Joplin Mayor Mike Seibert, Joplin homeowner Hugh Shields, Greensburg Mayor Bob Dixson
On Monday, May 12, Greensburg, Kansas Mayor Bob Dixson traveled to Joplin to meet with Mayor Mike Seibert to talk "green". The purpose of this visit was to invite Joplin media to accompany the mayors as they toured two of the city's most sustainable projects. Mayor Dixson was given an overview of Joplin's recovery progress, 3 years post-tornado, and shared what Greensburg has learned in the 7 years since an EF-5 destroyed nearly 95% of the town, and the decision was made to build back as a model green community.
The first stop was the home of Hugh and Ramona Shields. The couple lost their home in the tornado three years ago and decided to build back using a SIPs (Structural Insulated Panels) wall system. The southern wall of their home features a bank of large windows, and the angle of the roof overhang ensures that they take full advantage of winter sun; this same angle blocks the summer sun. The past two winters they have not used any fossil fuel! They have instead relied on a very small load of wood to use in their stove, and heat is retained in the thermal mass provided by their internal concrete safe room (which doubles as their closet) and concrete floors. They estimate that their energy bills average out to about $1 a day - the figure promised by their energy efficiency consultant. Their home was completely paid for by their insurance coverage.
Next the mayors visited Advanced Orthotics and Prosthetics, a Joplin business that was destroyed in the tornado. Owners Frank and Valarie Ikerd had the dream of building back as environmentally conscious as possible. They chose the TF Forming System ICF (Insulating Concrete Forms) for their wall, which has been rated to withstand 200 m.p.h. winds and offers superior energy efficiency as well. Frank has just started seeing patients this month and the Ikerds are eager to see how well they are doing in energy savings when they get their first bill. Additionally, a memorial to the tornado is in the works, in the form of a floor in the reception area fashioned from trees collected from friends who experienced loss during the storm. A myriad of other features, including smart technology and dual-flush toilets, round out the sustainable package found in their building. They hope to inspire other businesses to follow their lead.
Mayors Seibert and Dixson shared post-tornado experiences with each other and found a lot of common ground. They discussed the importance of community, of taking time when making rebuilding decisions, and the challenges and opportunities associated with leading their respective cities through the next phases of growth.
Green Town Joplin worked closely with Amy Jordan Wooden, a Kansas City-based PR consultant who was hired to coordinate the event on behalf of Communities on Climate. They have a goal to raise awareness about climate change and encourage local communities to do more to meet its associated challenges. Highlighting some of Joplin's success stories - undertaken independently post-tornado by local residents - is very newsworthy and the tour was well-received by local media. Thanks to the following outlets for covering Monday's story: