The U.S. Department of Energy’s work with the city of Greensburg, Kan., over the past year is bearing fruit, as the city is now rebuilding with a new emphasis on energy-efficient buildings and renewable energy, particularly wind energy. Greensburg was devastated by a tornado on May 4, 2007, after which the city announced its plans to rebuild as a model of sustainability. When Greensburg contacted DOE for assistance, the agency sent a team of experts from its National Renewable Energy Laboratory to conduct studies, develop renewable energy and energy efficient business strategies, and assemble financing and ownership options to produce or procure renewable energy technologies. DOE opened an office in Greensburg and helped the city develop and pass a resolution that all large city buildings achieve LEED Platinum certification, the highest green building rating available under the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system. Greensburg is the first city in the United States to pass such a strict green building requirement.
DOE has invested $1.25 million in its assistance to Greensburg, helping the city to design energy efficient buildings and power the entire town with renewable energy. As Kansas has the third-highest potential of any state for wind energy, Greensburg has decided to develop a 3- to 4-megawatt wind energy system, which is expected to produce enough energy over the course of a year to equal the city’s electricity needs. While the community will still be connected to the electrical grid, the system will also include backup emergency generators that run on biodiesel. During the current fiscal year, DOE will provide Greensburg with a minimum of $500,000 in additional funding for energy-efficient buildings and wind generation technical support.