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Brad Pitt‘s Make It Right Foundation built 100 energy-efficient homes in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward to house victims of Hurricane Katrina. However, some of the new structures are rotting, according to a new report.
About 30 homes have decks and stairs built with a glass-infused wood product called TimberSIL, according to The Advocate. The material is advertised as offering “an effective barrier in lumber to rot, decay and common wood problems without using toxic ingredients,” and it is then ready to be mulched and composted after its guaranteed 40-year life span.
“In trying to be sustainable and green, we didn’t want to use decking lumber that had chemicals in it,” Make It Right spokesperson Taylor Royle told the publication. The homes are also equipped with other eco-friendly features, such as solar panels and rainwater collectors.
But the wood is already showing signs of rot and described as taking on a dark gray tinge in homes built as recently as three years ago, The Advocate reports.
“It was unable to withstand moisture, which obviously is a big problem in New Orleans,” said Royle, who says the foundation has contacted the manufacturer “to put them on notice of the defects in the product and to seek to recoup our costs.” It also is considering legal action against the manufacturer. “We prefer to resolve this short of litigation, but we are prepared to pursue all legal remedies if necessary.”
While not all 30 homes show signs of rot, Pitt’s foundation plans to replace all potentially hazardous TimberSIL wood over the next six months, a $150,000 expense. Resident Robert Green said he didn’t notice the damage until workers showed up at his door to fix it.
“Make It Right is ambitious and tries new things all the time in order to make our homes better,” said Pitt in a statement. “Where we find innovative products that didn’t perform, we move quickly to correct these things for our homeowners.”
TimberSIL’s executive vice president Joel Embry said the company will look into the complaints.
“TimberSIL is well aware of the good work of Make It Right Foundation and regrets that these concerns have arisen,” he said, maintaining his faith in the innovative product. “With limited information regarding matters of storage, installation and finishing, it is difficult to determine the conditions and circumstances that underlie the performance questions that have been raised.”
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