Construction Begins on the new ‘deep green’ West Branch Library

June 05, 2012

Contact: Donna Corbeil
Director of
Library Services

Concluding an extensive planning and design process, the Berkeley City Council approved a contract for the construction of a new West Branch Library on May 15, 2012 with West Bay Builders, Inc. The Branch closed on May 7th, in order to move out the staff and existing collections. Construction of the new state-of-the-art library is expected to begin in June and take approximately 12 months, with re-opening slated for the end of summer 2013. The new library, located at 1125 University Avenue will be built following the demolition of the current facility. The replacement Library, designed by Harley Ellis Devereaux with Greenworks Studio will meet all current codes, and at 9,300 square feet has adequate space to accommodate all library and adult literacy programs. Features include a quiet study room, teen room, program room that can be used for multiple purposes throughout the day, increased computer access, improved access to collections and comfortable seating for adults and children, to create an oasis for learning and reading as envisioned by the community during the planning process. The new West Branch Library is expected to be the greenest of the four branch library improvement projects. It will embody the latest in building sustainability and green building techniques. A project goal is to attain at minimum LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold Certification. Some of the features include site improvements that meet Bay Friendly Landscaping guidelines such as the use of native plants and planters that divert runoff water through an infiltration system. To facilitate increased pedestrian and alternative means of transportation additional bike racks and public exterior seating are planned. The most significant new aspect for this public building is the primary design objective to achieve Zero Net Energy (ZNE) performance. Concepts of this approach applied to the project included making extensive use of natural daylighting, system-controlled natural ventilation for fresh air and cooling, zoned radiant floor heating with hot water from solar panels and a solar photovoltaic system for electric power. The building also makes extensive use of energy-efficient LED lighting and special control features to help reduce secondary electrical loads from computers and other equipment. The project benefited from early collaboration between the City’s Office of Energy and Sustainable Development, Harley Ellis Devereaux and representatives of the Savings By Design Program at Pacific Gas & Electric Company.  “The SBD Program eagerly approached this opportunity to collaborate with the City of Berkeley and Harley Ellis Devereaux Architects in designing this exceptional project to inform, understand and prove concepts that can be used in Zero Net Energy projects.”, according to PG&E’s Savings By Design Product Manager, David Vasnaik. This included early and ongoing building energy performance analysis and inclusion of an on-site renewable energy supply in the final design. As a ZNE building, the new library will consume no more energy than it produces from its solar panels each year. The partnership and SBD grant in the amount of $44,745 from PG&E’s innovative program made this integrated approach to design possible. The resulting library will not only meet national standards for sustainability but contributes to goals in the City of Berkeley’s Climate Action Plan, adopted by City Council in 2009. The project is one of four funded by Measure FF, $26 million in general obligation bonds, approved by Berkeley voters in November 2008. The overall project budget is $7.5 Million ($6 Million hard cost construction budget). The Library will continue to post project information and updates on its website at: and hopes to see you at the West Branch Library grand re-opening, anticipated for 2013. We look forward to bringing you a beautiful, current code compliant, seismically safe, fully accessible green building in the near future. The branch library improvement program is funded by Measure FF, passed by voters in November 2008. For more information call 510-981-6195.