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The Central Library’s green building difference

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The Central Library is directly on the trolley line, with stops two blocks away to the north at Park Boulevard and Market Street, and south at the Imperial Transfer Center.

Thanks to the city’s commitment to green building design, the new Central Library is scheduled to be 18 percent more energy-efficient than is required by the California energy code. This commitment is reflected in the city’s goal for this building to achieve a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council for its environmentally friendly elements incorporated into the design.

The specific location, bounded by Park Boulevard, 11th Avenue and J Street in the East Village near Petco Park was chosen for its urban density and community connectivity, both of which contribute to it being environmentally friendly. Alternate transportation options for library users and employees are available, including more than 500 trolley and bus stops each day within 1/4 mile of the library. There are also 66 sheltered bike racks and nine electric vehicle (EV) charging stations.

When this site was chosen, it was an old police station fueling station. Since this tract of land had been used for industrial purposes, it was polluted. Through advanced soil preparation prior to construction, the land was transformed from a “brownfield” to “cleanfield.”

Materials used in the construction of the building contribute to it being a green building. Adhesives, sealants, paints and flooring installed have low volatile organic compound content. Many materials installed in the building have high recycled content or were harvested and manufactured within 500 miles of this site. Smart energy meters turn off the lights when there is sufficient natural light. Carbon dioxide sensors and controls were installed that monitor outside air quality to assure fresh air indoors. Also, more than 75 percent of construction waste was diverted from landfills.

Water is used efficiently inside and outside the library. Inside the building, water use has been reduced by more than 40 percent compared to the EPA Act of 1992 standard through the use of ultralow-flow fixtures, aerators and timers. Landscape irrigation was reduced by more than 50 percent by installing drought-tolerant plant species and efficient irrigation controls.

An innovative green building education program is being designed to inform building users of the many sustainable project features. The new Central Library is a great example and excellent teaching demonstration site for how it is possible to go green and have a beautiful, functional and cost-effective building.

-Bryant is the LEED AP job captain for Tucker Sadler Architects.

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