Be Inspired by the West Vancouver Memorial Library!

It is also our goal to inspire others and share that becoming more sustainable can be accomplished one small step at a time.”
-Tara Matsuzaki, librarian, West Vancouver Memorial Library.


The West Vancouver Memorial Library recently became the first existing building in Western Canada, and the only library in Canada, to be awarded Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification.

They didn’t just rack up points to get to LEED Existing Buildings: Operations & Management (O&M) Silver, they made an organizational commitment from the ground up to be more sustainable.

They have a Staff Green Team to help shape goals, develop procedures and find the resources to achieve their sustainable goals. They put their money where their mouth is and promote the ecologically-friendly behaviors of the staff: more than 50% of the staff bike, walk or use mass transit to get to work. They produced a “Green Commuting” poster to help show how they are leading by example. This ground-up approach provides buy-in throughout the organization. (For more on Green Teams check out SustainableLibraries.org posts about the Mid-Hudson Library System’s Green Team!)

The library adopted a Green Building Operations Policy. The stated goal of the policy is to guide the library towards “improving building performance, reducing costs, creating more productive and healthy work and public spaces as well as affording the Library the opportunity to take a leadership role in environmental stewardship for our community.” Inspired yet? You should be!

The policy guides decisions related to:

  • Purchasing
  • Housekeeping
  • Solid Waste Management (e.g. recycling and purchasing materials with recycled content)
  • Integrated Pest Management, Erosion Control and Landscape Management
  • Plumbing

The structure of the policy document itself is commendable as well, there is a “Performance Metric” section that helps define how to “implement, monitor and evaluate sustainable practices.” Check out the full policy here.

The library has made a concerted effort to manage the power consumption of their 56,000 square feet. Over the years there were a series of expansion projects that left the library with a variety of mechanical, electrical and roofing systems. “In 2010 we combined and upgraded the controls for our HVAC system, allowing us to run the system more efficiently and achieve a higher level of comfort.” They also replaced all single pane windows on one level with automated, energy efficient windows that are tied to their HVAC system to allow for air cooling. They also use a fairly awesome web-based energy management software to track their energy consumption! Check out their “Pulse Energy Dashboard.”

One of the many things I love about this library is that sustainability is written into their current long-range plan. After asking 1500 of their users what is most important to them for the library to focus on in the future, sustainability became one of their top strategic priorities. But nothing so direct as “we’ll have a green building.” Sustainability is woven throughout each priority, from staff and collection development, to communication and community partnerships. It is most clearly outlined in the priority “Manage Resources Wisely.” What taxpayer or donor wouldn’t respond well to that?

This is what SustainableLibraries.org is all about. Libraries of all types have a constant need to prove that we are a good return on investment to inspire our public and our donors to reinvest. Sustainable buildings, operations and programs are excellent ways to expand people’s understanding that we are good stewards of their tax dollars, their education, our environment and ultimately, our communities.

“Sustainability” should be threaded throughout an entire organization, not just its facility.

WVML is a shining example of how to do things right!

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!

Tipping Point?

So Earth Day 2011… less fanfare perhaps than for the 40th anniversary in 2010 but a milestone nonetheless. I’m declaring a milestone because “the profession” seems to be finally acknowledging that sustainable library buildings are here to stay.

Here are the two big examples:

  1. Cover of March/April 2011 issue of American Libraries declares: “Stairway to Sustainability” and features 19 library projects in the annual showcase that best exemplify sustainable building features and/or Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certification.
  2. The State of America’s Libraries, 2011 Report kicks off the section on Library Construction and Renovation by noting the ever increasing number of libraries pursuing sustainable features and LEED certification. (They feature the Crandall Public Library in Glens Falls, NY which, you may recall, I featured in my Sustainable Restoration of Historic Buildings presentation last fall to the Upstate NY Chapter of the USGBC):

In 2010, eight of the 85 submissions to American Libraries’ annual Library Design Showcase were certified under the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) program developed by the U.S. Green Building Council; in 2001, only eight buildings—of any type—had been LEED-certified. Another 11 libraries were actively seeking certification.

Notice they mention the number eight twice in the quote above? Well here’s another “eight” for you: For those of you who follow Sustainable Libraries on Facebook, you know this already… but for everyone else… Last month alone I reported on eight libraries with a significant sustainable features (solar, geothermal, green roof) or with LEED certification.

Pretty exciting eh?

 

Crandall Public Library Folklife Center

I recently visited the Crandall Public Library in Glens Falls, NY. I was lucky enough to get a tour of the facility from their director, Christine McDonald. The greatly expanded library was LEED certified in early 2010 and I was looking to learn more about their building as it is the only LEED library project in NY, that I’m aware of, that included a renovation to a historic structure as well as a newly constructed addition.

The library boasts a daylight harvesting system (that works!), curtain walls, low-VOC paints, carpets and finishes, and a white roof but what really caught my eye was their Folklife Center.

Crandall’s Center for Folklife, History & Cultural Programs is housed in the basement but is immediately accessible down a lovely staircase visible from the main entrance. The Center offers:

  • General Tours
  • Archival Treasure Hunts
  • Guess What I Collect
  • Folk Artist Residencies
  • Tape Recorded Interviews
  • Photograph Your World
  • Book Boxes
  • Women’s History
  • Essay Contest
  • Genealogy Workshops

What I really like about this program area in a public library is the tie in to the commitment this library has made to its community to be a sustainable organization. The idea that the library has devoted so much space to the preservation and continuing education about a way of life, a way of life that celebrates nature and crafts in the Adirondacks, is a strong message of valuing the natural world that dovetails so nicely with the library’s LEED building.

Just as Louise Schaper had done at Fayettville, continuing their commitment to a sustainable facility into their day-to-day operations, Crandall has created a sustainability thread into services and programs. This reinforces the whole idea of sustainability or the “capacity to endure,” which really encourages the public to consider what came before them and what will be left for future generations.

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.”

Louise & the Eco Machine

Can’t resist sharing my good luck, this past week I finally had a chance to check out the Omega Institute’s Eco Machine. An Eco Machine is a natural wastewater treatment system. Omega’s plan is to use the resulting graywater to irrigate gardens and flush toilets.

Omega is a pretty fascinating place all around, but their Center for Sustainable Living is pretty remarkable, they are expected to be the first building in the United States to receive the Living Building designation in addition to receiving LEED Platinum certification. Some highlights:

  • wastewater turns to greywater within 36 hours through constructed wetlands
  • 20 geothermal wells
  • concrete that complies with the Living Building Challenge’s Red List*
  • net metering from solar array
  • partial green roof
  • No PVC
  • plywood in mechanical room from Obama’s inauguration stage!

To top it off I got to meet Louise Schaper who traveled to New York (coming all the way from Arkansas) to visit family and added a stop into Omega to check out the Eco Machine with me. Not quite sure which I was more excited about!

*LBC Red List (The project cannot contain any of the following red list materials or chemicals.):

No added formaldehyde
Halogenated Flame Retardants18
PVC19
Mercury20
CFC’s
HCFC’s
Neoprene (chloroprene)
Cadmium
Chlorinated Polyethylene and Chlorosulfonated Polyethlene21
Wood treatments containing Creosote, Arsenic or Pentachlorophenol
Polyurethane
Lead22
Phthalates

“Library in the Woods”

The Fairplay Public Library in Douglas County Georgia is about to break ground, it will be a brand new library, not just a new library building, but a new library – in a previously unserved area. Very exciting.

The concept for the 15,800-square foot Fairplay Library is to nest among the trees and natural surroundings of the 900-acre Dog River property. The property borders the Dog River Reservoir, the major drinking water source for Douglas County, and the vast majority of the site will be kept in its pristine state to serve as a future passive park and to help protect the water supply. The new library will be on the property’s western side with direct access from Georgia Highway 5. However, the library site will be approximately 1,200 feet into the property in a peaceful and serene setting.

The “library in the woods” concept was proposed by the project’s architects, Ponder & Ponder, Architects, of Norcross, so that the new building would co-exist with the natural surroundings and not interfere with the natural protected setting. The parking lot will be woven between existing trees, and existing topography will be used as much as possible. Native plants will be used in portions of the landscape to eliminate the need for irrigation systems, and rainwater will be captured and used as water features around the building. The outside of the library will complement the natural setting, using stone, wood and other natural elements for the exterior surfaces.

-From a press release issued by Douglas County, GA

The design is aiming for LEED certification and will include:

  • daylight harvesting
  • high-efficiency insulated windows
  • high-efficiency light bulbs
  • high-efficiency HVAC units
  • low water use fixtures
  • insulation for the building is almost double the minimum standard requirement
  • the roof will be heat reflective
  • low VOC (volatile organic compounds) paint and stain will be used
  • solar shading will be over the windows
  • building is physically oriented northwest-southeast to utilize the light, but not receive the heat

“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!