• l. yarotsky
  • "this is a little library upstate New York 'The Library We Want | 'Valatie Free Library'
"this is a little library upstate New York 'The Library We Want | 'Valatie Free Library'
Written by
l. yarotsky
July 2012
Written by
l. yarotsky
July 2012

Future Valatie Free Library a near Net-Zero building featured by the United Nations at the Rio+20 Sustainability Summit, Brazil

South Exposure reveals Solar Panels
© 2012  David Bienn Studio, All Rights Reserved. Architectural Design and Rendering by David Bienn


VALATIE, NY  - 22 June, 2012 -

The future Valatie Free Library's Evergreen Project for the Library We Want on Kinderhook Street (Rt 9) will be a near Net-Zero building.

Our Sustainable Library project caught the attention of the United Nations' recent Earth Summit (Rio+20)The U.N.'s Sustainability Initiative, The Future We Want / Rio+20 selected the Valatie library project to feature on its Solutions Sustainability page and at their recent Summit in Rio de Janeiro during June, 2012.

Valatie's 80 year old library was no longer meeting the needs of its constituency. Considering the exponentially rising costs of energy, a plan to relocate to a much larger space would prohibitively deplete the operating budget. The library's goal is to reduce both the need and the expense of energy for the library.

Architecture provided a unique solution: building designer, David Bienn—who has over two decades of evergreen design initiatives, working with sustainable communities in Europe and the USA—has specified energy-efficient, emerging-technology materials and construction techniques, viewing the building as a microcosm of the community. The planned green building project will align resource-use with 'ever-green' practices, including the installation of skylights, photovoltaic solar panel technology, and ductless air conditioning, with the goal of attaining Net-Zero energy usage, "allowing the library to be more self-sufficient in unpredictable economic times, as an ever-present member of the Valatie and world community", said Bienn.

The innovative building materials and techniques include energy-efficient thermal Steel Structural Insulated Galvalume Panels (SSIPs), combined with an expanded polystyrene core. The 'shell' for the new addition will be composed of SSIPs for the external, load-bearing walls and form an integral part of the roof system. This building envelope will protect against fire, hurricanes, ice-storms, and other disasters, saving on insurance and drastically reducing resource depletion of the library's operating budget. The new specified materials and construction techniques are resistant to fire, pestilence and storms and have enjoyed wide use in the rebuilding of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina. Valatie is one of the very first to employ these new materials outside of the Gulf Coast.

With the ability to generate power from the sun during an emergency, such as an ice storm or other incident, the library's solar power has an additional opportunity for 'net metering': the library produces power when the sun shines—sending it into the grid—only purchasing power back from the grid when needed, all serving to lower costs and leave the library's operating budget intact.

According to Bienn, “the strategies that we are applying to move the Valatie Free Library into the range of net-zero energy usage will allow the building to sustain itself and be more self-sufficient.”

With costs eligible for matching New York State "Public Library Construction Grants", and additional installation costs funded through rebates by the NYS Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the building and installation cost of these improvements should pay for themselves within a few years. Utility savings will yield funds for the purchase of books and materials for the library's collections, as well as for operating budget and programs.

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