“The consideration of the role of humanity in climate change and the notion of sustainable development are core concerns of society, and consequently of libraries.”
The Ecological world is continuously vitiated by human activities which cause environmental challenges like global warming and climate change. Glaciers are melting at a faster rate and temperature is rising world-wide due to greenhouse gases, which will result in trapping more heat in the atmosphere. Among all these happenings, the role of green libraries is somehow neglected in the context of mitigating climate change. Over the last few years, there is increasing interest towards green revolution in every sector of the world to maintain ecological sustainability, and the development of green libraries is one of them.
Green or sustainable libraries are designed to maintain the natural ecological balance and to preserve the information resources that meet the needs of current generation without compromising the heritage for the future generation. The architecture and interior design of the library should be planned in such a way to devise water management, optimize energy efficiency, conserves natural resources, minimize pollution and employ waste management that can contribute to sustainability and helps in mitigating climate change. Moreover, as per the latest research, the quality of lighting in the reading space of the library has a great influence on the learning efficiency, mental and physical health of the students, which is also the prerequisite conditions for sustainable development as per United Nations (UN).
Ways to transform Libraries
Sufficient Natural Light: The architecture design of the library building for trapping maximum sunlight not only influence physical and mental health of the readers but also reduces the energy consumption of the building. The natural light can be harvested evenly around the building without glare to reduce the reliance on artificial lighting. Sunlight also evokes positive emotions and reduces stress and anxiety among the students and users find sunlight to be the most enjoyable light for reading. A strategically situated windows and a fully automated lighting system utilizes daylight harvesting for reducing energy consumption.
Energy Management: Renewable energy systems such as solar and wind energy can be used to fulfil the energy requirement of the green libraries. All the electronic devices used in the library should be according to the latest star rating for reducing the consumption of electricity. Conventional air conditioning (A.C.) systems can be replaced by the adoption of energy Efficient Chilled Beam System (CBS) for cooling and heating purpose in the library building. This is an innovative air conditioning system through which one can achieve 40% energy saving. Further by designing proper ventilation system and temperature control systems can also save a lot of energy.
Waste Management: Recycle and reuse of the papers and non-biodegradable products like bottles, cans, tin should be followed in making the libraries more and more green. Plastic should be banned consciously as it is non-disposable which cause a major threat to the environment. Scanning of documents should be promoted by providing scanning service instead of xerox which reduce the usage of paper. Adoption of more e-books and e-journals should be encouraged in order to save papers and make our society – a paperless society.
Water Management: Rainwater harvesting can be utilized in the library building to save a lot of water which can further be used for toilets, bathrooms, irrigation, cleaning and for other purposes. Use of sensor taps and dual flush toilets should also be encouraged.
Indoor environmental quality: Air quality can be increased by planting more and more indoor and decorative plants which give artistic look to the library. A proper plantation is needed inside and outside of the library which provides clean and pure air and make library refreshing. Trees planted outside the library gives pleasant air and also provide shelter to the users during summer. Indoor gardening can create eco-friendly environment which attract the user and has a very calm effect on our mind, body and soul. Various medicinal plants can also be planted outside the library.
Smart Sensors: Adoption of Light sensors should be encouraged for lighting so that the areas will be lighted only when it is in use by the users. Motion sensors, timers and energy saving dimmers can also be used which helps in reducing energy consumed. Air quality inside the library should be maintained by IoT base indoor air quality monitoring platform, consisting of an air quality-sensing device called “Smart-Air” and a web server to monitor indoor air quality anywhere and anytime.
All the points discussed above are mandatory for libraries to go for green. In India, GRIHA (Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment) developed by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) with support from the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), Government of India, is the first indigenous rating system for green buildings to address sustainability issues. LEED (Leadership in energy and environmental design) is also green building rating system developed by U.S. Green building Council. The Anna Centenary Library at Chennai in India is the largest LEED Gold rated green library in Asia which consume 30% less energy and 20% less potable water. Government of India should make some provisions for all educational institutions to go for Green Libraries, because a small step makes a big revolution for the sustenance of our Mother Earth.
(The author is Librarian, Govt. Degree College Kathua)