Saturday, December 21, 2013

Book Review: The Green Library Planner – What Every Librarian Needs to Know Before Starting To Build or Renovate

Mary M. Carr has written a valuable guide for managers of community resource organizations –particularly libraries – but certainly applicable in many aspects to the work of schools, community centers or museums. 

Carr has the personal experience as a LEED-AP and a library-greening advisor to offer good resources, examples, and perspective.  She opens with a thoughtful series of questions including “How gentle will [your library] be on the environment, both in the way it was built and the way it operates?” and “What sustainable community qualities will it reflect?” 

The topic of environmentally-sustainable building and management practices is far too complex for any book to make a thorough study, but this one is detailed, thoughtful and realistic. The rest can only be filled-in by the integrated team involved in a particular project. The book’s sections cover the basics of sustainability in building, the value of place – physical and social, energy and lighting, materials, indoor qualities, water, construction management, and, since it is focused on build or renovate,  a bit on operations and maintenance.
The definitions in each section are particularly helpful, and the checklists and resource lists are valuable tools for readers planning to implement these ideas. The section on energy and HVAC&R systems is very helpful for those of us who did not receive enough professional training in the climate control systems we depend on so substantially! And her point reminding us to commission new buildings and systems should be heeded by all.

Do not overlook the conclusion and its descriptions of community value and of education opportunities. The Fayetteville (IN) Library example demonstrates green practices by displaying energy production data from its solar array and has a check-out section for kilowatt meters for patrons to use at home to assess energy use by individual appliances.

This brief section is a good lead into a follow-on book for after-you’ve-built it.  All community organizations can stretch to share more of their green practices with the community for everyone’s benefit. Your best next green idea may just come from a guest.

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