NIH Library About Us Going Green

Going Green


Terrace Construction Photos (PDF 14 MB)
Current Weather
Educational Tour (requires media player)
List of Plants (PDF 11 KB)
Promoting Green at the NIH Library (PDF 270 KB)
Virtual Tour (requires media player)

The 4400-square-foot cement area adjacent to the NIH Library in Building 10 has been transformed into a verdant, eco-friendly garden terrace. The terrace project won the HHS Green Champion Award (FY 2009) for Sustainable Building Design. The terrace project and the other green initiatives won the  Medical Library Association Green Project of the Year Award (2011).  

The NIH Library Green Terrace is an extension of the newly redesigned NIH Library facility and serves as an outdoor green garden oasis for NIH staff and visitors. The Green Terrace environment provides a natural, relaxing setting for individuals and groups to retreat, read, reflect, and rejuvenate.

A new entrance from the physical library to the Green Terrace has been installed to allow library patrons easy access to both environments.

Green Roof and Plantings
The NIH Library Green Terrace showcases several garden areas which are rooted in engineered soil. Some of the garden areas are drought tolerant, while others are designed for more traditional perennial gardens including an annual zone that features several types of tropical plants currently being researched at NIH for their medicinal values.

The walls surrounding the Green Terrace will be softened with several species of vines cascading from roof areas above or twined up on mounted trellises. The combination of garden surfaces and covered walls will help reduce the extreme temperatures in the summer. Green Terrace visitors may enjoy the eating nooks and bench seating under the shade canopies and along the garden walls.

Solar Energy
The solar panels were mounted on the roof just south of the terrace and supply energy into the grid.

Storm Water Management
Rain will be stored on site in a 1200 gallon cistern and recycled to irrigate the gardens and reduce the flow to and from the municipal water supply and storm systems. This feature, in combination with the vegetated roof areas, offers important reductions in storm water runoff from the NIH campus, ultimately supporting water quality improvement and conservation goals for the broader Chesapeake Bay watershed.

The new tables and chairs are made of wood from sustainable forests. The older benches were repaired and refurbished to match the new ones.

Current Weather
A weather station monitors the current weather on the terrace. It updates the data every 10 minutes.

The 8000-square-foot Reading Room has several new features and green initiatives. It offers a comfortable place to study, work, or read with natural sunlight coming from large windows. A new Self-Service Checkout station allows you to take library materials from the library onto the Green Terrace.

Window Shades
The shades have GreenGuard certification. They are made of a fabric with low emission material. The fabric allows natural light to come through but reduces the heat transfer from the sun.

Training Room
A Training Room and Media Room were created in the space where the journal collection had resided. The company that constructed the walls received the Excellence in Partnership Award for Industry Green Contractor from the U.S. Coalition for Government Procurement and GSA Members. It is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council and promotes LEED certification. Some examples of their green footprint are the way they ship products in large reusable “cookie” trays and the recycled content of their materials.

The ceiling of the rooms is made of bamboo tiles from a different company.

Study Carrels
Instead of buying some new carrels with electrical outlets for laptop computers and other devices, the library decided to update the old carrels by installing new outlets.

The light bulbs in the Reading Room ceiling were replaced with high-efficiency fluorescent bulbs. The first two rows of lights next to the windows have sensors that dim the lights based on the amount of sunlight coming through the windows. For the spot lights above the columns and hanging sculpture, we found energy efficient CFL bulbs that produce great beams of light. They replaced the halogen light bulbs which were costly to operate and emitted a lot of heat. The staff offices and training areas have motion sensors that turn off the lights when no activity is detected. The entrance of the Library has display boxes with internal LED string lights that were purchased from a small, local company.

The recycled content of the carpet was certified by Scientific Certification Systems.

Water Usage
Bathroom sinks and toilets have low-flow features to save water.

Green Team at the NIHL
The team has been very active with recycling materials and saving energy.

Services and Resources
In addition to the facility being green, many of the NIH Library’s services and resources are eco-friendly.
Document Delivery
The service is paperless. We scan articles into PDFs and email them to you.

We use recycled paper. There are recycling bins throughout the library.

Printing in Reading Room
During October and November of 2010, the NIHL created a pop-up message on the PCs that encouraged patrons to save paper by digitally storing their work instead of printing. As a result, the library saved 22,000 sheets of paper which equates to saving almost 3 trees!
99% of our journals are online which saves a lot of trees. There are over 10,000 journals in the collection.

Copier / Scanner
The machine makes photocopies or scans information into PDFs that can be stored on a USB key or sent via email in color, saving paper and toner. The self-service photocopy service requires users to login.

For more information, please contact Bradley Otterson at 301.496.2258.