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Pitkin County Press Releases

Posted on: June 28, 2018

Energy Performance Soars at Pitkin County Library

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(Aspen, CO) June 28, 2018 — At the turn of the millennium, when leaders at the Pitkin County Library were participating in the civic master planning process and envisioning the future of the library, creating an energy-efficient building was high on their list. Fast forward nearly two decades: the new library renovation, which opened in 2016 with a raft of energy improvements, is making good on that dream. Based on two years of energy performance data, the library has experienced efficiency gains as high as 50%. This is based on a 41% decrease in natural gas consumption and a 23% drop in electricity usage, while the building’s size went up 23% as a result of the 2016 expansion. The annual utility savings earn the Library $27,000 and prevent 286 metric tons of carbon from being released into the atmosphere each year.


“When the accounts were totaled on last year’s energy bills, the Library Board and the County Commissioners were thrilled to see the benefits from all the work that had gone into the project,” said Kathy Chandler, Librarian at Pitkin County Library.


“The energy savings and dollar savings from these efforts are going to be a win for the community for many years. These efforts and results are the kind the community deserves from our public buildings,” said Mona Newton, CORE executive director. 


The energy improvements at the 38,774-square foot facility on Mill Street were supported by two grants from the Community Office for Resource Efficiency (CORE): a $9,927.50 Design Assistance Grant and a $145,000 TRUE Pioneer Grant. CORE’s grant program, which fosters innovative energy technology, renewable energy systems, and energy-efficiency improvements, is funded by the Renewable Energy Mitigation Program of the City of Aspen and Pitkin County.


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The high-efficiency measures which received CORE funding pack a triple-punch: lowering the library’s energy usage, operating costs and carbon footprint. Improvements include:

  • Mechanical system: air-cooled chiller with two constant-variable rooftop air handling units

  • Insulation: improved insulation value of R-30, with two layers of 2.5 ISO board 

  • Daylighting: Kalwall system to replace failing fiberglass skylights, motorized window shades, and high-performance windows

  • Lighting: LED retrofit and controls


In 2017, the Library exceeded the energy modeling for the renovated structure by as much as 175%, cutting electricity usage by 251,000-kilowatt hours and gas usage by 18,720 therms or the calendar year. The carbon offset for these savings is 286 metric lbs of CO2 per year, equivalent to powering 30 homes, or removing 60 cars from the road, for one year.


The improvements are saving the Library approximately $27,000 on utility bills each year. The Library has re-invested the savings in online subscription services — to meet the ever-increasing patron demand for digital streaming content —  and in enhancing physical collections such as Large Print books and Spanish media.


“The ability to provide high quality, popular resources to the entirety of our community is an ongoing goal for the library, one that has become easier to reach with money freed up from previous energy costs,” said Chandler.


In the Library’s desire to create a 21st-century facility, they approached sustainable building holistically. As part of the planning process, they coordinated with roof repairs to the parking garage, avoiding resource-intensive, duplicative work. Library officials elected to stay put in a pre-existing building owned by the public to maximize investment, almost all of which was achieved through private donations. The build team recycled as many of the building materials as possible, including railings, shelving, staff office furniture and geofoam, saved from the old parking garage roof. Radon mitigation to ensure public health was also part of the project.


The energy-efficiency plan was modeled and designed by Iconergy, Snowdon and Hopkins Architects, and M-E Engineers. FCI Constructors built the facility, which was dedicated on June 19, 2016. 


Pitkin County Library began in 1938 as a private subscription library in two rooms of the Wheeler Opera House. The library moved to a new building on Main Street in 1966, before building a permanent home on Mill Street in 1991.

Like the Library, local government agencies, non-profit organizations, schools, and private businesses operating in the Roaring Fork Valley are invited to apply for CORE grants. CORE offers a variety of opportunities, ranging from $2,000-$200,000, with rolling and annual deadlines. The nonprofit organization encourages prospective applicants to discuss project ideas with Grants Manager Marty Treadway prior to submitting an application. He can be reached at marty@aspencore.org.


The mission of the Pitkin County Library is to enrich our community by inspiring lifelong learning and providing access to information and ideas. More at www.pitcolib.org.


CORE is a nonprofit organization that has been helping the Roaring Fork Valley save energy since 1994. More at www.aspencore.org.


  Meda Contacts: 

   Kathy Chandler, Pitkin County,kathy.chandler@pitkincounty.com, 970-429-1910

   Mona Newton, CORE, mona@aspencore.org, 303.523.4113


                                                                                                                                             






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