Appreciating Green Buildings
I??have??been to??my??share of LEED??certified buildings over the past few years, which also includes my own school, CUNY??Law.?? My awe over the features of green buildings has never moved passed aesthetics.?? I might as well have visited a renovated sleek Manhattan apartment featured on Architectural Digest with absolutely no sustainable features.?? The silver LEED certified Howard County Miller Branch Public Library in Ellicott City, Maryland has changed all that and taught me to appreciate the green features of my own school and other LEED certified buildings.?? I was inspired by what I witnessed and the way the green features were presented to me.
Outside the entrance of the library sits the quarter-acre, sustainable, community-based Enchanted Garden.?? The Garden is used to teach health, nutrition, gardening, and the environment and features an abundance of vegetables, herbs and flowers.?? Some of the produce and flowers are sold in the library???s parking lot that was hosting a farmer???s market.?? An interactive dashboard located in the lobby of the library provided a real-time tracker on the library???s energy use and illustrated the impressive energy efficient features of the building.?? Each library story boasts floor-to-ceiling windows that inundate the library with natural daylight.?? The green roof has a dual function of providing a calming effect on those enjoying their reading on the adjacent outside terrace, and providing a natural filtration system for stormwater runoff. ??The solar panels were inaccessible, however the dashboard in the lobby displays pictures of the 72 panels.
A notable difference between this building and other LEED certified buildings is the level of interaction and proximity that one has with the green features.?? The energy use tracker on the dashboard gave me an enlightening experience because I could witness the actual energy use and compare it with the previous day???s use. ??While I was playing with the program, I noticed a major discrepancy with the previous day???s use of water and that day???s use.?? Immediately, questions ran through my head: Was there an event at the library this day??? Was there a leak in the bathroom??? What was the weather like yesterday??? In addition, the Enchanted Garden and the green roof provided me with inspiration to work on my own garden.?? As I sat mere inches from the inviting green roof, it would not have occurred to me that it was also a natural filtration system. ??I believe it was this interaction and accessibility that taught me to finally appreciate the green features of my school and other LEED certified buildings.
For more information on the Howard County Miller Branch Public Library please go to http://www.howa.lib.md.us.