“Let Green Creep”

Check out two great articles that came out in May, one written by Louise Schaper, the other a Q&A with her:

Louise is the former (now retired) director of the Fayetteville Public Library (AK). She spearheaded one of the first LEED libraries in the country and in recognition of her achievements Fayetteville was named LJ Library of the year in 2005.

In the Let Green Creep article Louise speaks to the issue of greening operations, not just a facility. It is an important lesson to be “green all over,” to not let greening end once your building gets its certificate of occupancy but to really live green in a green building.

Greening Presentation for Onondaga County Public Library 5.7.10

Library Journal 2010 Design Institute @Atlanta

Just returned from the Library Journal’s 2010 Design Institute in Atlanta, GA where I moderated a panel: Sustainable Libraries with or without LEED. On the panel with me:

We tackled whether or not LEED is “worth it” (yes); will it cost more (upfront, yes; long term – probably not); “must-have” green features (best answer: building owners willing to make the commitment to green the project); and “green” features to skip (showers in libraries to get the LEED point for bike racks and preferred parking spots for hybrid vehicles).

During the “green must-haves” portion of the discussion David Moore took me by surprise when he focused on water conservation. I was expecting everyone to focus on renewable energy (geothermal, solar) or energy efficient  options as that is what has been most important here in New York, however, given that the overwhelming majority of the audience was from the South East (Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina) they were acutely attuned to the recent drought. Stories were told of people trying to capture the condensation off the air conditioning tubes for a little extra water and using buckets to capture the water coming out of the shower as it warmed up to a reasonable temperature. David expressed that he would be hard pressed not to incorporate water conservation (rain catchment, gray water recycling for toilets, landscaping etc.) features into future projects.

I’ll share more thoughts from this event this week but just wanted to share a bit about the experience as it is so fresh in my mind this morning!

40 Tips for the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day

Tomorrow is the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day, to mark the occasion I am doing a Greening Your Library workshop for my member libraries and have brainstormed the list below:

40 Easy Ways to Go Green @your library for the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day

1.       Establish a “Green Team” at the library to brainstorm ways the library could be greener

2.       Develop a recycling policy for your staff (paper, plastic, cardboard)

3.       Ask the board to pass a green policy that encourages and validates the exploration and investment in energy saving and resource saving options

4.       Create a routine maintenance plan for major systems (roof, HVAC, etc.)

5.       Create a building plan to predict timelines for long-term goals –  replacement of HVAC, roof, expansion plans – this will give you more time to find green options

6.       Recycle bins for paper next to printers (for staff and the public)

7.       Purchase recycled paper for printers and copiers

8.       File as much as you can electronically rather than in paper files (be sure to have an offsite back-up solution and schedule!)

9.       Add a footer to your email signature that urges people to think twice before printing out an email message: “Please consider the environment before printing this email”

10.   Recycle bin for plastic and glass in the staff break room and meeting rooms

11.   Encourage staff to eliminate the use of plastic water bottles at work

12.   Offer an enewsletter option

13.   Turn off lights in offices and meeting spaces not in use

14.   Only purchase ENERGY STAR computers/appliances

15.   Do not water the grass

16.   Use native plants in your landscaping so you don’t have to water them extra.

17.   Recycle book sale donations that don’t sell

18.   Recycle printer cartridges

19.   Appropriately dispose of e-waste (computers, monitors)

20.   Use Century Gothic font (it uses 30% less ink when printing than Arial)

21.   Turn off all equipment (copies, printers, computer towers and monitors) at the end of the work day

22.   Use “smart” power strips to cut off power completely when equipment is off

23.   Use the energy saving features through your operating system to put computers into standby/hibernation

24.   Turn down the temperature on the hot water heater

25.   Wrap the hot water tank with insulation to reduce heat loss from the tank

26.   Green the cleaning – purchase “Green Seal” cleaning products

27.   Use biodegradable soap in the bathrooms

28.   Only purchase formaldehyde free furniture

29.   Use low-VOC paints in the library

30.   The next time you replace your vacuum, get one with a HEPA filter

31.   Plan story hour crafts that can use recycled paper, cardboard, “found items,” etc.

32.   Invite a local walking or cycling group in to do programs at the library

33.   Partner with local environmental groups in your community to do programs at the library

34.   Offer a program on energy efficiency incentives from the state and federal for homeowners

35.   Highlight books from your collection that help families go green (green cleaning, eating locally, energy efficient home ideas)

36.   Encourage families to “turn off” (the TV and computer) and hang out together at the library

37.   Have the library property assessed for geothermal and solar placement.

38.   Schedule an Energy Audit to get professional recommendations to reduce energy usage in your building ($100) Usually available through your state energy authority

39.   Get your hands on a Kill-a-Watt to discover ways to cut back your electricity bill (we got one to share with our member libraries)

40.  Get your hands on a thermal leak detector to discover air infiltration in your building (we got one to share with our member libraries)

5 Ways to Make Computing Greener in your library

  1. Make it a library policy that all computers and monitors – public and staff – are shut down at the end of the work day. Use a Smart Strip Surge Protector to completely cut off power to peripherals when a computer is turned off.
  2. Make use of the power management settings (standby and hibernate) through your operating system; go a step further and check out EZ Wizard Power Management Tool recommended by the U.S. EPA 
  3. Only purchase ENERGY STAR rated computers and monitors.
  4. Redesign your public access computer network using a thin client model (example: Userful)
  5. Dispose and recycle responsibly. Research options by calling your town/city’s recycling center.

Bonus Round: Keep your eye on cloud computing opportunities – there are an increasing number of options – cost effective options – that could reduce the number of servers needed in your building and your reliance on purchasing software. Examples: Gmail for Organizations (keep your address, drop your physical email server) & Google Docs

Ann Arbor District Library (MI)

Josie B. Parker of the Ann Arbor District Library in Michigan spoke at the PLA Conference last week about their commitment to sustainable building. Josie was a speaker I heard at PLA in 2004 that first lit the spark for me about the importance for public libraries to go green. She even graciously lent us her PowerPoint presentation she had done for my 2006 Green Libraries Program at the Mid-Hudson Library System: Going Green: Building a Sustainable Library This has become attributed to us but really it was Josie’s!

Green Policy

Here are two examples of a green policy. The first, from a public library, is a great example of trying to create a comprehensive approach to greening the institution. The second, from an academic library, is more like a mission statement to allow the organization to address the issue. Both give license to the leaders of the organization to pursue greening the library and allow them to promote a commitment to greening to their internal and external audiences.

  1. The Wells Branch Community Library
  2. Birkbeck Library @Birkbeck University of London

Sustainable Spectrum ©

Greening libraries is so interesting because there is a significant spectrum of options for libraries to choose from, from the simple and inexpensive – if not free – (CFLs, recycling, power settings on computers, programs for the public), to the elaborate and expensive (or at least seemingly expensive when just looking at first-costs) (geothermal, greywater systems, solar electric systems).

Thinking of “going green” holistically is a bit overwhelming because it can impact every area of library operations: construction; facility maintenance – cleaning, air quality, landscaping, etc.; purchasing – paper, cups, cleaning supplies; technology; collection development; programming; messaging; funding….but we have to start somewhere.

Don’t dismiss the idea of “going green” because you think it only applies to libraries lucky enough to be building new or expanding their facility.

This week I’ll be taking a look at libraries who have implemented green policies and sharing them.