Recently Kim, Ben, Pam, and I had the pleasure of a guided tour of the Melton Library and Learning Hub provided by the city’s Sustainability Officer, Kellie Hack. The Melton Library and Learning Hub is located at 31 McKenzie St, Melton.
I love libraries. Always have, always will. The books within them help me learn new things about sustainable living, and when I started to green up my lifestyle I used our local library extensively. It saved me so much money!
So I was very interested in visiting our new one because our library has been given a 5 star green star accreditation, which means that it is one of the most environmentally sustainable buildings in Australia! Very cool, and all in my town.
Let me attempt to regurgitate some of the interesting facts that Kellie pointed out to us as we walked around.
The vast wall of glass at the front of the building is all double glazed. This not only keeps the noise as there is a busy road way just out front, but in summer, it keeps the heat outside and in winter it keeps the heat inside.
All outside landscaping is native flora, which means that it doesn’t require much rainfall.
The cafe serves very nice coffee, which I believe was rainforest alliance. All the wood you see is FSC accredited from a local supplier in Victoria, and much of it is recycled. The wood throughout looks fantastic.
The timber from the old library (that they knocked down and replaced with this one) was used during the construction of the concrete formwork. Speaking of disposal, during the demolition of the old library, 92% of the waste materials was recycled.
The library is on two levels, with meeting rooms on both floors, including an 77 seat auditorium with video conferencing facilities.
The ventilation is underfloor, so all of the air moves naturally upwards. There are no high-speed fans required, and the air is purged via upper floor windows at night. Kellie told us that there are CO2 sensors throughout the building that adjust the flow of air so no one gets sleepy in the afternoon. If you do, you had too many carbs for lunch!
All lighting throughout changes with outdoor light levels via sensors fitted to the lighting array. That way, the lights dim if it is bright outside, which in turn lowers electricity usage. The fluros are T5 which are energy-efficient. 60% of the building is lit with natural lighting.
Now if the glare gets too much, there are automated blinds that can be raised and lowered during the day. There is a massive pergola at the front of the building which blocks summer light from shining on the windows, and lets in light during winter.
The concrete, which is normally one of the most energy intensive materials used during construction of a building, is also green. They used 40% less cement during construction, and in a worlds first, the structural concrete panels were made from e-crete™. This brand of concrete has no Portland cement in the mix. Portland cement production is very greenhouse gas intensive, so it is great that these panels have none.
Behind that wooden wall are massive rainwater tanks that collect water from the roof. The rainwater is used to flush toilets and to irrigate the surrounding landscaping.
On the roof are 80 solar panels that provided electricity for the building and there is 130m² of solar hot water panels for the rest rooms and kitchens. Kellie mentioned that there are screens throughout the library that display energy and water statistics from the building sensors, so that the public can see how much electricity is being generated, or water being saved and stored in the tanks. It is a good way to show off the eco features without being to in-your-face.
Now for the internal library type features.
There is a dedicated Mills & Boon escapism romance section for those interested, with matching pink chairs!
There is a gaming area for kids, which I believe have Xbox, Playstation, etc.
There are drinking fountains throughout the building, and no bottled water or vending machines. This was designed this way on purpose.
There are the usual internet facilities, and wi-fi for free. The book collections are extensive. I borrowed five books about blogging which have helped me design my blogging course (happening Wednesday 30th April). Usually there are limited titles that are up to date, but I was pleasantly surprised.
Besides the great books, free internet, lots of meeting rooms etc., another great feature is that this building is centrally located in the middle of town. It is a couple of minutes walk from the bus terminal, there are bike racks out the back, and if you really feel the need to drive, there is limited car parking (design feature to encourage other modes of transport). Ben and I will now be able to ride down here and safely lock our bikes up.
The furniture inside the building has up to 40% recycled content. They were built under strict guidelines to ensure that it was produced with low or no formaldehyde. All the paints, carpets, and furniture are low in volatile organic compounds (VOC). VOC’s are particularly troublesome for people with respiratory conditions such as asthma. The carpet squares are made from recycled material, and when worn are sent back to the manufacturer to be recycled again.
Finally, there are recycle bins out front and back. The paper is separate from the mixed container bin (plastic, glass, and metal). The kitchens also have organic waste bins, the contents are turned into compost.
What do I think of our library and learning hub? I believe that is was $20 million well spent, and is an asset to the city. Not only is it the greenest building in town, it has a warm feeling about it. Some place that you really want to visit and spend a bit of time in.
If you are ever in our city, please drop by and check out the Melton Library and Learning Hub. You will not be disappointed.
To finish off, here is a video that recaps the 5 star features of the building.
So dear reader, do you have any green public buildings in your town or city? What do you think of them? Are they nice places to visit?