Monday, April 20, 2009

Greensburg, Kansas - Model Sustainable Community

After being devasted by a tornado, the town of Greensburg, Kansas decided to rebuild itself with all of its public buildings being LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum rated. It's first public building designed to this center, i.e. the Greensburg Arts Center, is the first platinum rated green building in Kansas. Designed by the non-profit Studio 804 of the University of Kansas, it is built with special tempered glass that blocks UV rays, 4 inch concrete floors that help retain the heat in the winter, skylights to allow in natural daylight, a green roof planted with the succulent plant sedum to absorb UV rays and reduce the need for air-conditioning in the summer (while the soil medium helps insulate and reduce the need for heating in the winter), cellulose insulation made by recycled newspapers, and both 3 Kestrel wind turbines that produce 600 watts of electricity and photovoltaic solar panels on the roof that all are used to provide electricity to the building. A converter in the basement converts the DC electricity to AC electricity, and what electricity that is not used is either stored in 12 batteries or is sold as excess to the city. The building also has 3 geothermal heating and cooling wells that draw 55 degree temperature air from 200 feet deep that makes the heat pumps of the building more efficient in both the winter and summer. Finally, rainwater from the building is collected in a 1500 gallon cistern and is used to water the natural buffalo grass lawn. The City of Greensburg has been featured in a series shown on the television station Planet Green to demonstrate what has been accomplished by one community's commitment to a more sustainable future.

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