How green is the new library?
People often ask what sustainability strategies have been factored into the design of the new Memorial Library, according to the Chair of the Armidale Dumaresq Civic Precinct management committee, Judith Ross-Smith.
â€œThe plans for the new War Memorial Library were drawn by library design specialists Wilson Architects of Brisbane some five years ago at the request of the Armidale Dumaresq Council, after expressions of interest had been sourced,â€ said Judith Ross-Smith.
â€œThe ADCP committee recently wrote to Wilsons to ask for a statement on how the matter of sustainability had been addressed in the original plans.â€
In the reply, architect Mr Michael Hartwich, speaking on behalf of the firm, said the measures in place â€˜should show that the council has managed its duty to balance sustainability with budget, practicality and function in a strategic and professionally responsible mannerâ€™.
He said the design had approached sustainability on a number of levels, including passive design strategies maximising natural daylight, while controlling the amount of solar heat gain through a combination of screens, high performance glass and roof overhangs and planting. Controlled skylights would allow natural light deep into the building to reduce reliance on artificial lighting.
Where artificial lighting was required, lights would be selected from the most appropriate energy fittings available. They would be controlled by an active system responding to natural daylight levels to minimise energy consumption.
At the same time, all walls, roofs and floors would be suitably insulated to deal with high summer and freezing winter temperatures.
Roof water is to be collected for reuse in amenities, and there is a possibility for wider use for landscape maintenance.
Mrs Ross-Smith said other questions had been asked about the landscaping and the fate of existing trees.
â€œObviously some trees would have to go to actually build the structure, but the architects have assured us that the landscape strategies maximise the retention of significant trees and the planting of new trees.
â€œThis will provide a green and shaded civic space behind the council offices and through Cinders Lane.
â€œWe are hoping members of the community might contribute to the fundraising for the Precinct by â€˜purchasingâ€™ trees, shrubs and park benches to make the area user friendly. These gifts would be recorded with the donorâ€™s name,â€ she said.
The roof design would allow for a large array of solar panels, which were not envisaged at the time of the original design, due to budgetary constraints, but this could become feasible in the future as costs for these items become more acceptable.
Mr Hartwich said the reuse of the existing faÃ§ade of the old council administration building was significant, not only because of the advantage of not demolishing it, but also it was deemed an important link to the cultural history of Armidale.
â€œThe design also embraces the existing heritage-listed town hall as an integral and important part of the civic fabric. This facilitates compliant access and revitalises its ability to function as a significant civic space for years to come,â€ he said.
Mrs Ross-Smith said a mention had been made to her about parking for bikes.
â€œIt seems this has been given consideration too and not only will the design include parking for bikes, but also â€˜end of tripâ€™ facilities like showers and other amenities.
â€œParking for cars, replacing the existing car park, has been provided under the building.â€
â€œAnother concern was whether traders in the Mall shops could still park their cars behind their businesses.
â€œI was able to assure them that Cinders Lane will still have access for vehicles and, as now, the car park under the library will be accessed from the existing lane,â€ said Judith.
The architect said that there had been many changes in the industry since the designs were drawn.
â€œMany items (photovoltaics for example) have significantly reduced in price.
â€œThere are new technologies and new approaches that could enhance further the buildingâ€™s â€˜greenâ€™ credentials and reduce its environmental footprint.â€
Judith Ross-Smith said that, when sufficient funding had been received to consider putting in a development order for the building, an expert building sub-committee would be appointed to look into what could be done to embrace any advances in environmental technologies.