Greensburg, Kansas is the second U.S. city to go 100 percent renewable after Burlington, Vermont. In May 2007, an EF-5 tornado leveled the small town. Half of the town’s population of 1500 people left town and never returned.
But out of the rubble came an actual model for renewable energy and sustainable development. The city rebuilt every building to LEED-platinum standards and converted every street light to LEDs, the first in the nation to do both.
The city has curbside recycling and saves water with low flow fixtures. It collects rainwater for irrigation and grey water in toilets.
The community Greensburg Wind Farm of 12.5-megawatt produces enough electricity to power every home, business and municipal building in the town and surrounding area. In fact, the wind turbines, located south of town, produce more energy than the city uses.
Kansas has some of the best consistent, year-round wind in the U.S. The town uses solar and geothermal energy sources to compliment the wind power. Mayor Bob Dixson said, “You have to do the best you can with the resources you have. We learned that the only true green and sustainable things in life are how we treat each other.”
Greensburg has been the subject of books and TV shows, including a Planet Green series narrated by actor and environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio. Before the Flood https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90CkXVF-Q8M
Even President Obama praised the city in his first address to a joint session of Congress. “Greensburg is being rebuilt by its residents as a global example of how clean energy can power an entire community—how it can bring jobs and businesses to a place where piles of bricks and rubble once lay. Out of the terrible tragedy, came an incredible opportunity.”
Look around your community. What needs attention? Where can you support your community efforts to build wind, solar and geothermal energy sources?