This blog represents most of the newspaper columns (appearing in various Colorado Community Newspapers and Yourhub.com) written by me, James LaRue, during the time in which I was the director of the Douglas County Libraries in Douglas County, Colorado. (Some columns are missing, due to my own filing errors.) This blog covers the time period from April 11, 1990 to January 12, 2012.

Unless I say so, the views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They may be quoted elsewhere, so long as you give attribution. The dates are (at least according my records) the dates of publication in one of the above print newspapers.

The blog archive (web view) is in chronological order. The display of entries, below, seems to be in reverse order, new to old.

All of the mistakes are of course my own responsibility.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

April 17, 2008 - library goes green

A LONG time ago, my wife and I wrote an article about "green librarianship." Just then -- back around the late 1980s -- a lot of information was coming out about "sick building syndrome," and the toxic effects of some chemicals.

Since then, I have tried, with varying degrees of success, to practice the principles of green librarianship.

My continuing interest in this topic is based on an administrative realization. People imagine that the costs of library facility operations are all about their construction. That's not true. The cost is in operations.

I think designing our buildings to be green is not just a good thing to do, it demonstrably saves taxpayer money. I've written in the past about "LEED-certification" (LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design; the levels move up from silver to gold to platinum.) We hope to be pursuing LEED-certification for all our future library buildings.

We've even invested in LEED-accreditation for our Facilities Manager (I believe he's one of the first in the county, if not the first), and he's already saved us money.

There are also some retrofits – making an existing building greener. Some examples: we put solar panels on our Neighborhood Library at Lone Tree, cut back water use in our restrooms, retrofit some of our older and inefficient lighting, and added occupancy sensors for lighting controls. It adds up.

Another thing we've done at our buildings is to ensure a good supply of fresh air. That drives up heating and cooling costs, but it keeps public and staff healthier. Our Heating/Ventilation/Air-Conditioning system also has some sophisticated software that helps us manage our energy use better.

Yet another approach is recycling. We have an in-house recycling program for all kinds of waste. Incidentally, soon we will no longer offer plastic bags for people to stuff their checkout materials into. But we encourage you to bring your own bags.

We also offer (for purchase) a large canvas bag with the library logo on it. We're working on a smaller bag that we'll sell for $1 each.

In April, during National Library Week (April 13-19), we're offering some "GO GREEN programming" -- on the topics of homemade natural cleaning products, recycling with worms, and organic food. Check our website for details (DouglasCountyLibraries.org).

Do you have some tips for going green? If so, send them to gogreen@dclibraries.org. Maybe you've discovered or learned something that really makes a difference in your own home or business. Share! We plan to post the best of what we gather.

Incidentally, Douglas County Libraries is not the only Douglas County organization working on this effort. In fact, all members of the Partnership of Douglas County Governments have put "going green" -- sustainability -- on our mutual agenda.

We have been blessed with an extraordinarily beautiful natural setting in the county; respecting that asset in our construction and operations preserves the very thing that brought many of us here in the first place. It also represents a more enlightened, long-term view of the real costs of government.

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