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Blowin’ in the Wind: Why We're Aiding a Tornado-Torn Town’s Green Makeover
6/29/2009
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To offset the warming effects of our shipments, Vital Choice is funding the Greensburg, Kansas Wind Farm
by Craig Weatherby and Randy Hartnell


One year ago, we began offsetting the climate-warming carbon emissions associated with shipping our goods to Vital Choice customers.

Cattle raised for milk and meat are a major source of the potent greenhouse gas methane: See “Cows' Climate-Warming Gases Cut by Grassy Diet” to learn how raising cows on omega-3-rich grass cuts their emission of global-warming burps.

The project we supported from June 2008 through June 2009 trapped methane-rich emissions (burps) from dairy cows at Pennsylvania’s Brubaker Farm, and burned them to generate electric power.

That project has proven to be a success and has achieved economic sustainability, so the folks at Vermont’s NativeEnergy
who match eco-conscious companies with carbon-offsetting green energy projectspresented us with another exciting option.

We’re pleased to announce that, starting now, the carbon emissions generated by all shipments to Vital Choice customers will be offset by our support for the Greensburg Wind Farm being built in the tornado-torn Kansas town.

For the next 12 months, the warming effects of our shipping-related carbon emissions will be offset by helping Greensburg become a wind-powered community.

Here’s the story behind our new offset project… to learn about our environmental-protection and sustainability projects and policies, visit our Vital Green page.

(To learn about a new study that positions wind power as a feasible source of all electric power, see “Wind Farms Deemed Able to Exceed World Power Needs” in this issue of Vital Choices.)

The green resurrection of Greensburg, Kansas
On May 4, 2007, a terrifically destructive tornado struck Greensburg, Kansas, and nearly wiped the small town off the map.

Eleven people died, 95 percent of the town was destroyed, and the survivors were left without homes, businesses, schools, and basic services. It seemed as though Greensburg was gone for good.

But in a courageous move, the resilient people of Greensburg decided to rebuild their community as a model “green” community.

What about birds?
People are concerned about the impact of wind turbines on birds and bats, since significant numbers have been killed at certain locations.

Of course, pollution from coal mining and emissions harms birds, too.

And global warming could impact birds and bats on a far greater scale.

We found a good discussion of the issues at Mother Earth news.

To our way of thinking, the urgency of developing alternative energy sources is as important as protecting birds. The ideal is to do both!

They believed that by rebuilding on a base of alternative energy and conservation they could make the town more sustainable economically… while setting an example for the rest of us.

Like many small Midwestern towns, the population of Greensburg had shrunk in recent decades, with young people leading the exodus. But the rebuilding project provides powerful new reasons for young people to stay and build lives and families.

(The town’s trials and tribulations are being chronicled on “Greensburg: A Community Rebuilding,” a compelling documentary TV series on the Discovery Channel that reveals the hard work and tough choices involved in this attempted resurrection/transformation.)

Green businesses are already relocating or starting up there, and 12 new “eco homes” are in development.

Greensburg is has become the first U.S. municipality to light all streets with LED lights and the first to have a LEED certified town hall. Plus, there is a new Business Incubator Building, which hopes to achieve LEED Platinum status.

Greensburg Wind Farm offsets the carbon footprint of our shipments
The transformation of this Kansas town rests heavily on the Greensburg Wind Farm being built on farmland just southwest of the City.

Its 10 new wind turbines will generate enough energy to power 4,000 homes… more than enough electricity for every home, business, and town facility in Greensburg. Excess electricity will be sold back to the local utility, as explained on the NativeEnergy Web site.

The Wind Farm relies heavily on upfront financing from NativeEnergy… a respected non-profit that’s marketing all of the renewable energy credits and carbon offsets associated with the project.

The energy generated by the Greensburg Wind Farm will displace fossil-based energy and reduce hundreds of thousands of tons of carbon pollution that otherwise would enter our atmosphere… and several farm families will receive direct economic benefits from hosting the turbines.

The town will receive the rights to the green benefits from about one-third of the wind farm, making it a wind-powered community.

NativeEnergy will purchase the remaining renewable energy credits (RECs), converting them to carbon offsets that can be purchased by Vital Choice and other customers.

(To learn more about RECs and carbon offsets, see the NativeEnergy FAQ page.)

We’re proud and honored to play a part in the renewal of Greensburg, and hope that it will inspire other communities to get greener!

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