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Take a Tour of Greensburg!

To view our tour book of Greensburg and learn more about all the exciting projects, click here.

Eco-Lodging Opportunities

Call us for information on Tours and Eco-Lodging opportunities in our B&B Suite at 620-480-8565. Available after April 1, 2016

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Who We Are

Greensburg GreenTown is a charitable nonprofit organization working in Greensburg, Kansas to rebuild the town following the devastating tornado in May of 2007. The town has made a remarkable comeback, reinventing itself as a model for sustainable building and green living now recognized around the world. GreenTown works to make green building and living easily understood, appealing and accessible to all.

For contact info, click here.


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What do our guests think?

Since our Silo Eco-Home opened in May of 2010, we've had over 4,000 visitors from 48 states and 17 countries! We love hearing our guests' stories, which is why we have a guest book in our Bed & Breakfast for them to sign. Their creativity and energy are so inspiring, we couldn't help sharing them with you. Here are some of their comments:

We invite you to experience our Bed & Breakfast as well. Call us at (620) 723-2790 to set up a stay.  Our rates are $99 per night for one person or $109 per night for two people. Hope to see you in Greensburg soon!


Sustainable Recovery Conference a Success!

Joplin builder Frank Schaffer presents at a break-out session

The first annual Sustainable Disaster Recovery Conference co-sponsored by GreenTown and Saint Louis University Center for Sustainability exceeded our expectations and the goals we had set for ourselves (our Measures of Success). Over 200 people participated in the 2-day event held on the SLU campus on October 29-30. We had set a big agenda and scheduled many choices for break-out options so that folks had could focus on what they were most interested in.

The Greensburg story was recounted from several different angles. Former City Administrator Steve Hewitt (now serving as City Manager in Clinton, Oklahoma) participated in a plenary panel of municipal officials who were on the front-lines of sustainable recovery, post-disaster. He was joined by Jonathan Raiche, who is with the City of Joplin's Planning Department, and Dennis Knobloch, who served as Mayor of Valmeyer, Illinois in the 1990s when it was ravaged by a flood and the decision was made to move the town to higher ground.

Click to read more ...


Program Book for Next Week's Conference

We are getting very excited about bringing folks together for next week's Sustainable Disaster Recovery Conference in St. Louis. The planning team has finished up the program book which will be distributed to participants, and you can check it out here. There is still time to register - for either one or both days of the event. If you are interested in this topic, but unable to attend this year, rest assured that sessions will be filmed and made available online, thanks to the professionals at HEC-TV, one of the sponsors of our event.

This groundbreaking conference is being presented by the Saint University Center for Sustainability, Greensburg GreenTown, and GreenTown Joplin, and will be held on the SLU campus. The conference aims to help areas stricken by natural disasters rebuild strong, livable communities by identifying ways to effectively weave elements of sustainability into the disaster recovery process. Participants will learn about the important of collaboration among the parties who work together to help communities recover. This will also be a good opportunity for any city leaders who are planning for the future viability of their home towns. We will come at the topic from all angles: economic, psychological, meteorological, civic, educational, health & safety, and the like. Conference Chair David Webb was interviewed for television in St. Louis and gives a good overview of the goals of the event.

The line-up of speakers is noteworthy, as we are bringing together experts from the federal government (FEMA, National Renewable Energy Lab, and Department of Defense); leadership from communities that have employed sustainable practices in their rebuild, post-disaster (Greensburg, Joplin, and Valmeyer, Illinois); academia; the nonprofit community (including Architecture for Humanity, the American Institute of Architects); and industry (General Motors, Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, BTI, and others). There will also be folks from disaster communities talking about their personal experience and why they opted to "go green" after losing their homes. We invite you to check out the complete program roster of speakers for inspiration. Check out our conference FAQ section if you're interested in attending and have questions. We look forward to issuing a complete post-conference report in this space.

The program book was beautifully designed by GreenTown Project Manager Joah Bussert. He spent two years in Greensburg as an AmeriCorps staff person in our office, and continues to work for GreenTown from his home base in Denver.



GreenTown's Upcoming Events

These next few weeks are big ones for us here at Greensburg GreenTown! Coming up on October 29th and 30th is our Sustainable Disaster Recovery Conference that we are co-hosting with St. Louis University’s Center for Sustainability and GreenTown Joplin. The conference will be in St. Louis at SLU and cover a plethora of topics, including Incentivizing Sustainable Recovery, An Artist’s View of His Hometown, Teaching Through the Lens of Sustainability, and many more.  The full itinerary is on display if you click on this link. I am excited to be in attendance and learn more about all the forces that came into play to make sustainable recovery in both Greensburg and Joplin happen and how to promote sustainable disaster recovery in the future. The conference is open to you too, and with the great variety of panels and expertise of speakers, I wouldn’t want to miss it! Click on this link to find out about registration. Registration for one day is available for those of you who want to attend the conference, but can't make it for both days. Hope to see you in St. Louis!

Another upcoming event for GreenTown is that in three weeks, our Indiegogo campaign for the Meadowlark Eco-Home will come to a close. We are so appreciative for the public support we’ve received for this project! While Indiegogo is not the only avenue we are pursuing to try to finish this innovative home, it is currently the only way for the general public to specifically support this project through GreenTown. Any small amount you can donate will be appreciated and will go towards completing the home. To recap the special aspects of this home, it is the first home in America to be constructed using a wood-block system by HIB, it is one of the few buildings in America to use Passive Design, and it will be free and open to the public to experience these features when completed! You can help complete this project by donating or by sharing our campaign with friends. Greensburg can become a model for the nation in yet another way with your help!

Meadowlark's Passive Design features visually represented.











Deep Thanks for Sarah and Her Quiet Joy

There is a calmness to a life lived in gratitude, a quiet joy. ~Ralph H. Blum

Last month we bid adieu to Sarah Thyparambil, GreenTown AmeriCorps staff extraordinaire. Fortunately she's still in the neighborhood, having procured a position just a couple of hours from Greensburg at an architectural firm in Wichita.

Sarah's steady, quiet manner coupled with her enormous talent was the perfect addition to our organization - and to the community as a whole. She came to Kansas from Lincoln, Nebraska and spent a year gifting us with her time and dedication through the AmeriCorps State and National Program. She and Barbara Summers, whom we profiled at the end of the summer, began working for GreenTown last summer. Even though they didn't know each other when they started their AmeriCorps terms together, they quickly became a dynamic team and they have left quite a legacy. Sarah and Barbara are responsible for the beautiful, bountiful community garden project planted last April by the Kansas Heartland Girl Scouts at the Silo Eco-Home. They creatively concocted GreenTown's Recycle Christmas last year, and seamlessly worked side-by-side on many events and projects, including those commemorating the fifth anniversary of the tornado in May of this year.

Sarah writes beautifully and is the author of a good number of articles on this website. Plus, she is a wonderfully talented graphic designer and has made us look really good on paper and on our website. A case in point is the third edition of the GreenTown GreenTour Book, which she poured her energy into. She also has an uncanny ability to work gracefully and very skillfully under pressure.

We are grateful to the folks at Health Facilities Group in Wichita, who have recognized Sarah's talents and hired her as an Intern Architect; she started in her new position last week. HFG is the firm that designed the Kiowa County Memorial Hospital in Greensburg, which is the first LEED Platinum project of its kind in the nation. (This was their first LEED Project, and they have gone on to develop many more since then.) It's nice knowing that Sarah is just down the road a piece . . .

We are deeply grateful for Sarah's year of service and presence at GreenTown. Thank you, Sarah!


Meadowlark Fundraising Campaign Launched Today!

Today marks the launch of our Indiegogo campaign to raise $50,000 to complete the Meadowlark Eco Demonstration Home!  Meadowlark is the second in GreenTown’s Chain of Eco-Homes.  Its most noteworthy design features are its construction with HIB blocks and its keeping with Passive House standards.  HIB blocks have not yet been used on a building in America and Passive House is still a burgeoning concept on this side of the Atlantic, so Meadowlark is groundbreaking in many ways!  When construction began on Meadowlark, all the funds were secured, but an unforeseen turn of events with our primary funding source left GreenTown in need of having to raise additional monies in order to complete the house. The $50,000 will go towards:

  • Siding
  • Triple Pane Windows
  • Exterior Doors
  • Installation

All of these items will be tremendous assets to protect the house to protect it from the elements.

Right now, Meadowlark looks like this:

But we’re hoping to get it to look like this and be open to the public before too long:

Please help GreenTown realize this goal by donating (even $10 will help us out) and sharing our campaign at http://www.indiegogo.com/savemeadowlark. Thank you for your support!


The Case for Recycling Your Old Clothes


image credit: everyday cleaning tips

I just read a very interesting blog post where I learned more about what happens to the clothing we donate to Goodwill, Salvation Army, and similar organizations. The Afterlife of Used Clothing points out that about 20% of donated clothes is actually resold as is; much of the rest of it sent off to textile recyclers who use the material in a variety of ways:

"According to the trade organization Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles (SMART), less than half of the clothing processed by textile recyclers is of a high enough quality to continue as clothing. About 20 percent of postconsumer apparel is so busted up it is sold to fiber buyers, who break it down into component fibers for reuse in a variety of products from insulation to carpet padding and building materials. Another 30 percent is sold to the industrial wiping-rag industry for about eight cents per pound. Only a small sliver, 5 percent, is thrown away."

Here is a link to SMART should you be interested in finding a textile recycler in your area. When you pass along those old t-shirts and jeans, you just never know where they might end up. It's fun to think about old clothing being repurposed into a product that will help keep people's homes warm in the winter.




Greensburg: A New Life Chapter


I am now a resident of Greensburg! I began work at Greensburg GreenTown on Monday,
September 3rd. I am very excited to begin working with the community of Greensburg and
sharing my interests in sustainability. I grew up in Omaha, Nebraska and studied at the University
of Nebraska at Lincoln. I received my Masters of Architecture last May. I have lived in Nebraska
for most of my life, but I had the opportunity to study abroad in Europe for one semester while
attending UNL. That experience gave me new insights into a variety of cultures and cities. Once I
graduated I began looking for a job that suited my interests. I am thrilled to say that my experience in
Greensburg has begun!                                                                                                                                                                          
The change of pace from a big city to a small town is significant, but there is certainly a presence
about Greensburg that separates it from other towns. The wind turbines and solar panels
throughout the buildings in Greensburg convey a sense of social progress. Biking in town is
another aspect of small town living that I am excited to utilize. In addition, the distance from my
house to the nearest grocery store is less than 10 minutes. Since the town is pratically new, the
aesthetic is very clean and unweathered. Whenever I enter a new building in town I feel as
though I am still in the city.                                                                                                                                                                      
Even before I moved here, I was aware of Greensburg's goal for sustainable rebuilding. I remember
watching the Discovery Channel series about the inital rebuilding of Greensburg back in 2008. I
watched the construction of the 5.4.7 Arts Center by the University of Kansas graduate Design-Build
course. I remember being captivated by this town and I stored the story of Greensburg in
the back of my mind during my study at UNL. I never would have predicted that I would find
myself working in Greensburg after all. While the series gave me perspective on the inital
rebuilding efforts, I was impresssed by the amount of progress and built work when I toured
Greensburg at the beginning of the summer. Five years after the disaster, Greensburg remains
an inspiration to me as a beacon for sustainable growth. Now that I am involved with GreenTown
I want to help promote sustainability in a way that gives inspiration to other towns faced with
similar circumstances.                                                                                                                                                                                                  
There are quirks of Greensburg that I have discovered that make the experience of living here
unique for me. The Greensburg street names are interesting. From east to west the
streets are named after states and presidents. I was happy to see that one of the streets was
named Nebraska when I first moved down. From north to south the streets have names related to
different types of trees. Although, when you ask for directions not many locals remember the
street names, rather they give you directions based on the landmarks in town.                                                                                          
I am blessed to be given an opportunity to be directly involved with GreenTown's projects both
locally and nationally. I am looking forward to many new experiences within the year!


Here I am on top of the GreenTown Silo Eco-Home.


It's Time to Register!


Greensburg GreenTown, GreenTown Joplin, and the St. Louis University Center for Sustainability invite you to attend our inaugural conference addressing the all-important issue of sustainably recovering from disaster. On Monday & Tuesday, October 29-30, on the St. Louis University campus, we will be gathering together many of the  leaders in this arena and working to optimize the resources available to the people working in our field. We look to the conference to be an inspiring place to learn, network, and share experiences. You can check out our confirmed speakers here. (Please note that we are still in the process of finalizing a few of the sessions; these are not yet listed.)

Students may attend the event for free; all that we ask is that you pre-register, here. For paying customers, please note that our Early Bird Registration deadline is coming up September 27. If your company would like to exhibit at the event or to partner with us as a sponsor, we invite your participation. (Clicking on the corresponding pages will enable you to read about the many benefits associated with a being a part of this event.)

A few highlights of the program include:

  • Residents from Greensburg and Joplin will tell their inspiring comeback stories and their decision to build super energy efficient homes, post-disaster.
  • Mike Smith, a leader and innovator in the field of meteorology, will give a plenary talk entitled Miracle at Greensburg.
  • Representatives from the Federal government (FEMA, NREL, and the Department of Defense) will give an insider's view of the recovery process.
  • City leaders will discuss the decisions that Greensburg and Joplin have made related to incorporating a sustainable vision into their community's comebacks.
  • There will be sessions addressing the psychological and social aspects of recovery from disaster.
  • The documentary Joplin, Missouri: A Tornado Story will be presented, with special commentary from the film's director and producer.
  • There will be a work session where folks from disaster communities can meet with experts in the field of sustainability to brainstorm ideas and strategies for their rebuilding process.
  • And much, much more.

The nascent field that is sustainable disaster recovery is an exciting one, in that it takes the misfortune of a disaster and transforms it into an opportunity for the affected areas. There is profound power when human beings are able to take tragedy and redeem it into something beautiful that will have a lasting positive impact on a community for generations to come. Sustainable disaster recovery channels grief and loss into a proactive response and serves as tribute to those who lost their lives. We see unparalled opportunity for our culture to embrace more sustainable ways of living and using resources, ultimately benefiting the well-being of future generations.

This conference is poised to become an annual event that is a place where those working to make rebuilding communities stronger and more successful come together to share ideas, experiences and inspiration.

Please join us at this inaugural event designed to give greater form to the “industry” that is sustainable disaster recovery and make it an even more powerful force in years to come.



Sustainability and the Job Market

A background in sustainability is becoming a valuable asset in the job market. The U.S. Department of Labor cites several reasons why companies have adopted a more sustainable focus. First and foremost, being sustainable saves money. Companies can reduce their expenditures on oil and other energy costs by operating in a sustainable manner. Secondly, consumers are increasingly interested in supporting sustainable firms. Online tools like Good Guide are readily to available help customers monitor what different companies value, so they can determine where to spend their money. Finally, firms that observe sustainable practices have an easier time complying with state and federal regulations. These incentives to be sustainable have resulted in adding a sustainability component to positions at companies that didn’t formerly have them, including chief executives in sustainability, transportation managers, industrial production managers, and more. In 2009, 75 percent of respondents to a survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics engaged in sustainable practices, which is double the percentage from the 2006 survey. Another 61 percent of respondents report having a person or team dedicated to sustainability. As the Department of Labor notes, “Sustainability is becoming part of how companies do business in the United States, rather than being viewed as a cost.”

With the new availability of these positions, several sustainability training programs have cropped up as well. St. Louis University, which is co-sponsoring our Sustainable Disaster Recovery Conference October 29-30, offers a masters degree in sustainability. My alma mater, Bard College, started offering an MBA in Sustainability this year.  Other U.S. universities including Yale, Stanford, and the University of California-Berkeley offer MBAs in Sustainability as well. If going back to school isn’t in the cards for you, supplementary sustainability training programs have become more common recently. The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) offers in-person training as well as webinars and other e-learning options pertaining to sustainability. TRESTA, The Renewable Skills Training Academy, recently opened in Scotland appealing to “School leavers/young people, those seeking work, people wishing to retrain or up skill, anyone currently employed in, or wanting to work in the renewable energy sector.”  Finally, if you stop by Greensburg GreenTown’s Silo Home, you can get a crash course in all the sustainable features we use here, as well as ideas about how to incorporate them into your life! Learning about sustainability is at your fingertips because you’re at a computer. Or it’s a short walk away if you live in Greensburg.

Image from the Bureau of Labor Statistics