All the Ways KCLS is Green
From green materials in the collection to environmentally friendly building practices, the King County Library System (KCLS) supports green standards. The past few years, KCLS has done quite a bit to make Mother Nature happy.
Building to Green Standards
Although KCLS is not required to adhere to official green building standards, an environmentally friendly building approach is a priority when new libraries are built and existing libraries are renovated. Green building standards target five areas: site planning, water conservation, energy savings, recycled materials and the quality of the indoor environment.
KCLS follows Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards to ensure that KCLS libraries are built in accordance with acceptable industry guidelines, but fiscal responsibility prevents most KCLS libraries from gaining official certification.From the beginning of the planning and site design process for each new or renovated library, KCLS adheres to green practices, including:
- New buildings are built in urban areas and in close proximity to transit centers
- New buildings are sited to take advantage of natural lighting
- LEED-certified architects are hired
- Contractors are encouraged to use recycled materials to help conserve natural resources
- Energy-efficient compact fluorescent lights
- Paint, adhesives and sealants with low levels of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
- Furniture, including workstations, produced with recycled materials
- Modular carpeting, which does not contain Polyvinyl Chloride (PVCs)
- Low-flow fixtures for toilets, sinks and showers to conserve water
A Few LEED Certified Projects
Although it is not feasible to LEED Certify most library improvement projects due to the cost, one project has gained certification and another is anticipated to be certified. The Burien Library, completed in 2009, is LEED Silver Certified. As a joint development with the city of Burien, the city funded one-third of the cost associated with LEED certification, which includes consultant fees required to develop documentation and application fees. The Duvall Library, completed in August 2012, was designed to meet LEED Silver standards and is anticipated to gain official certification. The most distinctive green features of the Duvall Library are a green roof and a ground source heat pump, which uses the earth's relatively constant temperature to provide heating, cooling and hot water.
Several KCLS libraries feature rain gardens, including Federal Way, Sammamish, Kenmore, Auburn, Covington and Fairwood Libraries. A rain garden consists of native trees, shrubs and grasses planted in composted-amended soil in a shallow depression. Pipes help redirect water from rooftops, driveways and other hard surfaces into the rain garden before it enters local waterways. Rain gardens help reduce pollution, flooding and provide habitat for wildlife.
A Green Work Environment
Providing KCLS staff with an environmentally friendly work environment also is a priority. To encourage library staff to bike to work, bicycle racks are provided, as well as showers at larger facilities. Recycling bins, with half garbage and half recycling, make it easier to recycle. The KCLS fleet of vehicles also includes hybrid cars to conserve fossil fuels. To encourage carpooling, designated parking spaces are included in site designs.
Last Updated: January 15, 2013