Leading by Example: Toward More Sustainable Communities

Program Description: Leading by Example: Toward More Sustainable Communities – 10/20/08 – 8:30 – 10:00 am

You can prepare for the gathering perfect storm of global warming and energy scarcity by adopting practical ideas from the real world of greenbuilding design and operation. A panel of experts including architect William M. Brown from Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf in Indianapolis, IN, Mary Ann List, Director of the Portsmouth (NH) Public Library and Kathy Ryan, Co-Chair of the Tiverton (RI) Building Committee, raise some important questions. Where do we start on the path to sustainability, and just how far can the vision take us?

Impressions –

This session took a sort of present, past, and future approach to the subject of sustainable design. Bill Brown ran down the type of considerations that need to be made in a nuts and bolts sort way. In addition, he gave many examples of actual libraries that have been built. These libraries are green and sustainable, they are beautiful, they are part of their communities and from their communities. Overall, I really enjoyed hearing the mix of facts and figures with the real life examples. He also gave a great list of readings and slides are available on the NELA website.

Mary Ann List and the Portsmouth (NH) Public Library served as a wonderful example of how Bill’s recommendations are put into action, but more importantly, how a project like this can serve as a pioneer in the community where it is built. Her library is now the example by which new sustainable projects in Portsmouth are measured. Kathy Ryan is in the planning process for the Tiverton (RI) library and her libraries’ consideration of local tradition, peoples and history coupled with the new design showed how many ways that you can honor the past and provide new ways to invigorate tradition through a project like this.

Bill Brown –

Take an Extreme Makeover type response to your library redesign…get the community involved early and often, and in a major way. Have them help design it. Create the heroic story that will generate love for the place and the project. The building itself can tell a story of the community that increases it’s love value. The staff make the library lovable, too, a lovable library is one that will get the money. Involve everyone who contributes to that process.

Response able – design in flexibility and multiple situation response. Form follows multiple functions, how can your library be like the limb of a tree…not just the structure, but the conduit and fruit bearor and critter highway. Future proofing is the same as future embracing, make the building serve as many purposes as possible.

Green does not necessarily mean expensive or risky. Examples of libraries that are green that do not cost a ridiculous amount are out there, and need to be part of the feasibility study. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel, especially in this day in age when there is so much more information available.

Renovating is a greener choice because of the embodied energy…it’s already there, more energy does not need to be expended to redo what exists already. This doesn’t always mean this is the right choice for you, but it shouldn’t just be ruled out in favor of starting from scratch.

Disaster resistant construction – Choice of location and materials, daylight, ability to open windows are all low key ways for be green and future proof. There are design issues that will save you money and heartache later. Have disaster plans in place at the building planning process, then the responsibility is not retroactive.

A building build strictly to code is the worst building you can legally build! So build and design and dream to a higher standard.

Davis Langdon – LEED libraries construction costs are not necessarily more expensive. What costs money is getting an architect that knows how to do it and cares to do it right. Libraries are early adopters of green design, and open to sustainable design, so let’s capitalize on it.

Contact: bbrown@bdmd.com and http://www.frombrowntogreen.blogspot.com

Mary Ann List –

LEED is just one metric, there are a lot of ways to build green, but the LEED gives a way to measure and quantify the greenness and sustainability of the effort. Is a great way to provide data points to justify a project.

They call their Circulation the Welcome desk, which got me thinking that new ideas in building can also lead to thinking about new language for how things are described. The changes that are sustainable are not always just to the physical space.

A building must integrate the sustainability goals with library service goals and mission. Knit them together at the planning phase so they are not at odds later.

Use this as an opportunity to use and support the local economy. Using local folks and materials for their expertise and to get folks involved in the library projects. Look at it as an opportunity to be a leader in the community on non-library specific points.

Kathy Ryan –

LOC does not have a subject heading for sustainability, so it is difficult to search for this stuff using the common terms.

Plan to honor the traditions of an area and respect the peoples and communities that are pre-existing. Know your town, know your region, and use that knowledge to build in a way that respects, elevates, and provides opportunity for growth in traditional practices.

Attend some of the hot new green design conferences…there’s one in Hartford coming up hosted by Library Journal and the Connecticut Library Association called Library Journal Design Institute East – Going Green coming up December 4th.

Q & A –

Q – Are there grants out there for collection development for green/sustainable architecture?

A – Friends can help with that kind of thing financially. Santa Monica Public Library & King County Washington Library System have good lists for collection development. Greenlibraries.org is a great site for keeping current and getting ideas. DSIRE is a database for grant money for alternative energy projects.

Q – Natural light is great, but sunlight destroys books. So how do you manage that damage?

A – You can block UV with window films, turn the stacks away from the windows.

Q – Are there rules of thumb for size of a population & square footage?

A –The past assumptions on size were often wrong, so now we need to look toward the future. Assess the community and base square footage on what you know now and long range plans. Look at the standards, but don’t feel tethered to them. Use them as checks and balances or a starting point. Library associations and accreditation boards are a good place to look for those numbers for your area.


One Response

  1. This is quite a hot info. I think I’ll share it on Twitter.

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