Gulf Gate Library gets LEED-Silver certification for sustainability


gg2The Gulf Gate Library has been open for several months, but Sarasota County has just received its certification as a sustainable building from the United States Green Building Council.

The structure, built by Willis Smith Construction from a design from Harvard Jolly Architecture, earned enough “green points” for the USGBC’s LEED-Silver designation. LEED is an acronym that means “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.”

The project also was named Florida’s small public Project of the Year by the USGBC.

Sarasota County, rated the “greenest county in the state,” is committed to building all of its new buildings to green standards for sustainability, officials said at a presentation Thursday evening at the library. The event celebrated the LEED-Silver certification, and gave librarians a chance to show off a new book-sorting machine that is something like a high-tech baggage conveyor belt at your better airports. Much smaller, but no less impressive.

gg1While that machine reduces repetitive-stress injuries among library staff, the building is designed to promote the healthfulness of the indoor environment through its use of low- or no-VOC paints, sealers and adhesives, natural daylighting and efficient air-conditioning.

“VOCs are volatile organic compounds,” said green-rater Drew Smith. “It’s like that new-car smell, except that is a bad thing.”

The building also saves energy and water, said architect Amy Weber of Harvard Jolly.

“Sustainability is important to us,” the young architect said. “This is my favorite project.”

Smith, a national leader in sustainability and green-building consulting through his business, Two Trails, said the project scored LEED points in the seven key categories: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor air quality, innovation in design and regional priority.

Some green features of the building, as cited by Smith:

-- Material from the old library, which was demolished on the site, was recycled. Construction waste also was recycled, and the job site was kept clean to reduce dust, which can damage lungs and mechanical systems in the future.

gg3-- The library is within walking distance for neighborhood residents, is on a bus line, and has an electric-car charging station.

-- The landscape uses a minimal amount of sod, lots of native plants and some water-resistant plants that are not native. Irrigation is on a rain sensor, and the sod is on its own. The building has a 50 percent irrigation reduction and 88 percent irrigation reduction of use over standard landscapes.

-- With LED lights and chilled-water air-conditioning compressors that use magnetic levitation technology (no oil, less heat and maintenance), the building meets the AIA 2030 Challenge, beats the ASHRAE standard for energy use by 28 percent, and scores just 33.6 against a national average of 104 points.

Smith urges builders, clients and project managers to “think about LEED early on and save money. It is cheaper to put it (green methods and materials) in your specifications rather than a change order.”





Harold Bubil

Recipient of the 2015 Bob Graham Architectural Awareness Award from the American Institute of Architects/Florida-Caribbean, Harold Bubil is real estate editor of the Herald-Tribune Media Group. Born in Newport, R.I., his family moved to Sarasota in 1958. Harold graduated from Sarasota High School in 1970 and the University of Florida in 1974 with a degree in journalism. For the Herald-Tribune, he writes and edits stories about residential real estate, architecture, green building and local development history. He also is a photographer and public speaker. Contact him via email, or at (941) 361-4805.
Last modified: October 23, 2015
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