Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Greensburg GreenTown

Before May 4th, 2007, Greensburg, Kansas was home to 1400 people, a handful of schools, numerous farms, shops and amenities. After a tornado ravaged the town, destroying 90% of its structures, Greensburg (located 2 hours west of Wichita) decided to rebuild--only this time, they decided to do it green.

At Tuesday morning's session, Daniel Wallach, founding Director of Greensburg GreenTown, hosted a panel made up of Greensburg's former Mayor, John Janssen; the school's Superintendant, Darin Headrick; and the City Administrator, Steve Hewitt. Speaking to a large, captive audience in Ferrara Theatre, the panel discussed their initiatives, challenges, hopes and decisions that have all played a crucial part in the LEED-certified reformation of a ruined town.

Most of the townspeople fled after the natural disaster, but many have returned, becoming completely involved in the rebuilding of the place they once called home. Not quite at the end of the school year last May, children were displaced from their classrooms, but the town built temporary facilities after considering the effect bussing them to other cities could have on the community as a whole.

The panelists also discussed the great cost at which LEED buildings are built. "It's not $.5 for Coke or a quarter for a candy bar--Middle America is expensive." Greensburg hopes to have 4 or 5 certified green structures, including its city hall, museum and a business incubator. The in-depth website, www.greensburggreentown.org, offers thorough information on the plans, its staff, its history, and ways to donate.

"You didn't hear the word 'LEED' a lot in Middle America," joked Steve Hewitt, "but you do now."

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