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Technical Assistance in Greensburg, Kansas

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and its National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) began providing energy efficiency and renewable energy technical assistance to Greensburg, Kansas, in June 2007, just one month after a devastating EF-5 tornado. Because of the near-complete devastation of Greensburg, comprehensive planning was essential to rebuilding.

DOE/NREL technical assistance in Greensburg focused on:

Master Plan for Rebuilding Green

For 3 years, DOE/NREL experts worked with city leaders, business owners, residents, and other state, federal, and local agencies to identify ways to incorporate energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies into the town's rebuilding efforts.

During the first phase of planning, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) led the development and completion of a long-term recovery plan in August 2007. The second planning phase, led by the community planning and architectural firm Berkebile Nelson Immenschuh McDowell (BNIM), resulted in a Sustainable Comprehensive Master Plan adopted by Greensburg City Council in May 2008.

The residents also formed a non-profit organization, Greensburg GreenTown, to provide resources and support as Greensburg rebuilds.

High-Performance Buildings

DOE/NREL provided education, training, energy modeling, and onsite assistance to help Greensburg set these aggressive energy efficiency goals:

  • All new homes use 30%-40% less energy than before the tornado
  • New city buildings achieve the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Platinum certification
  • Other commercial and public buildings designed to LEED Platinum or Gold rating levels.

Learn more about Greensburg's high-performance buildings.

Community Wind Energy

Located in the state with the third-highest potential for wind energy in the country, Greensburg decided to pursue a plan to use wind to supply power to the community. In support of that goal, DOE/NREL:

  • Conducted detailed computer modeling and site measurements and analysis of Greensburg's wind resource
  • Worked with local utility partners, the Kansas Energy Office, and potential power providers to help Greensburg officials pursue construction on a 12.5-megawatt wind farm.

Distributed Renewable Energy

Distributed-scale renewable energy is typically made up of small systems located on homes and businesses. DOE/NREL made several contributions to facilitate installation and ownership of these systems in Greensburg, including:

  • Recommended solar- and wind-friendly city ordinances
  • Drafted safety and reliability ordinances, inter-connection agreement, and net-metering policies to help local distributed system owners get the most value for electricity sent back to the grid
  • Completed studies on potential local and regional biomass resources for providing heat to buildings or local industries
  • Assisted with planning for 50-kilowatt wind turbines at the hospital and school; several small turbines at the BTI-Greensburg John Deere Dealership; solar photovoltaic systems on the City of Greensburg SunChips® Business Incubator; and light emitting diode streetlights in major portions of the community.

Alternative Transportation

DOE/NREL completed a study that outlined opportunities for Greensburg to use electric and hybrid-electric vehicles, as well as alternative fuels and filling stations.

Education and Outreach

The technical assistance provided to Greensburg by DOE/NREL resulted in extensive education and outreach efforts at several levels. Learn more about these efforts.