Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Library Journal Design Institute: Going Green

I recently attended the Library Journal Design Institute: Going Green in Chicago. The Design Institute is offered free of charge to librarians who are in the process of building a new library. The North Texas Regional Library System paid for my travel expenses. In return, I have to conduct two workshops for area libraries on what I learned at the Design Institute.

The Design Institute was held at the downtown Chicago Public Library located on 400 S. State Street. It is the largest library in the world! If you ever go to Chicago, you need to see it. The library houses over 7 million materials. Patrons use escalators and elevators to move from floor to floor. As a librarian, it was wonderful just to sit in it.

Our new library project was selected for a focus group based on the challenges that we face with the new Food Lion. I was pleased to learn that by purchasing an existing building, we have already implemented a major green element by recycling. The adaptive reuse of the Food Lion will have a smaller impact on the environment since we will not be using a large amount of natural resources to build a new library.

Denelle Wrightson from PSA-Dewberry looked at the Food Lion and suggested Green solutions for solving problems. She used a covered patio to shade the front of the library from the west sun. The north side of the building was lined with windows to let in natural light without creating hotspots or glare. Landscaping was introduced throughout the parking lot to eliminate the heat island effect. High windows would be placed along the south side and strategically placed sky lights would be put in the roof. Light monitors would be installed to automatically adjust light as needed.

In order to reduce utilities, PSA-Dewberry suggested installing a Geothermal System which uses the earth to heat and cool a building. This would reduce our energy use by 50%. A highly reflective roof, would also reduce energy consumption. She also suggested harvesting water through a cistern to irrigate the landscaping. It was exciting to see all the different ways that green design elements can be used to make our new library beautiful, energy efficient and minimize our impact on the surrounding environment.

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