The Greensburg Project: Green from the Ground Up

One of the most inspiring things I've seen on television lately is Planet Green, Discovery's 24-hour green lifestyle network. Planet Green programming includes Emeril Green, a green cooking show with celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse and Living with Ed, a real life account of actor Ed Begley Jr's  green activism as well as several lifestyle, home and design shows.

What really got me interested was the show Greensburg, the 13 episode account of a small Kansas town's struggle to rebuild after a 2007 tornado all but swept the town off the map.

With over 1,500 people displaced from their homes and most of the community's infrastructure destroyed, Greensburg's mayor and its citizens are faced with the choice to relocate or rebuild. Executive produced by Leonardo DiCaprio, one of Hollywood's greenest celebs, Greensburg chronicles the community's journey of imagination and innovation as they come together to slowly but surely rebuild a sustainable new town.

The episode I caught most recently focused on the town's efforts to gain a US Green Building Council LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum certification for their Greensburg Arts Center. Based on six categories including sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, and innovation and design, the rating system qualifies buildings as Silver, Gold, and at the top, Platinum. 

To achieve the LEED Platinum certification the 5.4.7. Arts Center, named in honor of the date of the tornado, is powered by three wind turbines, eight solar panels, and three 200-foot-deep geothermal wells. The tempered glass building was built with passive solar design in mind and takes advantage of heat from the sun in winter. Additionally, the town's new city hall, hospital and school are being built to achieve the LEED Platinum standard, too.

There are a lot of reasons to watch the show and follow the Greensburg story, but what makes the series so compelling is witnessing an entire community commit to the decision to rebuild in a sustainable eco-friendly way. If you get a chance, tune in to Planet Green's Greensburg and watch the story of hope and change as it unfolds in the greenest of ways – from the ground up.

2 comments
Posted by Christie on April 21,2009 at 4:12 PM

I just did some quick research and it looks like building codes for homes in the mid-west ensure that homes should withstand winds up to 80mph. Now, whether or not buidings can be green and tornado-resistant, I don't know. Unfortunately, there's really no structure above ground that's going to survive an EF5 tornado (about 205mph) like the one that devestated Greensburg.

Posted by Cooter on April 21,2009 at 3:55 PM

Sounds great - I would like to live in a community with such regard for the environment, but I do have some questions about the durability of these new buildings - are they tough enough to withstand a tornado? Perhaps the smartest / dumbest re-build in history - these green structures won't do much good if they too are blown away too

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