One of the main goals for the design of the Howell Branch was to achieve a high level of sustainable design. We've done this through the use of recycled and non-toxic materials and energy-efficient lighting and design.
Many of the materials used in construction will contain a high percentage of recycled content. For example, there are two different types of materials that will be used for the countertops. The first one is composed entirely from post-consumer (i.e. things that people have used and recycled) plastic milk jugs and detergent bottles. The other countertop material is composed of recycled aluminum scrap metal encapsulated in an acrylic resin. The carpet, the rubber floor, and the ceiling tiles will also contain a high percentage of recycled content.
In addition, we tried to select products that produced little or no waste during the manufacturing process which
greatly reduces the amount of material going into landfills.
We also focused on selecting materials with little or no harmful fumes (Volatile Organic Compounds or VOCs) as well as materials from a rapidly renewable resource. For example, all of the paint is low VOC so there will be no unpleasant odor when applied and throughout its life on the wall. The carpet and its adhesives also contain little or no VOCs. For the millwork, we specified bamboo which is a rapidly renewable resource.
In addition to these material selection goals, we also focused on energy and atmosphere related goals - saving energy and reducing carbon emissions. All of the selected lighting utilizes high-efficiency lamps. Most of the fixtures have daylight sensors which will dim the lighting levels in the library during the day as the natural daylight
penetrates the space in order to reduce the energy load of the building.
We are using carbon dioxide detectors in the air handling system so as not to bring in excessive ventilation air from outside, which would require more energy to heat or cool as required. We are also using a variable air volume system to reduce the fan energy required. Further, we are using a digital control system to monitor the system to make sure it is as efficient as possible.
The roof will be highly reflective (white) in order to reduce the heat absorption of the sun's rays into the building. This will reduce the energy consumption of the building in the warmer months.
In addition, the site has many alternative transportation features to help reduce the number of single cars that access the building daily. The site is in a relatively population dense area so that a large number of users can walk or bike to the library. There will be plenty of bicycle racks near the entrance. Also, the library will also be on at least one bus route for folks who live a little further away.