New library goes green

With a footprint of more than 350,000 square feet, the Henry Madden Library is the largest library in the California State University system. Yet, it is the library’s green team that is making sure its carbon footprint is one of the smallest in the California State University system.

Made up of library staff members and campus faculty and staff, the green team is looking to develop sustainable practices for library operations that can then be used in campus buildings and departments in the future.

“Libraries are at the forefront of how you promote sustainability,” green team member and Dean of Library Services Peter McDonald said. “Especially as service organizations and as organizations with extensive information at our fingertips.”

Planning ahead

This green thinking didn’t begin when the library opened its doors two weeks ago. Initial plans made sure that the design and construction upheld sustainable practices.

This includes the use of the compact shelving units, which minimize the overall footprint of the building.

The north side of the library is completely made of glass, which allows for year-round natural lighting. Also, following demolition, the old building’s materials were recycled.

Sustaining sustainability

With the design and construction phases in the past, the green team is looking to the future of the library, which starts with them.

One of the major goals of the green team is to implement sustainable office operations.

“This has to do with consciousness in behavior,” McDonald said. “It’s also just using technology better.”

For example, staff are encouraged to turn off the light when they’re not in a room. To help with that there are motion sensor-activated lights in most areas of the library, including study areas.

Staff are also encouraged not to print documents that could be sent in an email or kept in an electronic format.

“If they say they want to develop systems around using less paper in total, then I can help with that,” green team member and Fresno State Sustainability Coordinator Matt Harmin said.

“It’s really easy to do. You just need to make arrangements to do that or people will fall back into their old habits.”

One way Harmin has made arrangements to encourage recycling among library staff and library patrons is through the placement of recycling bins in workspaces throughout the library.

A place for discourse

Another goal for the green team and the library as a whole is to provide environmental and sustainable information to both the university community and the local community.

This starts with the library’s growing collection of over one million volumes.

“We need to make a conscious effort to build a collection that provides strong research materials that speak to climate change,” McDonald said.

In addition to books and articles, there are plans to create lectures and exhibits that highlight environmental concerns — both those in support and in opposition.

The first exhibit in November will be a partnership between the library, the San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust and the science and math departments.

Student groups are also invited partner with the green team and create presentations for the library.

Thanks to these efforts, the library will maintain the objectives of the Talloires Declaration that University President John D. Welty signed in 2007.

The ten-point action plan is the first official statement made by university administrators of a commitment to environmental sustainability in higher education through teaching, research, operations and outreach.

Fresno State is one of 350 universities committed to the Talloires Declaration.

“We want to set in place meaningful procedures and policies,” McDonald said. “It’ll begin in the library, but it then becomes a model that can be tweaked and used in the future.”

A few green features:

Designed for the site

•One of the largest collections of moveable stacks in the country minimizes the overall footprint of the library.

•The glass north wall keeps solar gain down in the summer while allowing for year-round natural lighting.


•Native species garden requires no irrigation and helps to manage storm water.

•Peace Garden irrigation system maximizes efficient water use.

Energy-conserving lighting systems

•Extensive use of day lighting in lieu of task lighting keeps most areas well lit at a low cost.

•Motion sensor-activated lights in most areas.

•Ubiquitous compact fluorescents.

Climate control

•The highest standards of energy-efficient insulation were used.

•Centralized HVAC controls air handling across the building.

•Thermal comfort is managed using fresh outdoor air rather than condition air when appropriate.

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