U.S. Department of Energy to assist library construction

U.S. Department of Energy to assist library construction

Samantha Butcher

Grand Valley State University’s Mary Idema Pew Library Learning and Information Commons was selected as one of 24 projects to receive technical assistance from the U.S. Department of Energy.

U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu announced last month that GVSU will be included in its Commercial Building Partnerships, which aims to design, construct and test low-energy building plans. The assistance from the DOE will focus on reducing the library’s energy use. A team of engineers from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory will give the library’s designers technical assistance to make it more energy efficient.

GVSU is the only Michigan project included in the partnership.

“Grand Valley is always finding ways to operate as efficiently as possible,” said James Moyer, assistant vice president for Facilities Planning. “We are honored to be chosen to work with a group of world-class people who recognize Grand Valley’s sustainable efforts and are looking forward to transfer the best practices learned during this project to future projects.”

The DOE projects are funded with a public/private cost-sharing agreement. Building owners are expected to contribute 20 percent or more of the cost and do not receive direct funding. Instead, GVSU and other projects involved in the partnership get access to guidance to implement energy efficient technology from experts in the field.

Over the next three years, $21 million will be spent on the projects, which are supported by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Each project receives between $200,000 and $1.2 million in assistance.

The Pew Library budget is $70 million.

“This grant is unique because rather than receiving funds, we’re receiving technical expertise,” Moyer said in a press release.

The Mary Idema Pew Library Learning and Information Commons, slated to open in fall 2013, will have three floors and room for 150,000 books, which is 10,000 books more than the Zumeburge Library’s 140,000-book capacity.

“We need a new library, obviously,” said Maribeth Wardrop, vice president of University Development. “Our first library was built in the ’60s for 3,000 to 5,000 students. We have close to 25,000 students right now.”

Chu said he hoped the partnership would serve as a model for future construction projects.

“These Recovery Act projects are bringing together experts from our National Laboratories and the private sector to help businesses and organizations reduce the energy they use in their facilities, saving them money on their energy bills and making them more competitive economically,” he said in a press release. “This initiative will also demonstrate to other commercial building operators that cost-effective, energy-efficient technologies exist today that will help lower the operating and energy costs of their buildings.”

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