The Library opened during a mini-heatwave in September 2013. How many modern buildings over-heat at the mere hint of summer? Not so the Library of Birmingham. Once more the Library works with the local environment rather than against it, to achieve a comfortable working temperature. Cold groundwater from an aquifer under Broad Street is used to provide low-carbon air conditioning to the building.
The building is connected to the Broad Street Combined Heat and Power network (CHP). This is a mini power station, which, unlike conventional power stations, re-uses the waste heat from electricity generation. The CHP also supplies efficient, low-carbon electricity and heat to the ICC, the Rep theatre, the Hyatt, and other buildings around Broad Street.
These features helped the Library to achieve a prestigious ‘Excellent’ rating its the BREAAM sustainable buildings assessment. Other environmentally friendly features include maximising daylight and natural ventilation, rainwater harvesting, and minimising energy used in construction. Wind turbines and solar panels are good things but the Library shows that there are many ways to minimise the environmental impact of a building.
Of course, not everyone can use an aquifer to cool their building, or construct a living roof on their home. But everyone can be inspired to do something to save energy and water, especially if you do things in the right order:
- Don’t use energy and water that you don’t need. Use your heating controls. Don’t spend too long in the shower. Leave the car at home if possible.
- Use energy more efficiently. Insulate the walls and roof of your home. Use energy efficient appliances and heating systems.
- When you’ve done the first two, then you can consider using renewable energy – solar hot water systems or solar electricity are a good investment.
The Library of Birmingham shows the future for high-quality, low carbon buildings in cities like Birmingham.