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Kansas Business Rebuilds Greener After Destruction

January 7, 2010 - 2:37pm


Ninety-five percent of Greensburg, Kan., was leveled by a tornado with 250-mile-per-hour winds in May 2007. One of the many businesses destroyed that spring was the Bucklin Tractor & Implement-Greensburg John Deere dealership, a component of the agricultural community that about 1,500 Kansans call home.

The dealership owners, brothers Kelly and Mike Estes, knew the rebirth of their community depended greatly on access to farm equipment and services, so they and John Deere were among the first to commit to rebuilding in Greensburg.

"The Estes brothers’ commitment was instrumental in the rebuilding of the town as a whole,” says David Jeffers, a manager in John Deere’s Agriculture & Turf Division. “In many small, agricultural communities such as Greensburg, a John Deere dealership is a cornerstone of the economy."

But Kelly and Mike went a step further. As part of a community-wide vision to rebuild better and greener, the brothers decided to construct a new, more energy-efficient facility.

“Going green was important to us to be sure we’re being good citizens of Greensburg and helping the environment,” Kelly says.

Today, the Estes brothers’ dealership is back in business in a new building that incorporates sustainable practices and energy-efficient technologies, including improved insulation, natural lighting, efficient heating and cooling systems, a waste-oil boiler, white roofing, reflective parking lot paving and two small wind turbines.

At 28,000 square feet, the dealership achieves energy savings of nearly 50 percent over similar structures built to code, and it is the largest commercial, prefabricated metal building in the world to achieve a LEED Platinum rating. John Deere promotes the design as a model for retrofits and new construction to dealers nationwide.

In Greensburg, the transformation of the Estes’ dealership created construction jobs and benefitted area construction suppliers. The facility now employs 30 to ­40 workers and provides vital equipment and services to the surrounding agricultural community.

The Estes brothers continue to take their green energy commitment to the next level. Together with their family, they’ve formed a new venture called BTI Wind Energy and have become the North American distributor of the same model of wind turbines they installed at their dealership.  

Rebuilding the dealership gave hope and an economic lifeline to the people of Greensburg as they recover and grow.

 John Deere is a member of DOE’s Retailer Energy Alliance and a Commercial Building National Account, working with the Department’s Commercial Building Initiative to speed development and market adoption of green building technologies. The public-private collaboration between John Deere and DOE is a good example of how special projects throughout the nation are achieving cost-effective, net-zero energy buildings and a more energy-efficient, sustainable future.

The National Renewable Energy Lab, with the support of the DOE, conducted modeling and life-cycle cost analyses to identify the most cost-effective strategies to achieve the owners’ goal of reducing energy costs by 42 percent.