|The Big Well museum staircase|
Since the six years after the tornado hit, Greensburg has dedicated itself to becoming a green city, and is now one of the country's top owners per capita of LEED platinum certified buildings. The town owns a half dozen LEED-certified platinum buildings, which include the town's City Hall and the Kiowa County Memorial Hospital. The streetlights are LED (Light Emitting Diodes), and the town is run on renewable energy.
Initially, some residents were hesitant about re-creating the town in a sustainable way, skeptical of greenwashing and the actual benefits they would see from it. BNIM, a Kansas design firm that specializes in environmentally-friendly design, came in and presented a recovery plan that illustrated how it could be beneficial to the town and its residents. Gradually, residents began to embrace the idea of rebuilding with a green focus, and decided to accept the challenge. After eight months since the tornado, the city council of Greensburg decided that all large buildings exceeding 4,000 square feet would become LEED platinum certified and must use renewable energy sources.
Greensburg was covered by an incredible amount of media coverage since the tornado event. Two television series and several books were developed in the telling of how the town becomes green. In 2007, Discovery Channel created a mini series, Greensburg, and starred environmental activist/actor Leonardo DiCaprio which documented the town's reconstruction. The series ran for three seasons. Similarly, a four-episode series, Build It Bigger: Rebuilding Greensburg, premiered in November 2008 on the Science Channel. A book called The Greening of Oz, by Robert Fraga, was about the towns reconstruction as well.
For other towns that have faced similar damage in recent years, such as Tuscaloosa, AL and Joplin, MO, the dedication and perseverance of Greensburg and its green initiatives serve as inspiration for rebuilding. These cities have followed in Greensburg's footsteps and solicited advice for re-building their towns, recognizing the opportunity to create positive change after such devastation for the towns.
To learn more about the LEED green building rating system, visit www.greenedu.com or register to attend our FREE Intro to LEED webinar.