Greensburg, a tiny town on the vast, flat prairie of western Kansas, is at the center of a grand experiment. In May, a tornado obliterated nearly every house, tree and business, killing 10 people and displacing almost 1,400 residents. The community had been in steep decline before the storm, but city leaders quickly saw opportunity in the disaster. Perhaps they could revive Greensburg and sustain it for generations to come by making it the greenest town in America.
LEED gold certified Townhomes are beginning to rise from the ragged tree trunks, weeds and ruins off Main Street. The new homes will be almost twice as efficient as they used to be.
Danny Wallach, head of Greensburg Greentown, a nonprofit group leading the push for environmental sustainability in Greensburg, began rallying the effort to make the city more energy efficient just days after the tornado hit. "I mean, it literally struck me, green — Greensburg — and at the time, I wasn't aware of just how perfect the timing in the national green movement was," Wallach said.
Wallach says residents here embraced environmental sustainability as good old-fashioned thrift and independence.
The City Council resolved that all new city buildings should meet the very highest environmental standard — LEED platinum. An energy company has announced plans to build a biodiesel plant in Greensburg. Google is considering building a wind-powered data center here. Several other companies are watching closely. Meanwhile, 100 new homes are going up, all of them more efficient than those they replaced.
Greensburg just may be writing a modern survival guide for rural America.
Source: Frank Morris, Grist -- Full Story