Berkeley Public Library’s West Branch is First Zero Net Energy Library™ in California

February 17, 2015

Contact: Jeff Scott
Director Library Services
Berkeley Public Library

Berkeley Public Library’s
West Branch is First Zero Net Energy Library™ in California

Berkeley, February 17, 2015 — In its first year of operation Berkeley Public Library’s West Branch produced more energy than it used– leading to official certification as the first “net zero” library in the state and only the third municipal building of its kind in the nation. The International Living Future Institute (ILFI) is in the final stages of certification for West Branch and plans to present the West Berkeley Zero Net project during their National Conference this April in Seattle.

“Libraries embody a community’s values,” said Jeff Scott, the Director of Library Services. “It’s fitting that the Berkeley Public Library’s West Berkeley branch brings together City values of education and sustainability. This is an amazing accomplishment by Berkeley voters, library patrons, a dedicated group of Berkeley Public Library staff and our local design firms and contractors.”

In November 2008, Berkeley voters also overwhelmingly passed Measure FF, a $26 million bond dedicated for construction at City libraries. Energy efficiency played a critical role in each redesign, which also led to the creation of larger, seismic safer and more innovative libraries for users. To date, three Berkeley Public Library Branches have been awarded LEED Certification: South Branch is Gold, Claremont and North Branch are Silver. Library and City leaders hope to get Platinum Certification – the highest LEED certification – for the West Berkeley Branch.

West Branch Library is performing beyond our expectations,” said Neal DeSnoo, the Energy Program Officer for the City of Berkeley. The building embodies a confluence of citizen interests: the city’s library system and climate action. In 2006, the City’s Climate Action Plan was approved by more than 82 percent of Berkeley voters. It set a goal of reducing local greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050. A key component is reducing the impact of residential and commercial buildings by using renewable resources and increasing energy efficiency.

Large windows and long skylights result in less need for artificial light during the day. Ventilation uses the wind to cool the building on hot days. Radiant piping under the floor circulates hot water during cold months and cool water during warmer months. Over the past year, the 9,300-square-foot West Branch Library’s solar panels produced 7,027 kWh of electricity more than it needed, a finding verified by the nonprofit New Building Institute. This is enough to power two average-sized Berkeley homes for a year.