Building a Greener Greensburg
Last year, we wrote about a progressive green community with a fitting name–Greensburg, Kansas–that continues to set new standards in eco-development.
After a May 2007 tornado ravaged this town of 1,500 residents, the community voted to rebuild Greensburg as energy-efficient as possible. According to a New York Times article, community leaders’ goals were to “build a sense of economic dynamism that would generate new businesses and jobs and persuade Greensburg’s talented young people not to leave.”
One of the newest additions to the town, the Sun Chips Business Incubator (above), is designed to help local businesses recover after the tornado. The Business Incubator, completed in May 2009, received a LEED Platinum rating, the highest rating possible, due to its greater than 50% energy savings and innovative water reuse system. Strategic window placement and skylights allow the Incubator to be mostly day lit, while photovoltaic panels mounted on the roof supply 10% of the building’s energy needs. Water from the sinks and showers is collected and reused to flush the toilets.
Greensburg is also the first U.S. city to have 100% LED street lighting (left). The project, completed in February 2009, involved replacing the city’s 303 streetlights with LED lamps. Not only will the city save an estimated 70% on energy and maintenance costs, but the lights will allow the residents to star gaze while keeping the roads safely lit. This is because the LED streetlights minimize nighttime light pollution by focusing the lamps down towards the ground.
In just two years, Greensburg has managed to dramatically rebuild while also becoming an example for sustainable communities everywhere. And, with projects like the upcoming Chain of Eco-Homes that will study the most effective and comfortable ways of eco-friendly living, Greensburg shows no sign of stopping anytime soon.
Photos: greensburgks.org (top); Greensburg Greentown (bottom)
- Nat Geo Expeditions