It’s a new week for book lovers, community members, kids and developers in Bozeman.
The new “green,” $17 million Bozeman Public Library opened this weekend in downtown Bozeman, just blocks away from its old home. The building is in the final stages of obtaining it’s Leading in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, which is similar to certified organic for buildings.
“Green” buildings are integrated to their place. It’s a building where energy is acquired through solar panels and water is conserved through waterless urinals, which save approx. 1,200 gallons a day. It’s a building where the children’s floor is made from 100 percent natural linseed oil and cork Marmoleum floor and is cleaned with nontoxic cleaners. It’s a building where 90 percent of the indoor space has natural light beaming in and is naturally ventilated, which is just a modern sexy way of saying it has the ability to open its windows.
The new 52,000-square-feet Bozeman Library is more than twice its previous size, but uses the equivalent amount of energy, something that is priceless with Montana’s rising energy cost. This building is the first building in Bozeman, fourth in Montana and first municipal building in Montana to receive a LEED-certification, which is obtained through the U.S. Green Building Council.
The new Library sits on 14-acres that was once the depot for the Chicago Milwaukee Railroad, whose soil was contaminated with asbestos and lead. The entire site went under remediation as part of the building’s LEED-certification process. This development approach was so valued by the city that it waived the $800,000 disposal fees into the city dump.
In the spring, native grasses, apple orchard and community garden will be planted. The sculptures currently places throughout the library will be scattered around the grounds. The Milwaukee Trail will link to Bozeman’s favorite dog trail, Pete’s Hill. And an outdoor community gathering location will be developed where once a Superfund site festered.
The great thing behind creating a LEED-certified library is it creates an example of people working together across multiple spectrums of the community. When developing a green building, it is a process that starts from day one with a LEED-consultant, who is not the part-time sous chef. They are there with the magnifying glass reading the cookbook with the architects, developer, engineers, interior decorators, city planners, employees and more. The librarian’s opinions of proper functionality are just as valuable as the structural engineer’s.
In Bozeman, the local community trails non-profit added their dash of how the Main Street to Mountains trails system could interconnect onto the property. The new bus system in Bozeman added their pinch about how to provide public transit accessibility to the property. The Health Department gave their two cups about the waterless urinal system. The Historic Society included their chopping advice in the deconstruction of the dilapidated train depot previously on site. And the school kids mixed the pot with their inspirational drawings of how they wanted the library to look.
LEED is about integrating the building with what best fits its place, location and determined use. And there is no better of an example of setting standards within a community about how the city aspires to develop than inviting all players to contribute and work together in creating a city municipal building that functions, breathes and fits its intended use.
There’s priceless experience of seeing hundreds of school kids racing through the front doors of a new library, excited and inspired about what is inside. That moment will stay with them, along with that building. It’s setting an example for Bozeman’s future.
So what was the motive behind it building a LEED-certified building? “We are all motivated by different things and that’s what moves us to action,” said Dr. Kath Williams, President of the World Green Building Council, who volunteered her time to the project. “There’s professional learning, or community education. Or to see the kids walk into the new Library and be excited. To show the next generation an example to say, ‘The Bozeman Library did 20-years ago.’ Taking a leadership role in new building standards motivates some people. Others are motivated by their tree-hugging morals. Still others want to create buildings that perform better. There is no one motive. That is the great thing about LEED, its voluntary. So people are taking it on because they are motivated and want to.”
The library identified its need for a new space in 1995, with a $4 million city bond passed in June 2001. There was an anonymous $500,000 donation if the project underwent the LEED process. The U.S. Green Building Council, a third party, will certify the building either gold or silver on the week of November 27th.