LEED ID+C: Commercial Interiors v2.0
Park Library - San Francisco
LEED Gold 2011
A key objective was to use these branch libraries as models for the community to show that it was possible to improve sustainability in important historic structures without compromising their integrity.
In November 2000, San Francisco voters passed a bond measure enabling a partnership between the San Francisco Public Library (SFPL) and Department of Public Works (DPW) to improve the branch library system. By July 2011, the Branch Library Improvement Program (BLIP) had completed 20 renovation projects. The Park Branch Library, the oldest standing public library branch in San Francisco, reopened in February 2011 and was awarded LEED Gold Certification in October 2011.
The Park Branch Library is a neo-classical, brick and terra cotta building built in 1909. The library is 8,825 square feet with main stacks on the upper floor and a large community room on the lower floor. Park Branch serves the neighborhoods of Upper and Lower Haight, Cole Valley, North of Panhandle, and part of Parnassus Park.
The LEED project scope was an interior renovation to improve patron service, staff work areas, and ADA accessibility, while preserving the historic character of the facilities. Historic preservation, an expressed community need, was prioritized in design. The goal of the renovation was to preserve the heritage community asset while providing a 21st-century library that meets present and future patrons’ needs, including computers, wireless access, self-check stations, multi-media AV, and improved ergonomics.
A significant aspect of the project was involvement of the community and library patrons in the renovation’s services and design aspects. Community members strongly supported retaining the versatile large community room because it has served the neighborhood through decades of local activist meetings, family and youth programs, and community organizing. Patrons and staff were adamant about maintaining the large, open feel of the main stacks, while recognizing the changing technological needs of users.
Park Branch is unique among LEED projects in San Francisco because of its heritage preservation goals and the use of the LEED for Commercial Interiors Rating System to achieve certification. This library serves as a model for exploring the possibilities of sustainability while maintaining historic structural and aesthetic integrity. The original building designs included natural ventilation, abundant natural light with shades to reduce glare, direct and indirect lighting, and task lighting at book stacks and tables. Many of these features were abandoned or compromised over the years, but during LEED certification, were revived using energy-efficient lighting and controls. All operable windows were restored to their original functional condition. Existing perimeter shelving and most tables and furnishings were restored and adapted for accessibility while retaining their original character. Educational signage engages the public in the project’s sustainable design approaches.
Another important achievement was 98% diversion of construction and demolition materials from the landfill, which included implementing composting during and after renovation. Design-case water usage was reduced by 41% from baseline, and accessibility was improved throughout with new site ramps, doors, bathroom facilities, drinking fountains, and signage.
The Park Branch library is located on a 7,500-square-foot lot in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco. The library has a walk score of 92 due to its close proximity to transit, bike lanes, parks, schools, retail, grocery, and other services. The neighborhood is primarily residential, characterized by multi-family Victorian homes and apartment buildings. Other prominent neighborhood characteristics are the nearby Cole Valley boutiques, the iconic Haight Street businesses, and recreation in Golden Gate Park. The Haight-Ashbury neighborhood has been synonymous with bohemian sub-culture, tolerance, and diversity since the 1960s.