Town Leveled by Tornado Puts Green into Greensburg

A year ago yesterday, May 4, a maximum strength tornado with winds raging at 300 mph demolished the town of Greensburg, Kansas, killing 11. Organizations like Environmental Defense soon sought, somewhat dubiously, to make the name Greensburg a posterboard example, with Hurricane Katrina, for the increasingly frequent and violent storms expected to result from global warming. Maybe more credibly, the residents and friends of Greensburg now are seeking to make the townâ''s name synonymous with green, environmentally conscious design.

Residents of the town, 95 percent destroyed last year, are trying to make each new private and public building as energy-efficient, conserving, and environment-friendly as possible by drawing on renewable energy, conserving energy, and recycling wastes. Solar panels and geothermal pumps are among the technologies being deployed, and the intention is for new buildings to conform to the U.S. Green Building Council's platinum rating.

Meanwhile, 14 Kansas State architecture students have offered their support by designing a group of green â''cubesâ''â''a system for capturing and recycling water, for exampleâ''and delivering them to the town May 4.

Speaking at the townâ''s high school graduation ceremony yesterday, President Bush hailed the town for envisioning â''a future where new jobs flourish, where every public building meets the highest environmental standards, and where the beauty of rural America meets the great possibilities of new technology.â''

No doubt, planning a green future is paying off for Greensburg, and probably not just in reduced utility and home heating bills. Its efforts have been publicized on the leading U.S. television networks and in Britainâ''s Guardian. In June, Discoveryâ''s new green channel will feature Greensburg in a series produced by Leonardio DiCaprio.

Advertisement

Tech Talk

IEEE Spectrum’s general technology blog, featuring news, analysis, and opinions about engineering, consumer electronics, and technology and society, from the editorial staff and freelance contributors.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up for the Tech Alert newsletter and receive ground-breaking technology and science news from IEEE Spectrum every Thursday.

Advertisement