Vending Machines

Do you have vending machines in your library? Vending machines run very inefficiently. You can possibly cut your energy cost in half by looking into Vending Miser. Vending Miser is a sensing device that shuts down the cooling function after a set amount of time – especially great for overnight or holidays.  Check out this PDF from Tufts University on the issue.  Many local electric utility companies will actually install this device free of charge or provide rebates so check that out locally.  Otherwise, the cost is about $150-$200, which you will get back in energy savings in about 1-2 years. For pricing and sales visit this Web page.

Washington State University has a great Web page discussing this idea, with links and stats, proving the favorable results the City of Portland has discovered from installing this device in many locations. Seattle also offers some first hand results. Check locally to see if this is happening in your town.

Bike Sharing Programs

Many cities in Europe already have bike sharing programs in place. Some cities (like Paris) offer free bikes funded via advertising and others are paid for with taxpayer money (London). These programs offer many of these sturdy, “granny type” bikes with baskets and many stations installed in former parking spots. Unappealing as they sound, they are more a tool for transportation and curb the idea of stealing.

The US is finally offering this type of program such as the one Washington DC: the SmartBike DC Program. This is a fully automated touch-and-go rental program with 120 bicycles at 10 locations throughout the city center, supported by Clear Channel Outdoor and the District Dept of Transportation. Subscribers will receive a personalized SmartBike DC user card that provides access to any station of the program at any time.

bike station

Maybe your city will offer this type of service soon and the library can be a part of it by supporting the idea and offering a station outside the library building!

Try Planting More Trees

Tress can add great benefits to your library and/or school property. They provide shade which can reduce air conditioning needs by 30% and can save 20 – 50% in energy used for heating (from GreenStrides). They offer a beautiful, welcoming environment which studies have shown can reduce blood pressure and muscle tension for your employees and customers. Trees also contribute benefits such as less runoff and erosion, prevent the transport of sediment and chemicals into streams, and fight global warming by removing carbon dioxide from the air and releasing oxygen.

The Arbor Day Foundation sells Grow Your Own Tree Activity Kits perfect for elementary school age children. Public librarians could consider this activity as a summer program for the community kids to get involved in the library and plant tress in the process. School librarians could think about this idea in collaboration with a science teacher/class.

The Arbor Day Foundation also offers a Gift Tree Program to raise money for a school or community organization. Your school or Friends of the Library could look into this idea for a a “green” fundraising project!

Renting a hybrid

When traveling for work to a conference or meeting out of town, why not consider cutting down on your carbon footprint by taking only public transportation (bus/trains/metro are available in most large cities) or renting a hybrid vehicle to get around town. More and more rental car companies (such as Avis, Budget, etc.)  have hybrid vehicles as rental options. Enterprise/Alamo/National also offer a carbon offset program for $1.25/day that goes toward certified offset projects that work to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. In many large cities, there are options for hybrid taxis and limos as well.  Do a search in google for your city and “hybrid taxi” or “hybrid limo” and many options appear.

Green Roofs

When planning a new library building or upgrading an existing one, could you add a green rooftop?  A green roof is a multi layer roofing system, an extension of the existing roof, with waterproofing, a root-repellent membrane system, a drainage system, and a multitude of plants that grow on top of a building.  Many credits toward LEED Certification (from my previous post) can be earned by building green rooftops.

Green rooftops have been established in Europe for centuries due to both private and public benefits. Private benefits include cost savings (green roofs are estimated to last up to twice as long as conventional roofs AND provide savings on energy heating/cooling costs), sound insulation. (4.7″ layer can reduce sound by 40 decibels), and to provide food production (grow your own food for employees and events).   Public benefits include economic (increase green jobs and products markets), improved air quality (reduce airbourne particulates and increase oxygen), temperature regulation (reducing the urban heat island effect), water (natural storm water retention and filtration), social (aesthetics, health, recreation, and horticulture), and  preservation of habitat & biodiversity (native flora, fauna, and habitat… and education!).

Libraries could offer events, children’s programing, luncheons, evening concerts, meeting space, and relaxing reading spaces on their green rooftop. For urban libraries, this can be especially welcoming.

For more information visit these Web sites:

Green Roofs for Healthy Cities

The Scoupe on Green Roofs

ACRL OnPoint Chat 5/14/08: Green Libraries

(Cross posted on anss-l and tfoe discussion lists)

WHAT: Online, live discussion and place to share ideas about green libraries and campuses.

WHEN: Wednesday, May 14, 2008, 1:00 p.m. (Eastern), 30-45 minutes.

CONVENERS: Mary Carr, Dean Instructional Services, Spokane Community College and Dr. Debra Rowe, President of the US Partnership for a Sustainable Future

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: From a library/librarians’ perspective, how are our library resources when it comes to sustainability? Are we supporting the college’s curricular efforts? What about the “greening” of the library and the campus? Can we practice sustainability? Can we promote it by speakers, presentations, etc.? What can we do within our library associations, and other professional groups? The whats, whys and wherefores of sustainability? What is happening on our campuses and in our communities regarding sustainability? How can we support what is happening and how can we contribute to moving the needle?


IMPT NOTES: ACRL OnPoint chats are free and open to the public.  Sessions are unmoderated, 30 to 45 minutes long, and take place in a Meebo chat room. While no registration is necessary to participate, ACRL recommends creating a quick and easy Meebo account for the best experience while participating in ACRL OnPoint discussions. Full details are available on the ACRL Web site at

LEED Certification for Green Building

Are you building or remolding your library? Check out Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System. It’s a “third party certification program and the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings.” (LEED Rating System Info) LEED looks at 5 areas: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.

For new construction check out LEED for New Construction. There are 4 levels: certified, silver, gold, platinum (levels are according to how many points you are awarded for meeting criteria in design, operations, construction and management). There is also specific LEED Certification for K-12 school (which can included higher ed)

Why LEED? There are environmental and financial benefits to getting certified green building (from LEED certification site):

  • Lower operating costs and increased asset value.
  • Reduce waste sent to landfills.
  • Conserve energy and water.
  • Healthier and safer for occupants.
  • Reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Qualify for tax rebates, zoning allowances and other incentives in hundreds of cities.
  • Demonstrate an owner’s commitment to environmental stewardship and social responsibility.

Read this article/study which shows LEED Buildings Outperform Peers for more info. The US Green Building Council Web site also provides many resources, details, templates, guides, and tools that would be a great help when considering LEED certification.

You also don’t have to be constructing a new building to go green. Here is an article on how to take existing buildings and transform them into LEED for Existing Buildings Certification (for Operations and Maintenance).