InfoGreen Information About KCLS
All the Ways KCLS is Going Green
From green materials in the collection to environmentally friendly building practices, the King County Library System (KCLS) continues to look for opportunities to support identified green standards. In the past few years, KCLS has done quite a bit to make Mother Nature happy. The following are a few notable eco-friendly endeavors.
Building to Green StandardsWhen new libraries are built and existing libraries are renovated, KCLS is taking steps to ensure that green standards are followed. This is especially important as enhancements are planned for all 44 KCLS libraries to meet community needs during the next decade as part of the Capital Bond Improvement Projects. Although KCLS is not required to adhere to official green building standards, an environmentally friendly building approach is a priority. The principle is to build as greenly as possible, while being fiscally responsible.
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.
There are a few unique projects, however, such as the new Burien Library. This library will be LEED-certified as it is being planned in conjunction with the new Burien City Hall and the city will fund some of the certification cost. The new Sammamish Library also is being designed with some additional green features, such as a partial green roof and radiant heating.
Transitioning to Eco-Friendly BagsOffering patrons eco-friendly bags for carrying their library materials is another way KCLS is choosing to adopt greener practices. A supply of eco-friendly BioBags was ordered in early March 2008 after staff explored available options to traditional plastic bags. The bags were first offered at KCLS libraries beginning in June 2008. The eco-friendly bags, called BioBags, are 100 percent compostable and biodegradable.
BioBags are produced from cornstarch and vegetable oil, rather than polyethylene, which is used to produce most plastic bags. Even the inks and dyes that are used to color the bags are soybean-based. It may take more than 100 years before a plastic bag even begins to degrade, whereas BioBags are designed to decompose in less than a year.
Applying for FSC CertificationMotivated by a commitment to ensure the best possible use of natural resources, KCLS is applying to have its in-house print shop certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). The certification will verify that print materials produced for our libraries adhere to the highest environmental standards. KCLS may be the first library system to gain this type of certification. A nonprofit organization that advocates for the responsible management of forests, the FSC has developed a set of standards to help ensure that forestry is conducted in an environmentally responsible manner. An increasing number of businesses and organizations that handle or process wood products are obtaining certification to show that they adhere to FSC standards. As the second busiest library system in the U.S., KCLS’ in-house print shop produces a large number of materials for 43 community libraries. Called the FSC Chain-of-Custody Certificate, the certification will assure KCLS patrons and staff that each entity that handles the wood product is FSC-Certified, from the time it is harvested from the forest until it is turned into paper and delivered to the KCLS print shop.
The KCLS InfoGreen campaign, launched concurrently with the redesigned KCLS Web site in August of 2007, highlights KCLS’ green resources and also encourages patrons to utilize library resources when making environmentally friendly choices that pertain to driving, building, recycling, buying, living and working. The collection of infoGreen library materials includes books for adults, children and students as well as magazines, DVDs and a listing of Web sites where people may find more information about specific green topics, such as climate change or alternative energy. Check back often to www.kcls.org/infogreen as new updates are made regularly.
A Green Work EnvironmentProviding 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. New recycling bins, with half garbage and half recycling, make it easier to recycle. The KCLS fleet of vehicles now includes hybrid cars, such as the Toyota Prius, to conserve fossil fuels. And to encourage carpooling, designated parking spaces are included in site designs.
Last Updated: November 21, 2008