The U.S. Green Building Council has certified as LEED Platinum the arts center for Greensburg, Kan., that was conceived and constructed by 22 University of Kansas architecture students in the Studio 804 graduate design/build program. Greensburg is rebuilding from an EF-5 tornado that struck on May 4, 2007, and destroyed 95 percent of the city.

It's the first LEED Platinum building designed and constructed by students. The Studio 804 building, known as the 5.4.7 Arts Center, also is the first LEED Platinum certified structure in the state of Kansas. Studio 804's building earned the LEED Platinum certification through its use of wind turbines, photovoltaic panels, geothermal climate control, recycled building materials and a host of other ecologically minded features.

“There are many sustainable aspects of this project that are worth pointing out,” said Dan Rockhill, the J. L. Constant Distinguished Professor of Architecture and founder of Studio 804. “The white roof is used to reflect heat as opposed to absorbing heat. In addition, we put on top of that green roof blocks, which are sedum, a drought-tolerant plant that will shade the roof and provide some air movement. The buffalo grass on the property is a relatively indigenous material that has very little water requirement so it meets the climate we have here. We use high fly ash content in the concrete, which is a byproduct of coal burning. The plumbing included very low-flow controls, so we're not wasting water. We harvest rainwater through gutters and downspouts into a cistern, which we use to water the outside yard through a pump system. I could go on and on.”

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