AIA/COTE Top Ten Green Projects

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Greensburg Schools/Kiowa County Schools

This photo shows a laboratory classroom in the middle school, featuring daylight, views, and natural ventilation.
Photo credit: (c) Farshid Assassi


  • Location: Greensburg, Kansas
  • Building type(s): K-12 education
  • New construction
  • 132,000 ft2 (12,300 m2)
  • Project scope: a single building
  • Rural setting
  • Completed July 2010

Following the devastating tornado that destroyed its town and schools, Unified School District (USD) 422 chose a bold strategy to combine its schools into a single K–12 facility that would retain a distinct identity for each school function: elementary, middle and high school. The design utilizes a highly flexible, sustainable approach that constantly maintains a student-centered focus.

The design reinforces this rural community's sustainable comprehensive master plan by placing the school's front door along Main Street. The building is organized around a courtyard gathering space for all ages. The north wing houses the high school and gymnasiums. The south wing houses the lower-school curricula, which are zoned to identify their unique characteristics. The plan maximizes daylight and natural ventilation to positively impact student performance. The new school serves as a major community focal point, a catalyst for future buildings, and a tool to promote student health, productivity and enhanced learning. The school itself serves as an active teaching tool and has been integrated into the curriculum. The school is targeting a LEED Platinum rating.

Environmental Aspects

In direct alignment with the town's Sustainable Comprehensive Master Plan, the USD decided to rebuild to LEED Platinum. This decision led the way for the city, which later mandated that all public buildings attain a Platinum rating. This K–12 facility combines the resources of three rural community school districts into a single facility, thereby right-sizing at a regional scale.

The USD understood the importance of daylighting for increasing student academic performance and focus, so the design optimizes daylighting and natural ventilation in all classrooms. Separate zones for kindergarten and elementary, middle, and high school grades allow students the unique learning and social opportunities that each age group requires. The design also integrates the students in key ways in order to build a sense of community, encourage mentoring, and instill a desire for achievement.

The school has a variety of community-use spaces to encourage social involvement. Fitness and athletic spaces meet the larger community's social and recreational needs. Spaces that accommodate adult education and senior citizens' activities are included as well. The program is fully optimized beyond school hours because it connects this small rural community by serving as a centralized community meeting place.

Owner & Occupancy

  • Owned and occupied by Kiowa County USD 422, Local government
  • Typically occupied by 410 people, 40 hours per person per week; and 10 visitors per week


Training, Simulation, Commissioning, Performance measurement and verification, Operations and maintenance, Transportation benefits, Open space preservation, Wildlife habitat, Wetlands, Indigenous vegetation, Stormwater management, Water harvesting, Efficient fixtures and appliances, Efficient irrigation, Drought-tolerant landscaping, Wastewater treatment, Glazing, On-site renewable electricity, Durability, Salvaged materials, Recycled materials, Local materials, C&D waste management, Occupant recycling, Connection to outdoors, Daylighting, Natural ventilation, Noise control, Low-emitting materials

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Last updated: 4/14/2011

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.

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