At 9:45 pm on May 4th, 2007 an EF5 tornado leveled the rural town of Greensburg, Kansas. Just days after the storm, the community came together and decided to rebuild sustainably, striving to become a model green town for the future. Ever since this landmark commitment was made, Greensburg GreenTown – a grassroots community-based organization – has worked side-by-side with city and county officials, business owners and local residents to incorporate sustainable principles into their rebuilding process.
As part of the rebuilding plan The Chain of Eco-Homes project was launched in the winter of 2009. It is a series of demonstration eco-homes designed to be “living laboratories” featuring a variety of building techniques, prices, sizes, energy efficiency features, and green living products and services. Each home will be unique, and serve both as an informational center and as eco-lodging where visitors can experience green living first-hand. The eco-homes will also be monitored to demonstrate how each type of construction technology performs under local conditions, and to determine actual energy savings.
Three home designs, winners in a design competition, will drive the project. The latest eco-home, the Meadowlark House, will follow a building standard that has been around for over two decades but remains relatively unknown in the United States. That standard, called Passive House, was developed in Germany by two professors starting in the late 1980s. It was brought to the U.S. in 2006 by the Passive House Institute U.S.
The standard is a design process, not a supplemental program to a building – meaning its components have to be taken into account from the beginning of a project. The design of a Passive House centers around six principles used together to create an extremely energy efficient home: passive solar design, super-insulation, high performance windows, airtightness, ventilation, and space heating. Through the use of Passive House, energy needs are reduced up to 90% compared to traditional, conventionally built homes. The team is also aiming for LEED-Platinum status. [ greensburg – green town ]