Richard Byrd Library Achieves LEED Gold Certification

 Nov. 15, 2010

Richard Byrd Library recently received certification as a green building, attaining a LEED Gold® rating from the U.S. Green Building Council®. This makes the library one of only two in the state to achieve a gold certification.  

The building garnered this certification because it incorporates many green features and design innovations, including energy efficiency, water conservation, and recycled materials. Besides benefiting the environment, these green features also save money for taxpayers — more than an estimated $15,000 per year.

Compared to a traditionally built library branch, Richard Byrd Library cuts energy bills by 35 percent, producing a savings of about $15,000 per year.

These savings are achieved in part by maximizing natural light in the building. Natural light reaches more than 90 percent of occupied spaces in the building, and sensors automatically turn light off in unoccupied rooms.

Natural light helps curtail electric and cooling costs because artificial lights consume energy and generate heat. Artificial lighting accounts for as much as 40-50 percent of the energy consumption in many commercial and institutional buildings, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

To reduce cooling costs, the roof reflects sunlight in the summer, but in the winter, the roof directs more sunlight into the building, helping to warm it naturally. Sensors also adjust air-conditioning levels in larger rooms based on their occupancy.

The building was constructed with water conservation in mind as well. The library cuts water consumption by more than 51 percent compared to a conventionally designed library of the same size. This is accomplished by using dual-flush toilets and other efficient plumbing fixtures.

Green or recycled materials were used in the construction and interior finishes, and more than 25 percent of construction materials, such as the structural steel, were made with recycled content. The bathroom counter tops are made from recycled plastic, including Tide detergent bottles. More than 53 percent of the construction materials came from suppliers within 500 miles of the library to reduce the energy used for transport.

Richard Byrd is the third library in Fairfax County to get a green certification. Burke Centre and Oakton Libraries are LEED Silver certified.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors adopted a green building policy for county facilities in 2008. The policy requires that buildings with more than 10,000 square feet be constructed to meet minimum green building standards, if not exceed them. The policy applies to the design and construction of new county buildings and renovations or additions to existing county buildings.

Richard Byrd Library is a 17,753 square-foot building with approximately 70,000 volumes. Besides its green features, this library’s unique trait is its weathervane. Created by Connecticut artist John Thew, who met the admiral in the 1950s, the weathervane is an accurate replica of the Ford Tri-Motor airplane that Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd flew during his exploration of Antarctica and in his flight over the South Pole. The library is named for Admiral Byrd, a native Virginian and descendant of one of the First Families of Virginia.


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