Sunday, May 3, 2009

Greensburg, Kansas Arts Center - Platinum Green Building

The first LEED (leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum rated "green building" constructed in the state of Kansas is the Greensburg, Kansas Arts Center. Designed by the non-profit 804 Studio of the University of Kansas and constructed as part of the rebuilding of the town of Greensburg after it was devastated by a tornado, the building has 3 Kestrel wind turbines that produce 600 watts of electricity. In the basement is a Xantrec converter that transforms the electricity from DC to AC electricity that is either used to provide electricity for the building, is stored in a bank of 12 batteries for future use, or is sold to the city. The building also has 8 photovoltaic solar panels on the roof that also produce electricity. Finally, the building also has three 200-feet deep geothermal heating and cooling wells that draw cool 55 degree air from the ground in the summer and use the same 55 degree air for heating in the winter. The building exterior incoporates passive solar design in the form of specially designed tempered glass that is 10 times stronger than a car windshield that blocks UV rays while the building floor consists of 4 inches of concrete to absorb and retain heat in the winter. Skylights in the roof provide natural lighting while sensors automatically turn off the lights in the center if no one is in a room. The roof itself is a "green" roof covered with sedum, a succulent plant that helps to absorb UV rays and thus keep the building cool in the summer. Similarly, the soil medium helps to keep the building warm in the winter and filters the rainwater which is collected from the building in 1500 gallon cistern, with the rainwater then used to water the native buffalo grass lawn. To further promote sustainability, the building itself is insulated with a cellulose insulation made from recycled newspapers.