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GREENSBURG, KS-Though green building techniques started their popularity on the coasts, this Midwest town has become the first to pledge that all government buildings will be built according to LEED Platinum, the highest green building standard issued by the US Green Building Council. The city council passed a resolution that all city buildings more than 4,000 sf will be certified Platinum and be required to reduce energy use by 42% over current building code requirements. Other commercial developers in the town are following suit.

The move was made partly because the entire town had to be rebuilt anyway. A two-mile-wide tornado wiped out just about every structure on May 4. Federal and state agencies are providing about 85% of the rebuilding funds. “We have to make up the gap,” says Dan Wallach, executive director of Greensburg GreenTown, a public-private partnership dedicated to help rebuild the city. “It makes sense to rebuild with sustainable principals. The value of green buildings are greater, and they have a long-term durability.”

He says many developers have pledged to follow the city’s lead, including the local John Deere tractor dealership, and a General Motors dealership. Dillons executives have proposed green features for a new store here, to serve as a model for sustainable design for the parent company, Kroger, Wallach says. A new Main Street Small Business Incubator will also be built to green standards, along with the multifamily project Prairie Point, going for LEED Gold certification, and another mixed-use, multifamily development by the Commercial Group. “We’ve got about a dozen buildings right now going green,” Wallach says.

It’s not much, a city of about 1,400 people even before the disaster, promising to follow sustainable standards. But the pledge is the first by any city in the US. “It’s a sign that the green commitment is spreading all over the country,” says a USGBC spokeswoman. She says that there are about 9,000 projects registered as trying to achieve one of the LEED standards, with about 1,200 certified. In total, that’s about 2.3 billion sf of space seeking green status. “There’s been a tremendous pickup in the amount of green applications, it really speaks to the entire movement. The rating system has grown and is now moving into residential and retail, and Platinum projects have grown, too, she says. “There’s 65 Platinum projects across the country, and we’re seeing a lot more projects in the introductory stages who have said they plan to go Platinum.”

The LEED rating system awards buildings points for satisfying specified green building criteria. The six major environmental categories of review include sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, and innovation and design.

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