Bright-Minded Home- Jan/Feb 2012



By Melissa Coleman

Q+A with Clare Hannan and Stephen Podgajny of the Portland Public Library


With the goal of cutting energy costs, phase one of Portland Public Library’s renovation by Scott Simons Architects incorporated many energy-efficient design features, including a solar chimney, low water-consumption plumbing features, high-efficiency gas boilers, radiant floor heating, improved HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning) zoning, high-efficiency lamps and ballasts, and lighting fixtures with optical efficiency. The solar chimney takes advantage of the southern exposure and existing stone panels at the front of the building to direct naturally preheated air to the mechanical system.

Q: What benefits have these energy-efficient features provided?
A: Of note was the impact on the natural gas usage—a decrease of just over 23 percent—due to installation of high-efficiency boilers. However, given that we added 2,400 square footage of volume, and that the first phase included only a partial renovation to our HVAC system, we weren’t surprised to see an overall expense increase of just under 10 percent, when comparing usage in 2011 to that of 2009 (the last full year on record), and using 2009 rates for comparison. Our kWh usage went up overall by 14.65 percent, in large part due to additional volume in the atrium area requiring cooling, and the age of our chiller, which was not replaced during the renovation.

Q: Are you happy with the results?
A: We believe the measures implemented during Phase One of the renovation resulted in improvements, and overall, the facility is more comfortable for our patrons and staff.

Q: What’s next?
A: In Phase Two we plan to work toward final HVAC system upgrades to include high-efficiency air handlers, a new chiller unit, and consideration of solar panels.