Greensburg Rebuilds Sustainably

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Location Greensburg, Kansas
Partners Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)
Berkebile Nelson Immenschuh McDowell

On May 4, 2007, a tornado destroyed or damaged 95% of the homes and businesses in Greensburg, Kansas. The town turned disaster into opportunity and created a plan to rebuild as a sustainable community with the help of a diverse group of experts, including the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

Greensburg Greentown 

The residents of Greensburg formed Greensburg Greentown, a nonprofit organization, to provide resources and support as the town rebuilt. The organization worked in tandem with other project partners to:

  • Engage businesses and residents
  • Make it easier for builders, building supply companies, and local businesses to do business “green”
  • Spur “green” economic development
  • Serve residents as a consumer advocate to get them the best value for their money as they rebuilt their homes and businesses.

Background

For three years, DOE and 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.

Through energy modeling, education, training, and onsite assistance, DOE and NREL helped renovate and rebuild homes in Greensburg that, on average, use 40% less energy than similar buildings built to code—surpassing the 30% energy savings goal the town originally set.

Highlights

The town of Greensburg focused on rebuilding to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certifications, achieving many “firsts” for the country and the state of Kansas, including:

  • The first LEED Platinum municipal building in Kansas (SunChips® Business Incubator)
  • The first LEED Platinum critical access hospital in the United States (Kiowa County Memorial Hospital)
  • The first residential LEED Platinum building in Kansas (Prairie Pointe Townhomes).

During the planning phases for rebuilding the town, DOE and NREL provided resource analysis, feasibility studies, and business plans to show Greensburg how it could meet its commitment to rely as much as possible on locally generated wind power. With this information in hand, the City of Greensburg, John Deere Renewable Energy, and the Kansas Power Pool built a new 12.5-megawatt wind facility, the Greensburg Wind Farm, which generates enough electricity annually to power 4,000 homes. Financing for the wind farm was provided by the Rural Development agency at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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