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Greensburg’s Eco-Renewal

5/8/2009 12:00:00 AM

Tags: Kansas, tornado, eco-friendly, construction, home

Last weekend—the second anniversary of the tornado that destroyed the small town of Greensburg, Kansas—residents invited the public to see its progress toward becoming one of the first green towns in the United States. Greensburg homeowners and business owners have rebuilt much of the town with eco-friendly construction materials. 

In the devastating tornado’s aftermath, Greensburg city officials committed to using 100 percent renewable energy from a wind farm a few miles south and mandated that every city building be built to the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) LEED Platinum standards. 

The Silo eco-home will be a model for smallscale sustainable food production. The roof will be transformed into usable space through the creation of an herb and vegetable garden. Photo Courtesy Greensburg GreenTown. 

GreenTown is a community-owned organization that partnered with city officials to rebuild the town in a sustainable manner. With assistance from the USGBC and Ogden Publications, parent company of Natural Home, Mother Earth News, The Herb Companion and Utne Reader magazines, GreenTown has planned several buildings slated to qualify for LEED Platinum status, including the John Deere dealership, which opened for business in January; Sun Chips Business Incubator building, completed this May; and the Kiowa County Memorial Hospital, which will be complete in fall 2010. In addition to these buildings, the 5.4.7 Arts, a fine arts community center, achieved LEED Platinum level in 2008. 

In addition, GreenTown’s Chain of Eco-Homes project offers 12 model homes that act as “living laboratories.” Constructed of eco-friendly building materials, each home is scientifically monitored to determine how the materials perform. The homes are open to the public as lodging and as an information center. GreenTown broke ground last December and completed two homes on May 4, 2009. It hopes to complete two more homes by the end of 2009 and the remaining eight by the end of 2011.

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