Greensburg Rebuilds with LEED Platinum

Greensburg Aerial

Last July, when we brought news that Leonardo DiCaprio and Discovery were going to help rebuild the tornado-torn city of Greensburg, we didn't know the city was so focused on greening its infrastructure.  Now comes news that the small Kansas town will require all city-owned buildings bigger than 4,000 sf to achieve a LEED Platinum rating from the USGBC. 

You'll note that Platinum is as high as it gets under the LEED program.  Greensburg is the first city anywhere to require such lofty standards in city buildings.  Additionally, buildings must reduce energy use 42% over current building code requirements. 

With a population of about 1500, there won't be many buildings that hit the mark, but it's a noble step in the right direction. 

Update: LEED Platinum for 547 Arts Center and Buffalo House.


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  • http://www.concoursee.com Jeff

    At the current cost it takes to get LEED Certified, and being involved in a LEED Platinum for homes cert myself at the moment, I’m truly convinced that a structure is going to be ‘less green’ with a certification than without. If someone followed the LEED checklist themselves and got all of the testing independently (blower test, HERS, etc.), they would have a LEED Platinum equivalent structure…just not the USGBC stamp saying that it was. However, the up side would be the fact that the project would have an extra $10-25K (based on a 4,000sqft building) to put into more green features (more PV panels, greenroof, etc.) Our own project has become less green than it was originally designed to be simply because of the certification costs and the LEED point scale.

    I love the intent and purpose of LEED. A standardized system of what “green” is had to come about. But let’s all be honest here. The majority of LEED projects being certified today are done so more for publicity reasons than environmental. And that is really all you’re getting with a LEED certified project…credibility and bragging rights when in reality you’ve built a structure less green than you could have if you hadn’t spent the money on certification. Now I’m sure people who are not developers or builders are going to say that’s not the case, but no matter how much you love the environment a budget is a budget and a builder/developer isn’t going to spend tens of thousands of dollars just to get a warm fuzzy feeling inside. At the moment, LEED=Press, so I think the cost is usually justified by this fact. But if the goal for a town is to truly have an environmentally responsible building code, they should not put the emphasis on certification, but building the greenest building they can. Adopt the Architecture2030 Challenge instead. It’s free and much more effective at addressing climate change than LEED (in my opinion). Only catch is that, unlike LEED, it puts the burden of innovation and design on the developer/architect, but is that really such a burden? If you sit down and really think about a project and decide what you want to achieve with it, the burden really isn’t a burden at all. LEED isn’t the end all “greenest” certification its touted to be. I’d say a quarter of the points don’t address real imperative environmental issues at all.

    And why are we involved you may ask? Press. Begrudgingly involved at best. But as more and more projects are certified the less and less the exclusive allure LEED will embody. At that point I think LEED is either going to have to adapt or go the way of the dinosaur.

  • http://greengolingo.blogspot.com/ Greengo

    Glad to see you covering this. What an idea, huh!? I think this town will provide some fantastic actual data (costs, etc.) on what it takes to commit to green at a serious level.

  • Arch Student

    “it puts the burden of innovation and design on the developer/architect”

    That is our job so it’s not a burden. That is the way it should be and is what we are being taught in school to do, and we love it. Developers get in the way buy taking up the majority of projects and constructing giant monstrosities of inefficient outdated models of what a neighborhood should be and what a house should be.

  • Dan

    Where is this $10-25K coming from? If you go platinum your USGBC fees are all rebated. If you save money on a less reliable test, or partial design you’ve saved what? In a perfect world we wouldn’t need LEED. Of course in a perfect world we wouldn’t need any certification. Believe me, I’m not the big LEED apologist. It has its warts. But I don’t see anything better or even close. Its kind of like what Churchill said about democracy.

  • Joao Ricardo Louven

    Very nice the Greensburg Project. I saw through the NatGeo today. Congratulations!

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