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Green Library

1. Introduction: A green library or sustainable library is designed to minimize negative impact on the natural environment and maximize indoor environmental quality by means of careful site selection, use of natural construction materials and biodegradable products, conservation of resources like water, energy, paper and responsible waste disposal or recycling of material. Green design is an integrated process that starts from the site selection and end with the demolition.
Many view the library as having a unique role in the green building movement due to its altruistic mission, public and pedagogical nature and the fact that new libraries are usually high profile, community driven projects. Altruism is the principle and moral practice of concern for happiness of other human beings or animals, resulting in a quality of life both material and spiritual.
A similar concept is natural building, which is usually on a smaller scale and tends to focus on the use of natural materials that are available locally.
The Rachel Carson book, Silent Spring, published in 1962, is considered to be one of the first initial efforts to describe sustainable development as related to green building.

2. Importance of Green Libraries: Because of the long-term nature of the library, green design is potentially less expensive than standard design, as heavy up-front costs often pay for themselves, waste is reduced, efficiency is increased, and energy and water are conserved. Evolving libraries of the 21st century are integrating sustainable practices because it is becoming the most cost-effective way to do things.
a) To Keep the Good Faith: Buildings produce about 40% of the dangerous greenhouse gasses emitted into the atmosphere. An institution can no longer in good faith aim to improve the human condition while contributing to the destruction of the future. Therefore, libraries have been expanding the scope of their mission statements to include working for the betterment of humankind. Libraries have a responsibility to not contribute to the destruction of the environment, to educate the people regarding our current situation and empower them to make a difference.
Libraries are discovering that their green building gives them a great opportunity to educate the citizenry.
b) To Build a Good Image: The library is undergoing an identity transformation. It is struggling to stay relevant and the green library is great for the image of the library. Firstly, a sustainable building makes a statement that the library is investing in the future of the community. Secondly, sustainable buildings are smartly designed, aesthetically pleasing, and are powered by state-of-the-art technology. When people see these emerald marvels they will no longer be able to maintain false stereotypes regarding libraries as anachronistic relics from an analog age. Thirdly, more and more people take environmentalism seriously, so a green image is a good image. The public awareness on this issue is only going to increase. Libraries want the public to believe that they are still relevant, and that their mission is to better humankind. Many have decided that a green library is a physical manifestation of their mission statement, and it provides an image of how libraries want to be seen in the 21st century.
c) To Become Independent: As publicly funded institutions, libraries are constantly battling with budget issues. Sustainability offers the library a degree of independence, because cost of maintenance goes down and also the reliance on the volatile fossil fuels market. Sustainable design offers libraries a way to reduce maintenance and energy costs, providing them with a degree of independence. One of the most important features of green design is a shift from the reliance on depleting fossil fuels to renewable energy resources. The independence from fossil fuels will save the library large sums of money, and it will relish its independence if prices continue to rise.
Money will also be saved by having higher morale, health, and productivity from employees. The architectural firm Heschong Mahone conducted a study that indicated students perform 25% better on standardized tests when in classrooms lit naturally. High levels of CO2 can decreases performance as well. Savings can also be increased, because there are governmental incentives to capitalize on, and some utility companies offer incentives too.

3. Features of Green Library: Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) uses five different categories to judge a building’s sustainability; a) site location, b) water conservation, c) energy efficiency, d) building materials, e) indoor air quality, and a bonus category for innovation and design.
a) Site Location: The selection of the site has a large impact on how ecologically friendly the library will be. People should be able to reach the building via public transportation and the parking lots should give priority parking to those driving energy efficient automobiles. The heat island effect can be reduced by shading hard surfaces, putting them underground.
b) Water Conservation: If a site is selected properly strategies can be used to capture rainwater runoff to be used in irrigation. Another strategy is to use low flow fixtures, and waterless urinals to reduce the dependency on water.
c) Energy Efficient: Energy efficiency is considered by many to be the most important category in becoming sustainable. In the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system it is the heaviest weighted of all the categories. Building designers try to maximize the use of natural and renewable resources like wind, sunlight instead of pure dependent on electricity to manage the temperature and to provide ventilation and light that forms the passive strategy. Active strategies are more technologically advanced solutions that include using various forms of renewable energy resources and using sensors to adjust lighting. Using photovoltaic cells that turn sunlight into energy is becoming an increasingly popular way to reduce energy dependence. Pair daylight with artificial lighting to reduce energy costs can also be implemented in green libraries.
d) Building Material: It includes local resources, material conservation and waste reduction. The primary responsibility in selecting materials for the library is to contribute as little waste as possible that will filled the landfill space as construction waste material later on and this call for purchasing material to be made from recycled goods like post-industrial and post-consumer recycled materials. Also, materials should be chosen that are going to be able to be reused or recycled 50–100 years down the road when the library building has reached the end of its useful life. Another responsibility is to choose materials that can be produced without causing too much damage to the natural environment i.e. natural construction material. Renewable materials like wood, linoleum, bamboo, and cork can be used as building material. Another material option is using quickly renewable materials such as bamboo in place of wood whenever possible or other biodegradable product as building material.
e) Indoor Air Quality: Maintaining high standards of indoor air quality to help ensure the health of the people who inhabit the building. Green buildings need to be designed in a way in which the air gets recycled and does not stay stagnant. To improve air quality, materials can be bought that have a low Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) content and CO2 monitors can be installed to ensure that CO2 levels remain at a safe level.
f) Innovation and Design: Its intent is to provide design teams and projects the opportunity to achieve exceptional performance above the requirements set by the LEED Green Building Rating System and/or innovative performance in green building categories not specifically addressed by the LEED Green Building Rating System.
            In general the green library may include use of empty area for the building; during construction, any trees removed need to be harvested and used for furniture or need to be donated for a good cause. The site needs to be accessible by public transportation, water collected on the roof can be reused for landscape irrigation, use of natural sun light, use of sensors programmed to dim or brighten the lights, using the construction material which are local in nature, recycled or reuse of demolition and construction waste, use of flood or drought resistant and or native green roofing or vegetative roof or alternative roofing, raised floor, use of recycled content in the carpet, use of acoustical ceiling tiles of recycled content, integrating actual greenery and vegetation into the side of building wall and site design, minimizing the negative impact the building will have on the local environment and if possible having a positive impact, responsible waste disposal and so on.

4) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED):  Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a green building certification and rating system developed and administered by the non-profit U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) which is used worldwide. It includes a set of rating systems for the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of green buildings aims to help building owners and operators be environmentally responsible and use resources efficiently.
To participate in LEED 2009, a building must comply with environmental laws and regulations, occupancy scenarios, building permanence and pre-rating completion, site boundaries and area-to-site ratios. Its owner must share data on the building’s energy and water use for five years after occupancy (for new construction) or date of certification (for existing buildings).
The weighting process has three steps: A collection of reference buildings are used to estimate the environmental impacts of any building seeking LEED certification in a designated rating scheme. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) weightings are used to judge the relative importance of these impacts in each category. Data regarding actual impacts on environmental and human health are used to assign points to individual categories and measures.
This system results in a weighted average for each rating scheme based upon actual impacts and the relative importance of those impacts to human health and environmental quality.
LEED uses five different categories to judge a building’s sustainability; a) site location, b) water conservation, c) energy efficiency, d) building materials, e) indoor air quality, and a bonus category for innovation and design. Their point based rating has a total of 100 base points possible, and buildings can qualify for four levels of certification: Certified: 40-49 points; Silver: 50-59 points; Gold: 60-79 points; Platinum: 80 points and above. LEED certification is granted by the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI), which handles the third-party verification of a project’s compliance with the LEED requirements. LEED certified buildings are intended to use resources more efficiently when compared to conventional buildings simply built to code.

5) Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies (EDGE): The International Finance Corporation (IFC) is an international financial institution that offers investment, advisory, and asset-management services to encourage private-sector development in less developed countries. The IFC is a member of the World Bank Group and is headquartered in Washington, D.C. in the United States. It was established in 1956, as the private-sector arm of the World Bank Group, to advance economic development by investing in for-profit and commercial projects for poverty reduction and promoting development.
The IFC has created a mass-market certification system for fast growing emerging markets called Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies (EDGE). IFC and the World Green Building Council have partnered to accelerate green building growth in less developed counties. The target is to scale up green buildings over a seven-year period until 20% of the property market is saturated. Certification occurs when the EDGE standard is met, which requires 20% less energy, water, and materials than conventional homes.
The IFC and the Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Associations of India (CREDAI), apex body of private real estate developers in India have partnered to promote green buildings in India through IFC’s EDGE certification.

6) British Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM): Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) first published by the Building Research Establishment (BRE) in 1990. It is the world’s longest established method of assessing, rating, and certifying the sustainability of buildings and large-scale developments. BREEAM is an assessment undertaken by independent licensed assessors using scientifically-based sustainability metrics and indices which cover a range of environmental issues. Its categories evaluate energy and water use, health and wellbeing, pollution, transport, materials, waste, ecology and management processes. Buildings are rated and certified on a scale of Pass, Good, Very Good, Excellent and Outstanding.

7) The Indian Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE): BEE launched the Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC), a set for energy efficiency standards for design and construction with any building of minimum conditioned area of 1,000 m2 and a connected demand of power of 500 KW or 600 KVA. The energy performance index of the code is set from 90 kW·h/sqm/year to 200 kW·h/sqm/year where any buildings that fall under the index can be termed as ECBC Compliant Building. Moreover, the BEE launched a five-star rating scheme for office buildings operated only in the day time in three climatic zones, composite, hot & dry, warm & humid on 25 February 2009. The CII Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre is a BEE 5 star-rated building.

8) Indian Green Building Council (IGBC): The Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) was formed by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in 2001. The council is based out of the CII Green Business Centre, Hyderabad which is India’s 1st Platinum rated green building. The vision of the council is to enable sustainable built environment for all. IGBC is the India’s premier body for green building certification and allied services. IGBC rated green buildings are also able to meet or exceed the ECBC compliance.

9) Examples of Green Building: The following are some of the examples of green building that achieved the platinum – the highest certification from LEED.
a) Council Tree Library, Fort Collins, Co: Council Tree Library, Fort Collins, Co is the first LEED commercial interior library in the U.S. to receive platinum status and the second library in the nation to receive platinum, in all LEED programs.  The Library’s comprehensive green cleaning plan won a LEED innovation credit. Construction and building achievements include: 55% water savings; 92% construction waste recycled; 85% certified sustainable wood products; and 97% Energy Star equipment. Received LEED Platinum certification.

b) Lake View Terrace Library, CA: In Lake View Terrace, CA over 75% of construction was diverted from landfills to local recycling facilities. The building is made out of high-mass Concrete Masonry Units (CMU).  Building features include low-flow automatic faucets, window glass with double glazing, automatic motorized windows that let out warm air and bring in cool air, and bamboo wood flooring.  Energy performance is over 40% more efficient than California standards.  The Library was chosen as an American Institute of Architects Top Ten Green Project for 2004.  Received LEED Platinum certification.

10. Problems in Implementing Green Library: The biggest challenge in libraries is balancing the conflicting needs of the patrons and the materials and it can be looked into from the following points of view
a) Challenge in Maintaining Sunlight: In order to be preserved, books must be kept away from extreme temperatures, moisture, and sunlight. In contrast, many individuals find sunlight to be the most enjoyable light for reading. Sunlight also plays a major role in green design because it can be used to reduce the reliance on artificial lighting.
New developments in glass technology have given designers more flexibility in their ability to place collections protected from damaging ultra-violet rays of the sun.
b) Challenge in Managing Weight: A common strategy in green design is to raise the floors to increase circulation, but the weight of the book stacks can be an impediment to this strategy.
To deal with this challenge, many designers have resorted to zoning the library into designated areas, so these strategies can be enacted in certain areas, and alternatives can be used in others.
c) Maintaining Flexibility: Library buildings are long term investments into the community, so when designing those architects need to be looking 50 or 100 years into the future. To justify it, libraries need to be built flexibly, in order to make room for expansions in size and in wiring capabilities.

11. Conclusion: Green building (also known as green construction or sustainable building) refers to both a structure and the application of processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s life-cycle: from planning to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and demolition. This requires close cooperation of the contractor, the architects, the engineers and the client at all project stages. The Green Building practice expands and complements the classical building design concerns of economy, utility, durability, and comfort. Green libraries combine the needs of a library, sustainable design, and real cost savings in energy consumption. The main goal of green buildings is to develop and use sustainable energy-efficient resources in construction, maintenance, and overall life of the structure.

How to Cite this Article?
APA Citation, 7th Ed.:  Barman, B. (2020). A comprehensive book on Library and Information Science. New Publications.
Chicago 16th Ed.:  Barman, Badan. A Comprehensive Book on Library and Information Science. Guwahati: New Publications, 2020.
MLA Citation 8th Ed:  Barman, Badan. A Comprehensive Book on Library and Information Science. New Publications, 2020.

Badan BarmanBadan Barman at present working as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Library and Information Science, Gauhati University, Guwahati-781014, Assam, India. He is the creator of the LIS Links ( - India’s most popular social networking website for Library and Information Science professionals. He also created the UGC NET Guide ( and LIS Study ( website.

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