SBP named 2024 Excellence in Sustainable Development Award Winner

SBP (formerly St. Bernard Project) is a nonprofit founded in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

Their mission is to “shrink the time between disaster and recovery” by providing disaster preparation and recovery support for 10 communities in the US and Caribbean islands.

You can learn more about their organization at

The founders (Liz McCartney and Zack Rosenburg) put their careers on hold to spend a year in New Orleans to help re-house over 400 families, but they felt things were moving too slowly. They wondered how they could speed up the process of getting people home. By serendipity, they were connected with the Toyota Production System Support Center (TSSC), and over the ensuing months, they and their staff learned how to apply Toyota Production System (TPS) principles to their work processes.

This collaboration with Toyota resulted in the following improvements:

  • The time it takes to rebuild a home dropped from an average of 116 days to 60 days (48% improvement)
  • Amount of houses being rebuilt per month jumped from 8.6 to 12.8

They documented their journey in a book, called “Getting Home” which describes the improvement jounrey with TSSC in New Orleans.

They later realized they needed to expand their efforts outside of New Orleans without taking away much-needed resources in that area. An unforuntate opportunity arose in Joplin, Missouri in 2011. Rebuild Joplin became the “first” affiliate of SBP, and they were able to apply what they learned from TSSC, and reduce the time it took to reconstruct a home from an average of 62 days to 41 days (34% improvement).

In April 2021, the La Soufrière volcano erupted on the main island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The eruption resulted in 41,216 damaged homes, of which 3,240 were moderately and 104 were severely damaged. They figured out that the volcanic ash could be repurposed in concrete to help in the rebuilding effort. SBP began using a portable block-making machine and hiring local laborers from the impacted communities to produce concrete blocks near the ash collection sites, while reducing the amount of cement required by 15%. They again relied on SBP’s continuous improvement model, based on the Toyota Production System, to design a sustainable process for brick production, while continuing to find and eliminate waste in the process.

They also have had a connection with IISE over the years, offering to share their experiences and journey with our members:

For their commitment to long-term continuous improvement around sustainable development, we have awarded SBP the 2024 IISE Excellence in Sustainable Development Award, joining past winners dating back to 2019.

If you’d like to thank SBP for their efforts, please consider a donation to help their mission!

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