by Joe Sciacca LTLS Consultant
I attended a session on "Small Scale Green" activities for libraries. Often people think that building a new building or doing a major remodeling is the only time to plan for incorporating sustainable features into their library. But actually there is quite a lot that can be done by libraries that are not planning major building or remodeling projects.
One point made was that people often use artificially short time horizons for calculating the payback time of a proposed expense. This comes mainly from commercial cost models where a quick payback is needed to justify the expenditure. Instead librarians should think of our buildings as durable goods, and use very long time horizons for evaluating the cost of energy-saving projects. Let's assume you determine that the expense of replacing old incandescent light fixtures with energy efficient fluorescent bulbs would take 6 years to be paid back by the cost savings in electrical usage. How should you evaluate your decision? Rather than thinking only how long the 6 year period is, think also about how long you will be in the building after the payback period.
The session also was a good chance to hear about innovative techniques for reducing the energy footprint of library buildings. Earth ducting involves placing air ducting underground where the earth's core temperature is a constant temperature helps reduce the amount of air conditioning needed. Earth-based heat pumps also use the cool core temperature of the earth to pre-cool ventilation air and reduce AC needs. Ice storage is an innovative concept where cheaper night time electrical power is used to make and store ice and the cold air from the melting ice is used during the day to reduce the air conditoning load. In an effort to squeeze value out of every BTU of conditioned air, some planners are also suggesting ways to place computer servers in the ducting system to allow downstream cool air to pass over the servers before being vented outside. Green roof designs are also becoming more popular especially in urban environments, where they can reduce the heat sink effect of large buildings which absorb heat during the day and release it at night causing urban areas to be warmer than normal at night. Libraries of any size can also use native landscaping to reduce the amount of watering that is needed.
There is a wealth of information and energy-saving ideas for your library at the Building Green website and the US Green Buildings website.
I also attended two sessions presented by ALA's Washington Office on the broadband stimulus funding grants. The first of three rounds of funding has just begun and applications in the first round are due by August 14th. Additional rounds are expected in the Fall of 2009 and early in 2010. Funding is available for increasing broadband bandwidth and for creation of public access computing centers in libraries. Proposals are to be submitted online and require a 20% match by the applicant.
A statewide application for funding for public access computer centers is being contemplated for Illinois. If this develops, further information will be available from the Illinois State Library for libraries that may wish to join this aggregate application.
The best place to keep up with new developments and to get documentation and guidelines is through the following websites.
ALA District Dispatch - http://www.wo.ala.org/districtdispatch/
News for librarians from the ALA Washington Office, including videos of ALA conference presentations on the stimulus programs.
ALA Know Your Stimulus - http://www.ala.org/knowyourstimulus
Comprehensive resources for federal stimulus programs for libraries.
BroadbandUSA - http://www.broadbandusa.gov
Application portal for broadband funding under A.R.R.A. (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, 2009)