Rebuilt Tiny Kansas Town Now Officially Cool

Budget Travel has named its 10 Coolest Small Towns in America 2011 – towns that are “short on people,” with populations under 10,000, “but long on personality.” Because these towns are so small, most are not widely known, but EarthTechling readers will recognize one name on the list.

Greensburg, Kan., comes in 10th on the Budget Travel list, with the magazine touting the town’s many eco-friendly characteristics, including wind turbines that produce 100 percent its power, as well as LED streetlamps. How did a town of 777 in the middle of the country become so green? As we reported earlier this year, Greensburg ironically owes its sustainable character to a twister that blew through in May 2007 and destroyed most of its infrastructure, homes and buildings. City officials decided to rebuild the ecofriendliest town ever. They’ve done a good job. All but one of the buildings in town is LEED-Platinum certified. That one building is LEED Silver certified.

Rebuilding Greensburg

image via Joah Bussert/Greensberg GreenTown

Throughout the town, visitors will also see other green building signs, such as solar panels, geothermal heating and cooling systems and windmills to bring water out of the ground. Greensburg residents say the “green” change of heart is no mere fad; it’s a way to get back in touch with many of the ways the pioneers before them made a living in harsh prairie conditions.

One resident was quoted in the Budget Travel story as saying, “These are the same tennents used in pioneer days – south-facing windows in chicken coops to increase sunlight, reusing everything like Mennonites do.” The Budget Travel piece also mentions local green busnesses that visitors might want to check out, including Green Bean Coffee Co. and Silo-Eco Home B&B.

Kristy Hessman is a writer and native Oregonian who currently resides in California. Before starting her own company, she worked as a reporter covering business and politics for daily newspapers and The Associated Press.