Libraries for sustainable development

How can libraries do more for the future generations and for the sustainable development?

Libraries can do a lot in different actions as follows:

  • Libraries preserve books for future generations.
  • Libraries preserve knowledge for future generations.
  • Libraries can be built originally as green libraries or they can be modernized according to one of the green building rating systems (e.g.: LEED)
  • Libraries can be established essentially by green collections or some sections of traditional libraries can be improved to green deparments or corners. (Topics of the books can be sustainable development, enviroment protection, enviroment pollution, ecology, climate, enviromental education, global problems etc.)
  • Libraries can take part in enviromental education.

“Libraries can be built originally as green libraries…” So, what does it mean exactly?” Green libraries are a part of the larger green buliding movement. Also known as sustainable libraries and they are being built all over the world. Along with library 2.0, green library design is a new trend, defining the library of the 21st century.

These new library buildings are built according to one of the green building rating systems.

The most familiar green building rating systems are

–        BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assesment Method) – United Kingdom

–        LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) – USA

–        DGNB – a german system

–        Green Building Programme – European Union

In the case of green libraries the most popular system is LEED.

Under the LEED system, a green building is one that is built incorporating the following design elements:

–        Sustainable site selection and development

–        Water conservation

–        Energy efficiency

–        Local resources, material conservation and waste reduction

–        Indoor environmental quality

–        Innovation in design

The levels of qualifications are: Certified, Silver, Gold, Platinum

In case of library buildings there are special needs that you can take into consideration. Books must be kept away from extreme temperatures, moisture, and sunlight (especially damaging ultra-violet rays). A common strategy in green design is to raise the floors to increase circulation. The weight of the stacks makes it difficult to carry out. Green libraries would be built to last, to flexibly respond to changing functional demands, to provide an environment that is inspiring and safe, as well as to perform efficiently, providing great financial value to the community that supported its creation. Green libraries need to be built flexibly, in order to make room for expansions in size and in wiring capabilities. They are long term investments into the community, so when designing them architects need to be looking 50 or 100 years into the future.

One of my favourite green libraries is Minneapolis Central Library from the USA.

Rengeteg könyv található szabad polcon, de a számítógépek használata sokkal jellemzőbbIt was built in 2005 and opened May 20, 2006.

It is 32.800 gross square metres.

And there is an additional 13.000 square metres of underground parking. 96% of the previous existing library was recycled as was construction waste whenever possible.

Underfloor displacement cooling technology adds 20% running efficiency.

The self-supporting stair and glass railings and elevator makes the interior feel very much connected.

With no interior load-bearing walls, the library will accommodate changes in technology and use of space.

There is an 1700 gross square metres green roof on the top of the Minneapolis Central Library.

What is a green roof?

Green roof refers to a system of roofing that uses plant life for roof covering instead of traditional covering materials. The plants that cover the roof provide an excellent insulation to the building reducing business electricity and business gas consumption significantly, but they also act as a natural filter for rainwater which means that they significantly reduce the amount of rain drainage.

On the green roof system of the library employs two water management systems, working together, to retain the storm water that reaches the property to be captured and reused.

The benefits anticipated for the green roofs on the new library go beyond storm water management and also include:

  • Reduced building energy consumption
  • New green space in downtown Minneapolis
  • Reduction of urban heat island signature
  • Improved internal air quality
  • Increased longevity of the library’s roof system
  • Establishes a model for clean and sustainable building design in Minneapolis
And for librarians, I would like to mention an interesting fact. Almost 100% of the collection accessible to the public (earlier it was 15%).

In these days sustainability is a current topic. I think, through these examples, you can see that libraries can do a lot in different actions for sustainable development.These green library buildings are not only for reducing energy consumption, for cut the save money. These buildings are for giving good examples how we could live and how we can be environment-conscious. There will be more and more green libraries with more an more functions that make the world better.

Pictures about Minneapolis Central Library by Attila Pegán and Doro. More Pictures:


Extensive green roofs top off the new minneapolis central public library.

 Enviromental Science & Technology.

 Green Library.

 Green Library. Wikipedia.

 The greenroof projects database. Minneapolis Central Library.

 Hennepin County Library

 Information about Green and Sustainable Libraries.

 Inhabitat. Green Library.

 Minneapolis Central Library

 A new central library opens its previously closed stacks to literate Minneapolis.



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