Designing Our Future: Each Choice Tells Our Story

futurePretty cool to have my latest Sustainability with a Capital S column featured in the special “Designing Our Future” issue of Library Journal!

Each Choice Tells Our Story  |  Rebekkah Smith Aldrich  |  October 4, 2016  |  Library Journal

“I’ve been working hard to ­ensure libraries understand that sustainability involves far more than “going green.” Embracing the Triple Bottom Line definition of sustainability helps libraries think holistically about the environmental, economic, and social aspects of their library and community. Nonetheless, libraries have a lot of work to do on the “going green” side of things.

Libraries are steeped in work that speaks to their economic viability and that of their communities. Our professional ethics are rooted in the creation, promotion, and preservation of socially equitable access for and treatment of those we serve. Both of these are part of the everyday work of simply being a library. Is there a constant need for vigilance on these fronts? Absolutely.

However, are libraries working as diligently on being environmentally conscientious and helping our communities do the same as they are on the economic and social equity sides of things? Not as much as we should.

We got off to a very strong start: we are the founding mothers and fathers of the “sharing economy.” As such, we help reduce the need to own everything and likely have an impact on the amount of stuff that ends up in landfills. But after that our commitment to environmentalism wanes.

From the Inside Out…” Read the full article here

Local Supports Local

My second column for Library Journal is now available! In this installment we take a look at the concept of “Local Supports Local”:

Local Supports Local  |  Rebekkah Smith Aldrich  |  July 11, 2016  |  Library Journal

One thing I know is true: local supports local.

Empower. Engage. Energize. These three words describe the relationship between a sustainable library and its users. It’s a two-way street: a library can empower patrons to do good things by engaging with them to understand their aspirations. A community can feel the authentic interest a library has in being a part of that community’s conversations, whether by being at the table or convening “the table” to find community-based solutions.

When a library shows support for the goals of those it serves by empowering and energizing patrons through library services, those communities turn around and give empowerment back to their library in the form of goodwill and financial investment. This is a sustainable pattern for the future of libraries.

Think global, library local…” Read the full article here

 

The Capacity to Endure

My first article for the new Library Journal column, Sustainability with a Capital S is now live! I start at the beginning. Makes sense right? Just taking a basic first step to define sustainability and some of the thinking around how the Triple Bottom Line affects libraries.

The Capacity to Endure  |  Rebekkah Smith Aldrich  |  May 2, 2016  |  Library Journal

Think big—I mean really big—about the future of your library and its capacity to endure. Does it have the support it needs? Can it bounce back after disruption? Do its services and programs bring new and energetic life to the community, school, or campus that it serves?

More important, can your residents and students themselves bounce back from disruption? Is your community filled with new and dynamic life that leads to community-based solutions to what ails it? How is your library contributing to this?

I want you to think about not just your library, not just about those you serve, but about the community we all live in, both locally and globally. That needs to be our focus for a sustainable future for libraries. Without sustainable communities to serve, libraries will become afterthoughts in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Self-actualization through our services will be a significant challenge when residents don’t feel safe or accepted, lack clean drinking water, or face limited economic opportunities.

Defining sustainability

I’ve been fine-tuning the concept of a sustainable library for several years. I’m not talking about greening a building or recycling, though those are attributes of a sustainable library. Sustainability transcends green and is best understood by this triple bottom-line model…” Read the full article here

Sustainability with a Capital S

LJ logoI’m very excited to be writing the brand new column, Sustainability with a Capital S for Library Journal! Every other month they will allow me to pontificate on what Sustainability, using the Triple Bottom Line definition, can mean for libraries – from an operational and outreach perspective.

Integrated Building Design Article in LJ

Super excited that my article about Integrated Building Design (IBD), “A Whole Systems Approach: Integrated Building Design,” is in the current issue of Library Journal!!

Rebecca T. Miller, Executive Editor @LJ, had asked me to write this article last year after the LJ Design Institute in South Carolina. I had insisted on asking the panels I moderated about IBD and got a mixed bag of responses from panelists but Rebecca was interested in hearing more.

Writing the article gave me an excellent excuse to talk to some amazing people:

-Victor Canseco, LEED AP and Principal at Sandpebble Builders, Inc. from Southampton, NY: Victor is passionate in an old school way about integrated building design. Speaking with a builder was fantastic as I usually don’t get face time with that side of a project. He really drove home how feasible IBD is and how smart it is for publicly funded projects. Plus I think he’s a pretty fabulous human being as well so there’s that…looking forward to presenting with Victor and his colleagues at the 2011 New York Library Association Conference in Saratoga Springs, NY!

-Amanda Aspenson, LEED AP and Designer with Meyer Scherer & Rockcastle, Ltd. out of Minneapolis, MN let me talk her ear off! We totally geeked out about IBD and I so appreciated her energy and enthusiasm around the topic. Amanda worked on the IPD Case Studies document cited in the article which I think is inspiring and really gives one the sense that IBD is doable for libraries of all shapes and sizes. Big thank you to Mr. Jeffrey Scherer, founding principal at MSR for connecting me with Amanda! *(P.S. Looking forward to presenting with Jeffrey at the PLA & ALA Conferences in 2012!! More on that soon!)

-Rick McCarthy, a principal architect with PSA-Dewberry, based in Elgin, IL, is not only a library architect but a library trustee which brings a really special angle to the conversation of stakeholder intersections. Rick’s long standing support of sustainably designed buildings is another stroke of luck for me in writing this article.

-David Moore, senior project architect at McMillan Pazdan Smith, based in Greenville, SC was the first person I interviewed and probably one of the most pragmatic people I’ve met. His real world wrangling of library projects with a host of complications and fairly fantastic outcomes was very useful to draw on as I got started writing the article.

I’m relieved the article is finally out there. I can’t wait to hear the feedback. I’m hoping a few brave souls out there give IBD a try for their projects. If there is anyone out there who wants to talk more about this just let me know, I’m very intrigued by the potential of IBD (if you haven’t already picked up on that…) and excited to see some libraries give it a go!

Public Libraries & Local Governments

This publication is a statement on the significant role of public libraries in achieving local sustainability.

Last week the Urban Libraries Council released “Partners for the Future: Public Libraries and Local Governments Creating Sustainable Communities“:

“This report demonstrates how public libraries help local governments achieve sustainability goals in each of the three triple bottom line components* and is intended to both celebrate successes to date and provide a roadmap for  partnerships that are built to last.”

This publication is a call to action for public libraries around the country to be talking to their local municipalities about planning for sustainability. It won’t happen without planning. Many municipalities are taking the lead, particularly in urban areas. They may or may not think to include the library in their plans. Make sure your library is “at the table” for these discussions and wholeheartedly buys in, there is nothing to lose and much to gain. This publication gives you the talking points you need to begin to convince municipal leaders that libraries are essential to a sustainability initiative.

Maybe your municipality has not started to plan a sustainable future for your community yet, the library could take the lead or start the discussion!

*

  • Economic Vitality
  • Environmental Quality
  • Social Equity

Employee Health & Productivity

A study out of Michigan State University earlier this year provides some solid data on the link between green buildings and increased employee health and productivity.

Effects of Green Buildings on Employee Health and Productivity” by Amanjeet Singh, MS, Matt Syal, PhD, Sue
C. Grady, PhD, MPH, and Sinem Korkmaz, PhD was published in the peer reviewed journal, the American Journal of Public Health in July 2010. They focused on the effects of indoor environmental quality (IEQ). IEQ is broader than IAQ (indoor air quality) in that it encompasses  all aspects of the indoor setting including air quality, ventilation, thermal comfort, visual comfort (lighting and views), ergonomics and noise.

“… we found that improved IEQ contributed to reductions in perceived absenteeism and work hours affected by asthma, respiratory allergies, depression, and stress and to selfreported improvements in productivity. These preliminary findings indicate that green buildings may positively affect public health.”

Milwaukee Public Library Rooftop Solar

Interesting tidbits from this article on the Milwaukee Public Library’s rooftop solar array:

  • The library’s solar electric system is projected to generate 40,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of power a year for the next 40 to 50 years.
  • …the new system will produce less than 10% of its electricity needs per year.
  • …solar electric prices dropped 15–20% between the time the library contracted for the system’s installation and the writing of this case study (March 2010).
  • The library’s solar system will pay for itself over about 15 years, which is a third of its projected lifespan. About 75% of the savings will be from electricity generation and 25% from demand reduction.

Part of me wants to say “timing is everything!”

“Are Commercial LED Replacements Ready for Prime Time?”

Article from ecogeek.org:

“Although we are big proponents for LED lighting, the US Department of Energy has recently issued a couple of reports warning that many so-called replacement lamps for fluorescent fixtures are not performing at adequate levels. In most cases, fluorescent tubes are still a better choice, providing more lumens per watt than most LEDs. Although LEDs may eventually replace many other lighting options, they aren’t a magic bullet just because they’re LEDs. You should be careful and find out more about them before making the switch.”

Controlling Humidity

Thought I’d share these helpful articles from BuildingGreen.com on controlling humidity by Alex Wilson.

Why do you want to control humidity in your building?

  • high humidity/moisture can result in mold growth (which can cause allergies and other health problems as well as damage the building)
  • it makes you feel uncomfortable

Mr. Wilson proposes the following solutions for

  1. eliminating moisture sources
    1. fix drainage problems
    2. install gutters
    3. fix leaks in the roof/flashing
    4. insulate cold water pipes to prevent condensation
  2. removing moisture from the air
    1. air conditioners
    2. dehumidifiers