Greensburg Schools/Kiowa County Schools

Process & Results


The community of Greensburg, Kansas was nearly destroyed by an F5 tornado on the evening of May 4, 2007. All school facilities were lost in the devastation. The school district made a strategic decision to combine all its facilities into a single location to consolidate functions for greater efficiency. This decision was driven by the desire to create the best learning environments, to keep the identity of the three age-appropriate facilities (elementary, middle, and high) within a single building, and to do so with a focus on creating the best long-term facility based on life-cycle cost. During the design process, the decision was made to pursue LEED Platinum with a constant focus on creating the best daylight-filled educational environment to enhance student performance. The site selection and the ultimate site development were also critical during the pre-design effort, as they placed the facility in the heart of town along Main Street, consistent with the City's comprehensive master plan. The design team worked closely with the district to select the site and to integrate the facility into the community fabric to establish a walkable community.


The design process focused on daylight optimization in occupied spaces, because of the known impact on academic achievement. Two single-loaded academic bars, each with an east-west orientation, optimize solar orientation and prevailing breezes. The lower and middle schools are in the southern bar, which bends to allow three distinct zones for preschool, elementary, and middle school. The high school is located on the second floor to the north and is placed above key support functions, including the cafeteria and distance-learning facilities. The placement of the high school was partially symbolic, denoting the advancement to higher grades.

The gymnasium is filled with daylight captured by north-facing clerestories. The mechanical system is a ground-source, closed-loop heat pump. Energy is net-zero carbon and includes an on-site wind generator supplemented by the city's wind farm. The school utilizes low-flow plumbing fixtures and waterless urinals. The building envelope uses structural insulated panels (SIPs), detailed to minimize thermal bridging, with a rainscreen system of limestone shingle, metal panels, and reclaimed wood. Materials were chosen for their environmental appropriateness, durability, recycled content, and site distance. The selection of furniture, fixtures, and equipment followed similar criteria. Each decision supports the ultimate goal of creating the best learning environment.


A construction-manager-as-agent (CMA) process was selected for the construction delivery method. This choice was made due to the involvement of FEMA and USDA in the funding process. Due to the remoteness of Greensburg, the scale of the project, and its high LEED aspirations, the team determined it needed to preselect a CMA to monitor cost and constructability issues during design, ensure familiarity with the LEED process during construction, and manage this large-scale project in a remote, rural location with limited resources. The design team worked closely with the CMA and the subcontractors throughout the project to ensure they fully understood the unique elements of the project (rainscreen, SIPs, etc.) and the LEED process. The team also worked closely with the community to establish recycling protocols. Quality control was carefully managed by the CMA, and weekly progress meetings, including carefully managed look-ahead calendars, were used to anticipate future issues and resolve them prior to work being installed. The project was delivered on schedule and within budget.


The design team educated district staff throughout the design, construction, and commissioning process. The mechanical systems chosen are new to Greensburg, and the team wanted to ensure a smooth start-up. The district's key maintenance/engineer staff member was intimately involved in the project since the earliest design decisions, and the knowledge he developed allowed the start-up to occur with few if any issues. The district has chosen a green cleaning strategy as well, and the design team worked with the school and the maintenance provider to ensure a full understanding of the program.


In addition to the fundamental commissioning, the owner and project team chose to do enhanced commissioning. The process went smoothly, identifying minor modifications and adjustments to be made in equipment and operational programs.


To achieve the best possible building performance, the owner and the project team also chose to do measurement and verification. The process began in the fall of 2010 and will finish in the fall of 2011, consistent with LEED guidelines and requirements.


  • AIA/COTE Top Ten Green Projects in 2011

Our thanks to the ENERGY STAR program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and to the U.S. Department of Energy, and to BuildingGreen, Inc. for hosting the submission and judging forms.

For more information about the AIA/COTE Top Ten Green Projects, contact AIA/COTE. For help on how to use this Web site, contact .

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