An EF-5 tornado ripped through Greensburg, Kansas on May 4, 2007. This massive, tornado practically levelled the small town, and half of the town’s population of 1,500 residents escaped and never returned back. But from the debris post-tornado opportunity emerged. Greensburg is now one of the greenest towns in the United States, the second city in the country to go 100% renewable after Burlington, Vermont.
It serves as an actual role model for renewable energy and sustainable development to the thousands of small towns across the US. More significant about this achievement of Greensburg is, it could also teach its frack-happy, earthquake-riddled home state a lesson or two about better energy choices. As it’s now a well-known and accepted fact that, a 4.9 magnitude earthquake which struck on Nov. 12, 2014, (the largest ever recorded in Kansas) has been officially linked to wastewater injection into deep underground wells.
After the tornado struck, the city lifted itself up in a very systematic and Sustainable Comprehensive Master Plan (as the city officials call it). Every new building was built to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) platinum standards and streetlight converted to LEDs, the first ever town in the nation to do both. Today it has the most LEED buildings per capita in the US. All these developments have come in just nine years. The city has single stream curbside recycling. City conserves water with low flow fixtures and rainwater harvesting is done for irrigation needs whereas the gray water used in toilets. This town, America’s heartland, is also home to the world’s largest hand-dug well.
It is the wind that destroyed the town nine years ago but today that is what’s powering it. The 12.5-megawatt community Greensburg Wind Farm is enough to power every home, business, and municipal building in the town and surrounding area, as per the report by the U.S. Department of Energy. Actually, the wind turbines located on the south of town, produce more energy than the city consumes. The upflow on the elevation from Oklahoma into south-central Kansas has some of the best consistent, year-round wind in the United States. Due to this natural effect Kansas offers the third highest potential for wind energy in the United States.
In fact, Greensburg has bagged many awards and recognition in the field since the year 2008 such as, “United Nations Global Green Community Award”. The town also has had recognition of media for its incredible achievements.