After Disaster, Residents Rebuild Green

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which tore through New Orleans on Aug. 28, 2005, architects and city planners had an opportunity to rebuild a major U.S. city in a thoughtful, sustainable way.

But more than four years later, New Orleans is still struggling with the nation's highest rates of murder and child homelessness – problems that make the much-publicized new eco-homes by Brad Pitt's Katrina relief organization, Make It Right, seem like superficial achievements.

Greensburg, however, a town of 1,400 in rural Kansas, may give you hope:

On May 4, 2007, a category-five tornado killed 11 residents and leveled 95 percent of the Greensburg. But days later, a town once known for the world's largest hand-dug well, decided to set itself apart in a different way: Greensburg residents vowed to rebuild the town as a model, green community and become the first U.S. city to have all municipal buildings meet LEED platinum standards.

Today, the Greensburg community center is LEED-certified and the city hall is expected to receive the same recognition. Last October, workers broke ground on the Greensburg Wind Farm, a 10-turbine tract that will harness the very force that demolished the town. A flurry of construction projects, including a series of model eco-homes and a new K-12 school, are underway.

"The tornado was a crisis that bonded people, which I think is a natural element of shared adversity, and the community was able to tap into that in a big way," Daniel Wallach, founder of the grassroots organization Greensburg GreenTown, told Mother Earth.

Add Your Comments

Please keep your comments relevant to this blog entry.Email addresses are never displayed, but they are required to confirm your comments. When you enter your name and email address, you'll be sent a link to confirm your comment, and a password. To leave another comment, just use that password.

To create a live link, simply type the URL(including http://) or email address and we will make it a live link for you. You can put up to 3 URLs in your comments. Line breaks and paragraphs are automatically converted - no need to use <p> or <br> tags.

AOL RealEstate on Facebook