The Standard for KCLS Libraries: Green
The King County Library System (KCLS) is taking steps to ensure that “green” standards are followed when new libraries are built and existing libraries are renovated. This is especially important as enhancements are planned for all 43 KCLS libraries to meet community needs during the next decade. Although KCLS is not required to adhere to official green building standards, an environmentally friendly building approach is nonetheless a priority. The principle is to build as greenly as possible, while being fiscally responsible.
Adhering to Best PracticesBuilding green entails designing and constructing buildings that help reduce negative impacts buildings traditionally have on the environment. There are five areas that green building standards target: site planning, water conservation, energy savings, recycled materials and the quality of the indoor environment. To ensure that KCLS libraries are built in accordance with acceptable green guidelines, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards are followed. The standards are well-known in the building industry, although fiscal responsibility prevents most KCLS libraries from gaining official certification.
Building Green from the Start
From the beginning of the planning and site design process for each new or renovated library, KCLS adheres to green practices. The Library System’s site selection policy requires new facilities to be built in urban areas and in close proximity to transit centers. New buildings also are sited to take advantage of natural lighting. Architects who are LEED-certified are hired and contractors are encouraged to use recycled materials to help conserve natural resources. Many green building materials and furnishings are cost-effective, as they last longer or result in lower utility costs, including the following:
- Energy-efficient compact fluorescent lights, which use less electricity for the same level of illumination as incandescent lights.
- Paint, adhesives and sealants with low levels of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), to improve the quality of air inside libraries.
- Furniture, including workstations, produced with recycled materials.
- Modular carpeting, which does not contain Polyvinyl Chloride (PVCs) and is produced by a company that collects their used carpeting to be restored and resold.
- Low-flow fixtures for toilets, sinks and showers to conserve water.
A Green Work EnvironmentSupporting environmentally friendly behavior at KCLS libraries is achieved with a variety of approaches. New recycling bins, with half garbage and half recycling, make it easier to recycle. To encourage library staff to bike to work, bicycle racks are provided, as well as showers at larger facilities. For employee transportation, hybrid cars, such as the Toyota Prius, will be provided to conserve fossil fuels. And to encourage carpooling, designated parking spaces are included in site designs.
A Few Unique Projects
Although it is not feasible to certify most library improvement projects, the new Burien Library will be LEED-certified. This is due to planning the new library in conjunction with construction of the new Burien City Hall at Burien Town Center. As a joint development, the city offered to fund one-third of the cost associated with LEED certification, which includes consultant fees required to develop documentation and application fees. The library will be certified when construction is completed in 2009. Learn more about the sustainable features of the new Burien Library.
The new Sammamish Library also is being designed with some additional green features, although it will not be officially LEED-certified. Preliminary designs for the library, which will be 20,000 square feet of new construction, include a partial green roof as well as radiant heating. As the site is located near a residential area, the vegetation on the green roof will absorb water, therefore reducing storm water runoff. The rooftop garden also will add an extra layer of insulation, saving energy as it keeps the building cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Radiant heating also will help conserve energy as the heating system supplies heat directly to the floor. This keeps the lower part of the room at a consistent temperature and eliminates the need to heat the entire building.
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