Greensburg, Kansas--A Better, Greener Place to Live

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The city of Greensburg, Kansas, is rebuilding as a model green community with the help of the U.S. Department of Energy and its National Renewable Energy Laboratory. A tornado destroyed or damaged 95% of the town's homes and businesses on May 4, 2007. Greensburg turned disaster into opportunity and created a vision to rebuild as a sustainable community. The town has gathered a diverse group of experts, including DOE and NREL, to make their vision of rebuilding green a reality. This brochure highlights the inspiring story of Greensburg's recovery, with many examples of disaster recovery accomplishments.  The resource describes the communities process of creating a vision, developing their economic and environmental goals, preparing a plan to implement, finance, and develop their goals, and create early success through education and outreach programs.  The brochure also highlights several of the technologies related to agriculture, buildings, economic development, increasing energy efficiency,  attracting new industry, management of people and policy, as well as how renewable energy technology was incorporated into their recovery, including solar, wind, hydro and geothermal power.

Community Information
Name Greensburg, Kansas
Type City
Population 2,421[2]
Community Energy Goals All new homes will use 30%-40% less energy than before the tornado

New city buildings will achieve LEED Platinum certification Other commercial and public buildings will be designed to LEED Platinum or Gold rating levels 100% renewable electricity 100% of the time Reduce GHG emissions by 36% relative to pre-tornado emissions

Baseline Estimated 2005 energy consumption: 15.6 million kWh; 92 mcf; 1.6 million gallons gasoline; 415,000 gallons diesel (taken from Billman, 2009 report)
Results to Date 4 LEED Platinum commercial buildings

Of the first 190 homes built after the tornado, about half were analyzed for expected energy savings (heat and electricity), and averaged 40% less energy use than code Wind farm that produces 12.5 MW of energy, or enough to power every home, business, and municipal building in the town, as well as surrounding areas 2008 annualized total electricity use: 8 million kWh (with 800 out of the original 1,400 residents)


Based on lessons learned from technical assistance provided by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Greensburg, Kansas, this resource provides a marketing resource and example for how communities recovering from disaster, or undergoing energy transformation can attract new industries to their community, and develop new economic opportunities within their community.

Environmental Aspects

52% of the new homes permitted between May, 2007 and March, 2009 were voluntarily rated for energy efficiency. Nine townhome rental units are projected to use 41% less energy than a standard home.  33 homes that were renovated and measured will use on average 25% less energy than a standard home.  The city has also passed a resolution that all city-owned buildings will be LEED Platinum.  The city has entered an agreement to build a 12.5MW wind farm and to provide 100% renewable electricity to the city.


  1.  "Greensburg, Kansas--A Better, Greener Place to Live"
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