Going green in Greensburg

“Rome wasn’t built in a day,” goes the old saying. And it’s taking awhile for Greensburg, Kans., to be rebuilt.

It’s been nearly three years since the day in May 2007 when a vicious tornado blew through Southwest Kansas, causing massive destruction and resulting in the state and federal governments to declare Kiowa County a disaster area.

Many generous and civic-minded groups and organizations continue to be involved there, including Liberty Building Systems and its affiliate, Snodgrass and Sons Construction Co. of Wichita, which added to the “greening” of Greensburg with three LEED-certified metal buildings.

The storm, categorized as an EF5 tornado with winds in excess of 200 miles per hour, is described by the Enhanced Fujita Scale as causing “explosive damage” where “automobile-sized missiles fly through the air in excess of 300 feet” and “incredible phenomena” occur.

The aftermath was nothing short of this — leveling 95 percent of the rural town of Greensburg and leaving what little remained in utter disarray.

Days after the tornado, the community came together and decided to rebuild the town in a sustainable fashion and be a model for green building and green living. A city council resolution mandated that all city buildings would be built following the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System.

Making green history

When it’s complete, Greensburg will be the first city in the entire nation to achieve this feat. The green wave has swept over business owners and residents alike in Greensburg, with local businesses and a series of 12 “eco-homes” leading by example. This model for environmentally conscious living is something the citizens of Greensburg have taken quite seriously.

Memphis-based Liberty Building Systems was given the chance to bid on several city building projects through builder relationships in the area. Snodgrass and Sons Construction Co., Inc., based in Wichita, was one of the many contractors charged with helping rebuild Greensburg and chose Liberty to provide metal building solutions for three structures striving to reach LEED certification.

“Coming from such devastation and destruction, we were very impressed with the Greensburg community and the commitment they made to rebuilding their town with LEED-certified structures,” according to David Snodgrass, president of Snodgrass and Sons Construction. “There are so many intricate requirements and steps to be followed that, as a contractor, it makes me respect them all the more.”

Snodgrass continues, “Liberty fully invested in the project, made an extra effort to keep the project on time and did a great job in helping us achieve LEED certification.”

A trio of green solutions

Liberty supplied three building solutions for Snodgrass Construction and the town of Greensburg.

The transportation building is a 6,089-square-foot structure split into administrative offices and open warehouse space to store and maintain county vehicles. The noxious weed building, used for chemical and equipment storage, has a square footage of 4,800. The recycling center is part of the green initiative of Greensburg, and this 4,464-square-foot structure is open to the public for paper and plastic recycling. All three buildings in Greensburg will serve as Liberty’s first LEED-certified projects.

“Many building owners don’t have a full understanding of what LEED means. There is a wealth of additional steps and documentation involved, with a considerable effort in terms of design and construction,” Snodgrass said. “But you will enjoy significant and long-range benefits from such a environmentally responsible decision.”

All buildings are separate but were erected in close proximity to each other. Each building features clearspan framing, a 24-gauge Galvalume LibertyLoc standing seam roof system, 26-gauge polar white interior liner panels and 24-gauge LibertyRib wall panels in an ash gray Kynar finish with zinc gray trim.

Metal buildings are made of recyclable, long-life material, they are easy to design and assemble and are extremely efficient structures, having less impact on the environment, says David English, LEED AP, corporate accounts and quote manager.

“Metal is a natural fit for building projects with the goal of LEED certification,” English said. “One significant benefit of using a pre-engineered metal building system is that the primary material includes recycled content. In fact, the steel used in the framing, walls, roof and liner panels of the Greensburg project consisted of 25 percent recycled content and contributed two credits in the buildings’ LEED certification.”

Liberty Building Systems, a division of BlueScope Buildings North America, Inc., engineers and supplies metal building solutions for agricultural, commercial, industrial and self-storage applications. Sales and engineering offices are located in Memphis, Tenn., with multiple manufacturing facilities throughout the United States.

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