Thanks to solar panels, a geothermal heating and cooling system, and a gift of carbon-offset credits, Rangeview Library District’s new Anythink Brighton, Colorado, branch is believed to be the first carbon-positive library in the United States. The building, which opened in September, offsets 167,620 pounds of carbon dioxide—16% more than it is anticipated to use annually.
The general contractor, Fransen Pittman, donated $2,400 in carbon-offset credits split equally between Brighton and a yet-to-be-built branch, which pushed the Brighton building into its carbon-positive state.
- Geothermal heating and cooling. A closed system of pipes carries fluid through the floors to wells 500 feet below the parking lot. While underground, the temperature of the fluid moderates to about 58 degrees Farenheit, year-round; when it’s pumping through the floors, it helps to cool the building in summer and heat it in winter, requiring about half the energy of blowing heated or cooled air.
- Solatubes. These capture natural light outside, and deliver through reflective tubes to illuminate interior spaces, even if there is no window or skylight.
- Lighting controls, including motion sensors and stepped ballasts to regulate the amount of artificial lighting needed.
- South-facing facades. Windows receive direct light in winter, with awnings to provide shade during summer.
“Without the carbon-offset credits, the Brighton branch emits 345,000 pounds of carbon a year, which for this size of building is darn good,” Hansen said. He added that a comparably sized building would typically have carbon emissions of more than a million pounds annually.