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Energy Efficiency for Libraries in 2020

Libraries are part of a healthy community.

Libraries are the hearts of our communities. More than just places to check out books, these hubs are homes to remarkable works of literature, places of gathering, quiet spots to study and learn or work. People come to learn about new ideas, or search for careers, some may even seek respite from the temperatures outside in the summer or winter months. These buildings create homes away from home and are the cornerstones of a healthy community.

The modernization of libraries

Libraries used to be more remote places, but now it’s known that about 25-40% of the population who do not regularly visit libraries, would do so, if they were encouraged. This means libraries are needing to come up with more relevant programming and increase their budgets to market to these consumers to make them aware of these offerings. Marketing costs more money. The production of better websites, newsletters, managing social media, and public relations all add to the costs of running a modern library to meet today’s needs.

Libraries are heavy energy users.

Libraries keep long hours. In some cases, many university libraries can operate 24 hours a day to accommodate students needing to study. Library buildings are large, but new libraries are being built larger than ever to accommodate more functionality like adding community gathering spaces, gaming areas, more tech and added volumes of publications. Between the long hours and the large square footage demands, energy use must be taken into consideration. 

Lighting is of obvious importance for reading, but inefficient, outdated lighting can mean higher operational costs. Libraries can lower energy costs by retrofitting older lighting to LED, making spaces brighter, and more comfortable for staff and patrons. New products like, Philips Evokits offer cleaner, brighter lights and added sensors harvest available sunlight through windows to adjust light outputs, which saves even more costs.  In addition to saving costs on energy, the longevity of LEDs means less labor costs for replacing ballasts and bulbs, and less interruption to the day. 

Lowering operational costs

When it comes to carving up the budget, energy efficiency is an area where payback is quick.

With the local utilities promoting lowering kWhs with incentives for libraries through their small public facilities and standard public facilities program, investing in better lighting is a good place to start. Approx 17% of the libraries operational costs come from lighting, and with the incentives over .50 per kWh reduced, cost reduction is within quick reach.

HVAC systems are also a huge source of energy usage, with lots of opportunities for improvement in most public libraries.  Verde encourages our clients to install CEE Tier 2 energy efficiency equipment, which is the top 25% efficient equipment on the marketplace.  If you go about your normal procurement process, you likely will purchase less efficient equipment than Tier 2.  

In addition, we encourage libraries to take advantage of demand control ventilation in their new equipment.  In addition to using an economizer to bring in free cooling on days that is available, demand control ventilation uses a CO2 sensor to only bring in outside fresh air when it is called for. Without this approach, your building likely brings in 15% to 20% fresh air based on your local code, which can really waste energy on extremely hot and cold days.

Case Study: Alsip Merrionette Library

Alsip-Merrionette Park Library has been taking advantage of the benefits of retrofitting to LEDs with lower costs, and headaches. With a savings estimate of over $9,000 per year in energy, the library also enjoys less dark spots, a safer, brighter parking lot and less distracting buzzing ballasts over head. Ken Jankowski, who leads the charge in library maintenance, used to spend hours replacing burnt out bulbs per week. Now Ken spends less time changing lights, and has more time to get the library ready for a day of business each morning. Watch how Alsip-Merrionette Park Library worked with Verde Energy Efficiency Experts to lower their energy and create a brighter space.

Sustainability is a Library Core Value

Beyond day to day operations, libraries see sustainability as the healthy and right thing to do for the community. Protectors of books, and the earth, libraries have been met with political and socio-economic challenges past and present and no longer feel that they can be passive in the fight to protect our world. In order for libraries to continue to exist, they must be stewards of sustainability. In 2015, the ALA made a stand and passed a resolution on the importance of sustainability for libraries, noting that libraries play an integral part of resilience in terms of climate change and creating a sustainable future for the community and that this should be kept in mind when making decisions on every aspect, from facilities to programing.  

Libraries are Blue Chip Clients

We seek to work with clients that culturally align with our own core values. Verde Energy Efficiency is more than a lighting distributor. We’re more than a lighting contractor, we’re more than a for profit business. Verde is an L3C meaning that we are a low profit, limited liability company with its revenue earnings directly tied to solving a social problem. Verde works only within the Chicagoland area, serving communities we ourselves live in. These libraries are our libraries and we understand their importance of being here for years to come. Over the last year, Verde worked with Carver Peterson, a sales consultant group in the business of helping organizations grow, to identify clients that were our “blue chips”. Blue chips were identified after careful analysis of our current and future objectives. Through that work, libraries were noted as being one of the top aligned verticals for us to work in.  Verde works hard to keep our money here in our communities, sourcing as much of our products made in IL as possible, and working with slim margins with the mission to reduce energy here in our home state of Illinois.

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Verde Energy Efficiency Expert 5328 N Northwest Highway
Chicago, IL 60630

T (773) 413-9587