Santa Monica’s new Main Library has been awarded the city’s first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold rating. Opened in January 2006 at 601 Santa Monica Boulevard, the library is the third LEED-certified facility constructed by the city, the Public Safety Facility (police and fire headquarters) and Virginia Avenue Park having earned LEED Silver in 2004 and 2006, respectively.
LEED ratings for “green buildings” (which ratings can be platinum, gold, silver or certified, in descending order) are awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), a national coalition working to promote environmentally responsible, healthy places to live and work.
“Opened to much community acclaim and drawing nearly 800,000 visitors in its first year of operation, the 104,000 square foot, state-of-the-art Main Library is a model of a user-friendly, service-oriented and flexible facility for the 21st century,” said Susan Annett, Principal Librarian – Public Services. “It contains the latest in information technology, Wi-Fi access, three levels of subterranean parking and amenities such as public art, a bookstore and a café. An open and naturally lighted interior environment takes advantage of the ideal Santa Monica climate. Gardens and a 10,000-square-foot central courtyard are landscaped with sustainable plantings.”
The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System™ is described by USGBC as “the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings. LEED gives building owners and operators the tools they need to have an immediate and measurable impact on their buildings’ performance. LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.”
Projects rated by USGBC accumulate points, starting with design, through construction and ending with planned operation and maintenance, by satisfying detailed requirements that lead to a healthier environment for the building occupants, the neighborhood, the larger community and the general environment.
Among the notable sustainable features of the Main Library are a 200,000-gallon cistern constructed underneath the building to capture rainwater used to irrigate the landscaped areas; the specially treated roof that reflects sunlight, reducing the “heat islands” that contribute to smog; and rooftop solar electric panels that generate renewable energy for the building. Sustainability is integral not only to the design and function of the facility, but also through an ongoing series offered by Library and Environmental Programs staff. “Sustainable Communities Through Sustainable Living” features programs on green building, water conservation, sustainable landscaping and the eco-footprint.
“The LEED Rating System,” says USGBC, “was created to transform the built environment to sustainability by providing the building industry with consistent, credible standards for what constitutes a green building. The rating system is developed and continuously refined via an open, consensus-based process that has made LEED the green building standard of choice for Federal agencies and state and local governments nationwide.”
The project team for the Main Library included the architectural firm Moore, Ruble, Yudell; consulting mechanical engineer Syska Hennesy; general contractor Morley Builders; LEED consultant CTG Energetics, Inc.; with project/construction management provided by the City of Santa Monica Environmental & Public Works Management Department, Civil Engineering and Architecture Division.
More information on the LEED Gold rating achievement of the Santa Monica Main Library can be obtained from the City of Santa Monica Environmental and Public Works Management Department, Civil Engineering and Architecture Division at 310.458.8721 or at www.smpl.org/sustainability/ or smgov.net/engineering/index.asp.