Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Have you ever had trouble finding a place to study, let alone sit in North Carolina State University’s D. H. Hill Library? Well, the brand new James B. Hunt Jr. Library on Centennial campus doubles NC State’s study seating capacity and, the best part: it’s GREEN! It has been designed for a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver Environmental rating and is expected to be the fourth LEED-certified building on NC State’s campus!
Before the opening of the Hunt Library, NC State could seat less than 5% of its students, but this building offers 1,700 new seats and almost 100 group study rooms! Providing technology-enabled furniture, high-definition video walls, a 3D computing and visualization space, and videoconferencing and telepresence facilities, the Hunt Library utilizes technology to encourage innovation and learning. The building goes above and beyond in representing NC State’s strength in technology and design.
The Hunt Library’s efficient and complex design reduces energy consumption by 31%, downsizing costs and improving ecological conditions. A main contributor of this reduction is the bookBot, which efficiently stores and retrieves books. This incredible design eliminates the need for aisle space and reduces the building’s square footage by 40%! Ceiling-mounted occupancy sensors automatically control the efficient lighting throughout the building as well as room temperature in the study rooms and offices, putting a halt to energy consumption when areas are not in use. Additionally, twelve solar thermal panels on the roof of the building utilize the sun to naturally produce hot water for the entire building! Vast expanses of glass windows also take advantage of the natural sunlight to light many rooms throughout the day. However, the combination of vertical and horizontal solar blades that contributes to the unique exterior of the building block out unwanted sunlight that causes uncomfortable heat and glare. And you thought the awesome exterior was just for looks!
For those that love that fresh outdoor air, you will be remarkably comfortable due to the air ventilation system sized to deliver 30% more outside air than required by code! The air quality throughout the building is further enhanced through the use of Low-VOC paints and coatings used on drywall and wood finishes, as well as low-VOC adhesives and sealants in the carpets to reduce harmful off-gassing.
The strong sustainable design of the Hunt Library extends beyond its interior and works to enhance its scenic surrounding environment. The Centennial Oval leading up to the building, the terrace overlooking Lake Raleigh, and the exterior design of the building all act to integrate and appreciate the surrounding environment. The natural hydrology of Lake Raleigh and Walnut Creek is preserved by incorporating the rain garden and vegetated green roof, which act to reduce harmful runoff and remove sedimentation and contaminants before reaching the waterways. The green roof also helps cool the building, reducing energy use in the summer time. Water-efficient landscaping throughout the site reduces the need for irrigation and conserves water. Drinking water is also conserved through the installation of infrastructure for future connection to municipal reclaimed wastewater to be used for all toilets and urinals. Water-efficient or ultra-low-flow plumbing fixtures in bathrooms currently contribute to a 38% reduction in water use.
Even the materials used to construct the library were sourced to have minimal impact on the environment! One-third of all materials used to construct and finish the library were both extracted and manufactured within 500 miles of the site. In addition, 82% of all wood products used inside the building have been sustainably harvested and certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. The library’s environmental impact is also reduced by using 31% recycled content, including steel, carpet, bathroom countertops and aluminum window mullions. Recycling is made convenient and accessible for students, faculty, and staff by placing bins for metal, plastic, glass, paper, cardboard, and electronics throughout the library to reduce operational waste, extending the life of our prized natural resources!
For bicycle and Wolfline commuters, accessing the Hunt Library will be as convenient as ever! Public transportation and bicycle commuting are encouraged through the buildings setup through bus stops and bike racks surrounding the building. Showers and changing areas are also provided in the building to promote physical activity. Light-colored paths and trees around the building also contribute to reducing the heat island effect, keeping the surrounding environment cool and comfortable for commuters!
Are you interested in learning more about the Hunt Library’s sustainable design? Click here to request a tour, or here to learn more! Get your smart phones ready because an application is being designed for visitors who would like a self-guided tour! Digital displays in the building and the NCSU Libraries website provide facts about green building strategies and the Hunt Library’s achievements. Education about green building is part of the design and function of the building. It is essential to educate the community about the Hunt Library’s sustainable technology and design and to recognize it for its influential green building design as a successful example of balancing social, economic, and ecological aspects. By allowing visitors, students, staff and faculty to become aware about the benefits of green building, the vision of living and working in a healthier, safer, more efficient building comes closer to reality.
(All photos courtesy of the Hunt Library's webpage.)