legislature, we wouldn’t have been able to generate and share enough data and results with the task force and code council to get to this point this quickly.”
“The current insurance crisis has given us a spotlight on the need for stronger building codes and more resilient construction, but in Louisiana and thanks to LaHouse, we’re already ahead. Because of our work with LSU, we already had in place what we needed to change our building codes. LaHouse predicted this insurance conundrum years ago and helped push the conversation. LSU has been the leading voice and is helping us get to the other side of this crisis.”
Jacquelyn Dadakis, CEO of Green Coast Enterprises and technical committee chair of the Louisiana State Uniform Construction Code Council Freeboard Task Force