Sno-Isle Libraries, greener all the time

Sno-Isle Libraries informational graphic shows progress toward sustainability

Click image for a closer look at Sno-Isle Libraries sustainability progress

By Jim Hills
Public Information Manager

Stewardship of public resources is a core value of Sno-Isle Libraries, and the approach of Earth Day 2016 is a good time to take stock of our library district’s environmental and economic progress.

Over the past five years, we’ve systematically become a greener, more sustainable operation. With 21 libraries, five mobile-library vehicles, a fleet of additional vehicles and a service center, Sno-Isle Libraries has plenty of places to look for efficiencies.

The tax-funded district has seen tremendous energy savings at the buildings it owns, says facilities manager Brian Rush. Those buildings are its Service Center in Marysville and eight libraries: Camano Island, Coupeville, Freeland, Granite Falls, Monroe, Mukilteo and Snohomish.

“More comfortable, more efficient buildings with reduced operating costs mean we can then spend that money on better services for our customers,” Rush says.

Steps from simple to sophisticated

When Rush joined the Sno-Isle staff in 2011, his initial conservation efforts were ones a homeowner might do. “We started with the simple things like more efficient light bulbs and sealing draft windows and doors,” he said.

More recently, Sno-Isle has implemented a sophisticated Delta Controls energy management system that makes sure the heating and cooling equipment at each building is scheduled and operating at peak efficiency. The system also allows Rush to monitor energy use from his smartphone.

The savings generated can be impressive, he said.

For example, improvements made over the past year to Marysville Library resulted in 66 percent less energy used in March 2016 than in March 2015. That could mean as much as an $18,000 savings on the utility bill, Rush said.

In 2015, Snohomish Library used 17 percent less electricity and 70 percent less natural gas than in 2011. Over the same five-year period, the Monroe Library used 23 percent less electricity and 51 percent less natural gas.

Being sustainable means more than reducing energy use, Rush said.

A drive toward fuel economy

In 2014, Sno-Isle Libraries started using Green Seal-certified cleaning practices, meaning cleaning products and methods minimize toxic impact on people and the environment. Sno-Isle contracts with ServiceMaster Building Maintenance, a firm that is certified by Green Seal.

Sno-Isle Libraries Bookmobile delivers books and fuel efficiency

Delivering books … and fuel efficiency

Improvements are also being made with Sno-Isle’s vehicles.

“Our fuel costs are less than half of what they used to be, and that’s not just because of lower fuel prices. We’re using more efficient vehicles” Rush said. “Our bookmobiles went from 6-7 miles per gallon to 15 miles per gallon. That’s because the engines are now 4- and 6-cylinder diesels instead of V-8 gasoline engines.”

The journey toward a more sustainable Sno-Isle Libraries has just begun, said Director of Facilities and Technical Services Jeanne Crisp.

“We will continue to transition to LED lighting wherever possible and there is more we can do with recycling and composting,” Crisp said. “We’d also like to explore solar power in the buildings where that would be appropriate, and perhaps find grant opportunities to help us.”

Rush agreed that sustainability is an ongoing process, one that he hopes, increasingly, to measure.

“There are standards such as Green Seal and LEED and Energy Star that set the bar,” Rush said. “I’d like to see us get certified in, say, Green Seal and Energy Star; we’d be rock stars.”


Comments

5 responses to “Sno-Isle Libraries, greener all the time”

  1. Kathy Hodgson says:

    Is there any chance that the libraries Sno-Isle owns could/would install at least one electric car charging station in the parking lot?

  2. Julie Titone says:

    Hmmm, good suggestion! Parking space is at a premium at many libraries, but we’ll pass the idea along.

  3. […] become a greener, more sustainable operation,” Public Information Manager Jim Hills wrote on Sno-Isle’s website. “With 21 libraries, five mobile-library vehicles, a fleet of additional vehicles and a […]

  4. […] become a greener, more sustainable operation,” Public Information Manager Jim Hills wrote on Sno-Isle’s website. “With 21 libraries, five mobile-library vehicles, a fleet of additional vehicles and a service […]

  5. […] become a greener, more sustainable operation,” Public Information Manager Jim Hills wrote on Sno-Isle’s website. “With 21 libraries, five mobile-library vehicles, a fleet of additional vehicles and a […]

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