Last May, the city of Greensburg, Kansas was devastated by a tornado that killed ten people and injured over fifty of its 1,400 residents- as you can see from the image, the level of destruction was almost incomprehensible. Back on December 17, though, the city passed a resolution to rebuild its public buildings greater than 4,000 square feet to a LEED Platinum level. In a USGBC press release from yesterday that announced the resolution, Rick Fedrizzi noted that “[t]he city of Greensburg has taken the extraordinary step of committing to rebuild their community to a new vision, not settling for simply recreating what had gone before.” The resolution also requires that qualifying projects reduce their energy consumption by 42 percent over code through achieving all ten of the LEED optimize energy performance credits.
In October, Greensburg selected Kansas City-based BNIM Architects to create a new master plan for the city, grounded in sustainable principles implemented through zoning refinements and streetscape design, among other features. BNIM has worked on a similar effort before- it designed a 940-square-foot green home in the Lower Ninth Ward through its work with Brad Pitt’s New Orleans: Make it Right Foundation. You can check out the text of the resolution here; note that the language does not explicitly require formal certification from USGBC, but rather that projects “conform to the Platinum rating of the USGBC LEED [system].”
Nevertheless, only six buildings in the entire state of Kansas have been certified to date, but ten public and private buildings have already committed to earning certification from USGBC. Also of particular interest, each construction contract for qualifying projects “shall contain provisions determined by the City Administrator to be sufficient to require the designer and constructor to comply with the applicable LEED Platinum Standard.”
We’d be extremely curious to take a look at these contracts; as the designer or contractor, the tone of the resolution sounds like the terms could be decidedly one-sided against me. Again, this is a great example of green building law in action and the need for counsel that understands the twists that sustainability adds to traditional legal principles and relationships. Greensburg will definitely be a municipality to keep an eye on throughout the course of 2008.