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After a Tornado, a Kansas Town Rebuilds Green

After a tornado hit Greensburg, Kansas in 2007, the community decided to become “the greenest town in rural America”

  • Greensburg is among the first towns in the nation to light its streets with LED lamps – saving 70% in energy and maintenance costs and reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 40 tons a year.
  • The National Renewable Energy Lab tested 100 of Greensburg’s recently built homes and found that on average they consumed 40% less energy than the homes they replaced.
  • LEED-Certified buildings in Greensburg include a 32-unit town house complex, an Arts Center (the first LEED Platinum building in Kansas), and a John Deere dealership.
  • Six other buildings – including City Hall and the renovated Kiowa County Courthouse – anticipate receiving LEED certification.
  • The Kiowa County Memorial Hospital, currently under construction, is seeking to become the first LEED platinum critical-access operation in the country.

An excerpt of the article is below. Read the full article at the New York Times.

After a Tornado, a Kansas Town Rebuilds Green
By Keith Schneider
New York Times, September 22 2009

GREENSBURG, Kan. — Even if it were the only one of its kind, Mike Estes’s brand-new, energy-efficient, wind-powered, water-conserving, environmentally sensitive John Deere dealership here would attract considerable attention in Kansas. This is a state that consistently ranks among the top 10 in oil and natural gas production, and routinely elects to Congress skeptics on matters of energy conservation and environmental regulation.

But in July, Mr. Estes’s 28,500-square-foot, $3 million BTI Greensburg dealership (BTI stands for Bucklin Tractor and Implement, the name of the original store, which has since expanded to four locations) earned the United States Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design platinum certification, the highest designation, Six other buildings anticipate LEED certification.

While many of the nation’s biggest cities do not have a single platinum development, BTI was not even the first building in Greensburg to receive it. That distinction goes to the 1,670-square-foot Arts Center at the center of town, designed, built and opened a year ago by graduate students of the University of Kansas School of Architecture. The center is powered by windmills and a bank of solar photovoltaic panels, and heated and cooled by a state-of-the-art geothermal system. It was the first LEED-platinum building in Kansas.

That such visionary development is occurring in this sun-washed, wind-whipped agricultural community of 900 residents can be attributed to a single event: a monstrous tornado in May 2007 that killed 11 people.

An excerpt of the article is below. Read the full article at the New York Times.

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