American Public Works Association
2013 Public Works Project of the Year
Award category:
Small Cities/Rural Communities

Community center uses 40% less energy
Project: Kiowa County/Greensburg Commons
Managing agency: Kiowa County, Kan.
Primary consultant: Professional Engineering Consultants, P.A.
Primary contractor: Compton Construction Corp.
Cost: $6.1 million

In May 2007, an EF-5 tornado leveled tiny Greensburg, destroying 95% of the southwest Kansas city and killing 11 of its 1,400 residents.

During the first year of recovery, the city decided to follow sustainable design principles where possible when rebuilding. Five years later, one result is the LEED Platinum Kiowa County Commons building.

Located just south of the new city hall, the 20,000-square-foot structure is a cultural, educational, and communications center. In addition to a museum, public library, and the Kansas State Extension Service, a Community Media Center provides residents with Internet access, live broadcasts of meetings and events, and digital media training.

The building earned the U.S. Green Building Council’s highest Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design certification with:

  • 33 rooftop photovoltaic panels that produce 4.6 kilowatts of power
  • light monitors in one section of the roof, a green roof over another
  • a walking path
  • rainwater retention
  • water conservation fixtures
  • insulating concrete form (ICF) block construction with an R-22 insulation value.

A geothermal ground source heat pump system comprised of 48 vertical boreholes, each 320 feet deep, provides HVAC. A primary variable volume pump system transfers water/glycol between the well field and heat pump units spread through the building. A dedicated outdoor air system preconditions the air to a neutral temperature before delivering it to the return deck of the heat pumps.

Funding for the $6.1 million center, which opened in November 2011, came from insurance, FEMA, USDA Rural Development, corporate donations, and in-kind gifts.

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