Building a Model Green Community in Greensburg, Kansas

Daniel Wallach, the founder of Greensburg GreenTown, answers questions about how this rural community is rebuilding green and tapping renewable energy.


| November 24, 2009



Greensburg GreenTown organization

On May 4, 2007, an EF5 tornado leveled the town of Greensburg, Kan. Greensburg GreenTown is a grassroots, community-based organization that is helping to rebuild the town as a model green community. Find the organization online at www.greensburggreentown.org.


GREENSBURG GREENTOWN

In May of 2007, Greensburg, Kan., was struck by an EF5 tornado, which killed 11 people and destroyed 95 percent of the buildings in this small southwestern Kansas town. Since that time, Greensburg has made a commitment to rebuilding as a model green community. That effort is already well underway. From city hall, to a new arts center, to the local school, buildings are being constructed with green features such as high performance windows, building integrated solar panels, and geothermal heating and cooling. (You can see photos of some of these buildings in the Image Gallery, and learn much more about specific buildings and their green features by downloading this Greensburg self-guided tour booklet.)

One of the organizations behind the success of this massive green building effort is the nonprofit community group Greensburg GreenTown. Recently, we spoke with Daniel Wallach, the founder and executive director of Greensburg GreenTown. Here’s what he had to say about renewable energy and green building, the challenges facing small rural communities, and the most effective ways to communicate about environmental problems and solutions.

The Idea of a Green Community

How did you first get personally involved with Greensburg?

My wife and I live 35 miles north. We moved from Denver six years ago, and we started a natural foods co-op that included six Greensburg families. After that, I was a rep for natural foods and local gifts from Kansas. Then, the tornado hit about two miles from our house. We were definitely shaken, but we weren’t hit, as our neighbors here in Greensburg were.

In thinking about what we could do, how we could be of service to the community, the idea came up of rebuilding Greensburg as a model green community.

How did that idea get started?

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