Going Green? The Impacts of Sustainability Planning in Greensburg, Kansas, USA

Going Green? The Impacts of Sustainability Planning in Greensburg, Kansas, USA

L. Hewitt Sparks S. Swearingen White 

City of Bakersfield, Bakersfield, California, USA

Urban Planning Department, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, USA

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The small city of Greensburg, Kansas gained international attention through its efforts to rebuild sustainably following a devastating tornado in 2007. This study investigates the early results of those efforts, asking how both the built and social environments of Greensburg have changed as the result of sustainability-focused plan- ning. Analysis of documents, observations, and interviews reveals that Greensburg’s plans have had important influences on the city’s built and social environments. Specifically, the materials, designs, and placement of buildings are substantially different than prior to the tornado, and reflect the city’s sustainability emphasis. The greening efforts also appear to have enhanced citizen views of sustainability, with learning, costs, and community concerns as the main mitigating factors.


community planning, disaster recovery, small cities, sustainability


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