Photo courtesy of Joah Bussert, Greensburg GreenTown
Cities across the U.S. are working hard to conserve the earth’s resources and help protect the environment, or “going green,” but let’s not give the big cities all the credit; small towns all over the country are doing the same. You don’t need millions of people and skyscrapers to take care of the environment, and we found five towns that prove it.
- Greensburg, Kansas
We didn’t pick this town simply because the word “green” is in the name. Greensburg is going above and beyond to be eco-friendly. In May 2007, a tornado hit the town so badly that they had to completely rebuild. The Greensburg community turned this tragedy around and decided to rebuild the town sustainably. The idea was to become a “model green town for the future.” What’s different about their approach is that they try to make it easier for the residents to adhere to green practices. Tourists come from all over to learn about Greensburg’s green renaissance. A non-profit organization, GreenTown Greensburg, tends to eco-tourism inquiries and offers self-guided, customized, hour-long walking tours of the town.
Greensburg is in the process of building a chain of Eco-Homes as well, and buildings sport new eco-friendly windows. The municipal building is the first municipal LEED Platinum building in the U.S and the town has a Wind Farm that generates enough power for 4,000 homes. We couldn’t possibly name all of the ways this town is green, but we can tell you that they have earned the name GREENsburg.
- Serenbe, Georgia
In the Chattahoochee Hill Country sits a town that was founded only a few years ago on principles of community, green space, and sustainability. All of the homes in this community will be Earthcraft Certified and some of the buildings are LEED certified already. It doesn’t end there; building techniques include low-impact, storm-water management, and community geothermal heating. Residents and restaurants rely on the town’s organic farm for fresh vegetables. Most importantly, every house plays a part in creating an eco-friendly community by recycling their trash and sending compostable material to the farm to make organic compost that renews the soil. It’s a lot to take in, but it’s worth it!
- Gloucester, Massachusetts
In 2010 Gloucester was named a “clean energy leader.” There are five benchmarks a community needs to meet in order to be awarded grants for local renewable power and energy efficiency projects. Gloucester passed these tests with flying colors. The benchmarks included purchasing only fuel-efficient vehicles for municipal use and requiring new residential construction and new commercial/industrial real estate construction to reduce lifecycle energy costs. It couldn’t have been an easy transformation, but we commend Gloucester for the progress they’ve made.
- Corvallis, Oregon
This town is participating in what they call the Corvallis Energy Challenge. Residents are working together to make Corvallis an eco-friendly small town by using the lowest amount of energy in their homes. There are two LEED-certified buildings and more on the way. Corvallis is also home to one of the country’s greenest universities, Oregon State University, and eco-friendly businesses can be found all over town. To top it all off, the town is full of gorgeous parks and organic farms.
- Lexington, Kentucky
This not-so-small town is frequently making “Green-ist City” lists, which are usually based on specific data regarding electricity, transportation, green-living, recycling and green perspective. Lexington, home of horse-racing and bourbon, scores high in these categories because of their organic food markets and the University of Kentucky’s green initiatives.
This is just a glance at how Main Street USA is helping the environment. One of the key factors is a strong community, which is what small towns pride themselves on. If you like what you see here, be sure to vote for these towns for Best of the Road!