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Putting the "Green" in Greensburg: A Tornado-Ravaged Town Reinvents Itself

Can a small Kansas town leveled by a twister revive its fortunes by becoming an energy-efficient, eco-conscious community?
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THE STARS (AND PLANETS) ABOVE

The planets Venus [ top ] and Jupiter shine over rebuilt homes and empty lots in Greensburg, Kan., on a cold night in December 2008.....[ More ]

TREES VS. TWISTER

Greensburg's Peace Lutheran Church meets in a manufactured modular unit set onto a wooden frame foundation on the site of its former church, ringed by empty lots; it plans to rebuild eventually. Some of the city's trees survived the May 2007 twister, but are worse for the battering.....[ More ]

TOWARD NEW STANDARDS

NREL project manager Lynn Billman, intern Alexander Dane, and architect–engineer John K. Holton have been offering Greensburg guidance on rebuilding the town’s businesses and homes to be highly energy-efficient as well as consulting on the adoption of a green building code.....[ More ]

DUDE, WHERE'S MY CAR?

The Silo eco-home was much further along by the time GreenTown and Armour Homes dropped a car on it from a height of 60 feet, on April 9, 2009.  The stunt demonstrated that the home could withstand a 160,000-pound impact on its roof or side -- a useful quality in a region prone to tornadoes.....[ More ]

EFFICIENCY AT HOME

The Silo eco-home, shortly after groundbreaking in early December, 2008. Green features will include solar-powered electricity, a roof vegetable garden, and passive ventilation.....[ More ]

A STRONG SILO

Florida-based Armour Homes has designed and built the Silo. The home is being built using materials and techniques similar to those used for grain silos; its concrete walls and cylindrical shape will give it the strength to resist winds up to 200 miles (320 kilometers) per hour.....[ More ]

A NEW KIND OF SILO

The corner lot for Greensburg GreenTown's first eco-home, the Silo.  Daniel Wallach thinks locals are open to the unorthodox design: "The grain silo was one of the only things that survived the tornado," he says.....[ More ]

"SOLAR"-POWERED

The incubator opened on April 24, 2009 after about six months of construction.  It rents about 10 spaces to small businesses, and provides them with technical assistance to help rebuild Greensburg's economy.....[ More ]

HERE COME THE SUN CHIPS

Greensburg's "Sun Chips Business Incubator" in early December, 2008, shortly after construction began. Sponsored by the USDA and Frito-Lay, the building has been designed and constructed to the LEED Platinum standard.....[ More ]

RENOVATING THE ROBINETT

The S. D. Robinett Building, built in 1915, was the only structure in Greensburg’s business district to survive the May 2007 tornado. Owners Gary and Erica Goodman hope to operate an antiques store on the first floor and live on the second.....[ More ]

ARTS AND EFFICIENCY

The 5.4.7 Arts Center, located in the center of Greensburg, is Kansas's first LEED Platinum building. Designed and built by University of Kansas architecture students, it gets energy from three 600-watt wind turbines connected to a bank of batteries, along with photovoltaic panels on the roof.....[ More ]

A MAYOR'S SENSE OF RESPONSIBILITY

Bob Dixson, mayor of Greensburg, believes that although going green will improve the town's economy, "the main thing is that it's the right, prudent, responsible thing to do. It's about being good stewards of the resources that we've been blessed with on this Earth."....[ More ]

ECOTOURISM IN KANSAS?

Daniel Wallach, founder and director of Greensburg GreenTown, hopes to fund and build 12 homes, each featuring different architecture and green features. He envisions Greensburg as an ecotourist destination for people who want to book stays at the homes and "try on" green living.....[ More ]

THE WATER OF TOWN LIFE

The May, 4 2007, tornado turned Greensburg’s old water tower into a twisted pile of metal wreckage. The new water tower was dedicated on May 3, 2008. To some it symbolizes the city’s comeback.....[ More ]

A STILL-STANDING SILO

Greensburg’s grain silo was one of the few structures left after the May 2007 tornado obliterated the town.....[ More ]

A TOWN BLOWN AWAY

One of many residential lots for sale in Greensburg, flanked to the south and west by rebuilt homes. Around 900 people remain from a pre-tornado population of 1,500.....[ More ]

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