Rebuilding Greensburg, Kansas, as a Model Green Community: A Case Study

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Contents

Overview

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 comprehensive case study describes technical assistance provided by NREL to help Greensburg, Kansas, as they pertain to the construction of highly energy efficient residential, public, and commercial buildings; distributed energy systems (including wind, solar, ground source heat pumps, geothermal, district heating and cooling, and fuel cells); biomass; transportation; and leadership, education, and outreach.  In addition to these recommendations, the report also describes in detail how a variety of stakeholders have contributed to implementing projects providing training, educating the public, and catalyzing economic development in the city.

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.
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)

Highlights

This case study is a widely cited example of a community that has undertaken an effort to rebuild sustainably following a disaster.  However, the analysis and recommendations detailed in this report are described in such a way that they could be replicable to a variety of communities seeking to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.  One feature of this resource a breakdown of recommendations on energy efficient residential construction according to four groups: city, homeowners, builders, and community leaders and businesses. The report also offers broadly applicable recommendations for deploying community scale renewable electricity and providing effective leadership and education.  The report weaves detailed discussion of the different players involved in the Greensburg redevelopment effort into the text.  These stakeholders include developers who have already begun implementing some of the recommendations described in this report.    The case study highlights the use of the BeOPT computer model to develop specification packages to support Greensburg's goal of rebuilding homes with a 30% or higher improvide energy efficiency. The report also mentions the use of EnergyPlus to optimize the design of commercal buildings intended to achieve a LEED Platinum rating.

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.

Related Tools

The case study highlights the use of the BeOPT computer model to develop specification packages to support Greensburg's goal of rebuilding homes with a 30% or higher improved energy efficiency. The report also mentions the use of EnergyPlus to optimize the design of commercial buildings intended to achieve a LEED Platinum rating.


References

  1.  "Rebuilding Greensburg, Kansas, as a Model Green Community: A Case Study"
  2. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named population