Bottled Water Battle

At our April 2010 Greening Your Library workshop we tested supplying tap water instead of bottled water and guess what, no one said a word. We’re not even sure anyone noticed.

@MHLS our new interim director, Merribeth Advocate (a master at reducing costs), just declared we will no longer purchase bottled water to supply at our workshops. Good for the environment and good for our ever shrinking budget!

Facts about bottled water:

  • Bottled water isn’t necessarily purer than tap water. An investigation by the Environmental Working Group, released in October 2008, found chemical contaminants in every brand tested — including disinfection byproducts, fertilizer residue, and pain medication. [1]
  • 80 percent of plastic bottles end up in landfills or are burned in incinerators [2] that’s 3 billion pounds of waste annually. [3]
  • 17 million barrels of oil are used in the production of water bottles annually…enough to fuel 1 million cars for a year. [3]
  • See also, NYTimes article “The Battle Over Bottled Water” from their Green Blog

“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

Serenbe

Steve Nygren, one of the founders of Serenbe, a “conservation community,” in Georgia, was the luncheon speaker at the Library Journal’s 2010 Design Institute in Atlanta, GA on April 30, 2010. Due to technical difficulties his time was cut short but even in the short time he was given he managed to capture me from start to finish.

I had this ridiculously huge grin on my face throughout the presentation as he described what has to be one of the most well thought out community development projects in America, if not the world.

“Serenbe’s ultimate goal is to demonstrate how development can accommodate the need for housing with minimal
impact on nature—Serenbe’s land plan call for a preservation of at least 70% of the acreage, while
accommodating as many or more people as traditional subdivision-style development, which would
disturb nearly 80%.”

Thoughtful design of housing, landscaping, forests, food and – at the core of it all – a community.

“Serenbe is 1000 acres; at least 70% will always be preserved green space. geo-thermal heated buildings
This market sells organic & local goods, including produce from the Serenbe Organic Farms Next door, the Blue Eyed Daisy Bakeshop is the smallest Silver LEED certified building in the nation Walkability: everything in Serenbe is connected via a walking path All homes are EarthCraft Certified Native plants & organic landscaping (no lawns = no chemicals) Underground trashcans sort trash, recycling & compost Serenbe: Green at a Glance outdoor lighting regulations = clear, starry skies”

There is a “trash concierge”: homes have in-ground trash receptacles where color-coded bags for recyclables, trash and compost are discarded. Instead of a noisy dump truck rolling by every week, this garbage is picked up by a “concierge” on a golf cart. The compost is used as fertilizer on the farm. Others are taken to a recycling center or a city landfill. [from an article in Savannahnow.com]

While blown away and hungry for more – one thing struck me… there was no mention of a library in the community…

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

Commitment From the Top: “do good and do well at the same time”

Libraries have a lot of policies to contend with – patron code of conduct, personnel, and oh-so-many more – so it is understandable that not many libraries have adopted green or sustainability policies.

In the grand tradition of learning from others take a look at how other industries are stating their commitment to “be green” – is this part of their marketing ploys? Why yes, of course. But there is a smidge of hope in all of this, someone, somewhere in these companies does actually care about this stuff and is assigned to work on it I’m sure:

  • FujiFilm: “At Fujifilm we are working to shrink our carbon footprint and water footprint, use natural resources and packaging materials more efficiently, and minimize waste generation and environmental risk.”
  • Loews Hotels & Resorts: “committed to being environmentally responsible and will make steady, measured progress in our efforts. We will seek every reasonable opportunity to incorporate “green” standards and practices into all aspects of our business. We will identify and mandate specific brand-wide practices that embrace our responsibility and we will make prudent investments in technologies and programs that will allow us to do good and do well at the same time.”
  • Google’s Green Employee Program – can I just say: “Wow.”

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