Grand opening of the new George W. Hawkes Downtown Library in Arlington is June 16. Images courtesy of city of Arlington.
June 4, 2018
With a sweeping metal exterior, solar panels and rooftop gardens, Arlington’s new George W. Hawkes Downtown Library is poised to write a bold chapter in eco-friendly urban planning in North Texas.
Grand Opening for the 70,000 square-foot, three-story innovation is June 16, followed by days of get-acquainted community events called Discover Your Story.
The ultramodern library, behind Arlington’s City Hall, is a groundbreaking public-private partnership that puts sustainable design and construction in the spotlight and helps library users to live more earth-friendly themselves.
Green Mountain Energy’s Sun Club partnered with the city of Arlington to make the $30 million library an incubator of sustainability and ecological best practices in the heart of Arlington. Green Mountain gave the library project a generous $400,000 gift, the group’s largest-ever donation, that funded the library’s many energy and environment-saving features.
The Green Mountain Energy Sun Club is a nonprofit organization founded in 2002 that promotes sustainability by investing in community projects in Texas and the Northeast. To date, the Sun Club has donated more than $6.5 million to nearly 100 nonprofit organizations.
Green Mountain Energy’s Sun Club partnered with the city of Arlington to make the $30 million library an incubator of sustainability and ecological best practices in the heart of Arlington.
The Sun Club focuses on projects related to renewable energy, energy efficiency and resource conservation. Contributions to the Sun Club come from Green Mountain Energy’s residential customers in Texas, as well as from Green Mountain, its employees and supporters.
Yoko Matsumoto, Arlington’s director of libraries, said the new library is 20,000 square feet larger than the building it replaced. The city provided $22 million for the new library, and a capital campaign raised another $4 million. The Arlington Tomorrow Foundation, a charity formed from the city's substantial gas drilling revenue, gave $4.1 million.
Matsumoto and Ayesha Hawkins, library promotions coordinator, stressed the library’s overall focus can be summed up in an informal motto gleaned from the Sun Club: “Learn, Practice, Implement.”
“We want to teach our community how to live sustainably through programs, demonstrations, and just by modeling,” Matsumoto said.
A creekbed was designed to accomodate rainwater runoff.
“Holistic sustainability,” Hawkins added.
The Sun Club’s contribution paid for an array of 65 photovoltaic solar panels on the roof that are expected to cut the library’s operating costs by about $12,000 annually, but there was much more.
The Sun Club’s contribution paid for an array of 65 photovoltaic solar panels on the roof that are expected to cut the library’s operating costs by about $12,000 annually.
“Initially our projects were all solar installations, but over time we’ve wanted to have larger impacts,” said Sun Club spokesperson Alex Angelina. “This is the first one that is this involved, and we will branch out and do a number of wider ranging projects in other locations.”
Additional Sun Club-funded sustainability features at the new library include a monarch butterfly garden and a rooftop garden with two stand-alone dinner gardens for growing herbs and vegetables; and the Sun Club Sustainability Shop, offering used books, refurbished electronics and reusable goods for purchase.
A recycling drop-off is located in the lobby for books and technology items. Vertical urban garden boxes and a seed library where residents can get seed to grow plants, fruits, vegetables and flowers have also been funded by the Sun Club.
Additional Sun Club-funded sustainability features at the new library include a monarch butterfly garden and a rooftop garden with two stand-alone dinner gardens; and the Sun Club Sustainability Shop, offering used books, refurbished electronics and reusable goods for purchase.
Meanwhile, the building’s architecture, mechanical and lighting systems work together to reduce the overall energy consumption by more than 22 percent, with LED lighting combined with sensors that reduce lighting when there is more natural light coming through the windows and turning on the lights in a room only when there is someone in the room detected through occupancy sensors.
The use of ozone-depleting refrigerant chemicals has been minimized. South-facing windows will absorb solar energy in the winter for warming the building.
The overall building design contains locally made materials as much as possible, about 20 percent, reducing transportation costs. Recycled materials were also used in construction, including the steel structure, aggregate in the concrete, drywall materials and ceiling tiles. More than 20 percent of the total materials cost was spent on less-expensive recycled materials.
3-D printers offer state-of-the-art technology.
Wood components were certified by a tracking company that monitors the responsible cutting and growth of forests as well as the sustainable processing of wood products.
The library’s interior is also designed to be environmentally friendly, with two-sided printers for waste reduction, and hydration stations to fill reusable water bottles. The building’s overall water use is expected to drop by 41 percent, saving some 118,570 gallons of water every year.
The city’s parks department is in charge of installation and upkeep of the drought-resistant and bee-friendly landscaping, and plans call for enlisting the nearly 40 members of Arlington’s bee-keeping community to offer public classes on creating landscapes that attract pollinators.