Green Re-Building Following Natural Disasters

When tornadoes hit wind speeds of 318 miles per hour, very few natural or man-made structures can withstand such intense power. After the Midwest tornadoes tore through Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Minnesota and Wisconsin, they left a horrible path of destruction with broken glass, rusty nails and electrical power lines strewn everywhere. But another serious danger hovers in the air of these devastated areas: asbestos.

Asbestos was used for decades in roofing, plumbing and insulation due to its fire-retardant properties; when it is broken up, the fibres can become airborne. These fibres can cause mesothelioma. During Midwest clean-up efforts, government agencies will assist with the removal of environmental hazards: asbestos, hospital waste and toxic chemicals.

“Green Re-Construction”

Although many of these areas have been devastated, the communities have united showing their strength, energy and wisdom in rebuilding. Some have decided to rebuild their towns on the more sustainable “Green model.” A prime example is the city of Greensburg, Kansas, which was destroyed by an EF5 tornado on May 4, 2007.

After a mile-and-a-half wide tornado destroyed 95% of Greensburg, Kansas, the city developed the motto of “Greensburg: Better, Stronger, Greener!” Future municipal buildings over 4,000 square feet were required to meet the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Platinum designation. This eco-friendly thinking attracted new residents and businesses.

While some wonder if Midwestern farmers are likely to accept Green Environmentalism, Greensburg Mayor Bob Dixon said, “… green is just being good stewards of the resources we’ve been blessed with.” Green movements increase energy-efficiency, reduce pollution and generate less waste. Greensburg slashed utility bills by nearly 40% using recycled waste oil and wind power. It only makes sense for Midwestern towns to rebuild using green sustainable energy after natural disasters.

“Energy-Efficient Communities Attract Residents and Businesses”

Japan and Germany are examples of how more efficient communities can be successful. After World War II, both nations had severely damaged industrial infrastructures. These countries were rebuilt with the newest industrial technology. Over time, this led to lower input costs that allowed them to sell their products for lower prices than other nations that used older technology.

“Green Re-Building Improves Energy Costs”

With rising energy costs, homeowners will want to improve the efficiency of their homes. Whether repairing, retrofitting or completely rebuilding houses in the tornado-ravaged Midwest, green energy provides the opportunity for using non-asbestos construction materials, high-performance windows and geothermal heating\cooling systems. Green homes save significantly on utility bills.

Industries, which are energy-intensive, will be attracted to “Green Cities” that share their vision. Government and businesses will cooperate to create jobs so that Midwest towns can rebuild. Solar, wind and geothermal are more sustainable sources of energy.

In Joplin, Missouri, an estimated 75% of the city was destroyed. Rebuilding the town from the ground up with Green Energy would be more cost-effective than retrofitting older infrastructure in other cities. Joplin could resurrect itself as a 21st Century model of Eco-Friendly technology. People would be attracted to the town so they could work together to create a more sustainable future.

The Midwest tornadoes have created horrible devastation in many cities, but it has also created the opportunity for re-building using superior green technology. With Greensburg, Kansas as a model, these cities could attract new citizens and businesses dedicated to sustainability. Earth-friendly construction materials, more energy-efficient heating\cooling systems and recycling of heat will lead to a more healthy life for all.

 

Barbara O’Brien