Berkeley Public Library

Civil & Community | Berkeley, California

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West Berkeley Public Library: First Net-Zero Library in California

In 2009, The City of Berkeley adopted their climate action plan with an aggressive goal: reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 33% (below 2000 levels) by 2020 and by 80% by 2050. To reach their target, the city realized they would need every new building to operate at net zero energy. In 2008, a measure was passed by the citizens of Berkeley to update and modernize the city’s four existing branch libraries.

When the Request for Proposals (RFP) for the West Berkeley Public Library was issued in 2009, Harley Ellis Devereaux (HED) was the only entry that proposed a net zero energy facility and thus was selected to design the library; the first net zero energy library in California.

From the onset of the project, all stakeholders (city, community members and HED) intended to create a net zero energy facility that would take a strong civic presence and provide valuable services to an underserved community. 

Design process

HED works in a highly-iterative and collaborative process that requires key design members and stakeholders to remain engaged throughout the lifecycle of a project. The firm initiated a number of public workshops and multiple design workshops held with active community engagement before finalizing the design. Extensive building simulation modeling and research were carried out by in-house HED/Greenworks team members:

  • Site and climate analysis.
  • Plug load, energy usage and available renewable energy generation analysis.
  • Solar insulation studies to determine the optimum roof height for maximum solar gain and minimal solar access encroachment.
  • Computational fluid dynamics studies to study the effectiveness of the wind chimney in drawing fresh air through the building.
  • Thermal comfort verification of staff offices and adult literacy
  • Daylighting studies
Featured image credit: Chris Hunkeler, Flickr Creative Commons

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