Concentration of CO2 in the Atmosphere

Meriden, NH’s New Library Showcases an Energy Efficient Building Design

Meriden, NH’s New Library Showcases an Energy Efficient Building Design

G.E.T. staff

The construction of the Meriden, New Hampshire library on 22 Bean Road presented an ideal opportunity for energy-efficient new construction through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative- funded NHSaves Municipal Program and partner utility Liberty. The project included demolition of the 1965 building and its replacement with a new 3700 square foot, energy-efficient building on the same piece of land. The old library was not in compliance with accessibility standards and had poor occupancy comfort.

The town adopted a “Ready for 100” (R100) initiative in 2018, which is a commitment for town facilities to move to electricity from 100% renewable sources by 2030, and 100% of all energy from renewables by 2050. To meet the R100 goals, the new building would be fully operated from electricity. Liberty, through the NHSaves program provided construction and technical assistance incentives for design modeling enabling value-based tuning of the design to meet the R100 goals.

Demolishing the original library. (Courtesy photos)

In March of 2021, the town passed a warrant article to remove the existing building and replace it with a new facility. The charming little brick building served its community well for over 50 years. Over time, the needs of the community changed and the library became outdated. The building had asbestos, was not in compliance with current accessibility standards, and the HVAC system and insulation needed to be updated. Therefore, it was more practical to replace the facility than to renovate it.

The project began in November 2021 with the demolition of the old library, including hazardous materials abatement. By the end of 2021, the new site had been excavated and the foundation, footings and walls poured. GeoBarns began construction in the spring of 2022. The library opened its doors on April 10, 2023.

The new library met energy efficiency goals by being well-insulated with a R15 insulated foundation (stem wall with thermally isolated slab on grade), R34 exterior walls, and R57 roof. Insulation work was performed by Quality Insulation of Meredith, NH. Triple-glazed windows with a U-factor of 0.17 by Wythe were installed and energy efficient doors by Kohltec were used. The mechanical systems provide heating, cooling and ventilation in three zones using two very highly efficient air-sourced heat pumps. One is a two-ton ductless system. The other is a 3.5-ton, ducted system. To ventilate they installed four ERV’s. Another energy efficient measure is LED lighting. Other factors considered in building a highly efficient structure reducing the carbon footprint of the products used in the building and reducing the overall size and energy demands of the building. Geobarns believes in vapor open, air- and water-tight assemblies, and used products to achieve this.

A post construction blower door test resulted in ACH(50) of 0.18. This exceeds state code requirement and the threshold for a high-performance building. Achieving these results requires getting the whole team on board, starting from the design team specifying the right details on the plans, project managers and superintendents communicating and checking installation standards, well-practiced installation and care for the products, and attention to detail from the team of carpenters and insulators executing the work. It also takes awareness and care from the other trades to make sure the assembly stays intact and is not damaged in the process of their work. The estimated energy savings are 18MWh per year and lifetime savings of 276MWh. A one-year post occupancy performance check will be conducted in the spring of 2024.

Geobarns also ensures the build environment provides a connection to the natural environment. Geobarns consulted with Resilient Buildings Group to incoporate biophilic design principles into the design. RBG worked with Geobarns to review the architecture of the space, its connectivity to outside through windows, patio spaces, and natural light, through features such as the monitor cupola. Geobarns worked with the library design committee to utilize its material palette with various types and textured woods, wall finishes and colors to provide connection to these natural materials inside the space as well.

Additional project highlights include improved safety for pedestrians and vehicles including curbing and sidewalks, two handicap-accessible bathrooms, a 30-person community room, a smaller meeting room, and an abundance of natural light. The building not only serves as a library but as a community meeting space.

The cost of the project was just under $1.2M. The project was funded entirely by donations, existing funds, and support from Liberty’s NHSaves program. Resilient Buildings Group helped to coordinate NHSaves funding for the project with Liberty. This program provided $18,300 in RGGI funded incentives for construction, technical assistance, and post-occupancy assessment.

Library Trustee and Treasurer Jennifer Lenz said, “Liberty and its NHSaves program supported technical assistance in the areas of energy modeling, design review and post construction analysis which was key to our integrated design process. It enabled us to make informed choices, resulting in a comfortable and efficient building delivered within our budget, especially with the added help of the incentive money. The Meriden Library is a beautiful addition to our community, and we appreciate everyone at Liberty’s NHSaves and Resilient Buildings Group who helped along the way.” Lenz added, “I also want to report that as the person who pays the bills for the libraries, I have been pleasantly surprised at how low our electricity bills have been so far.”

This project provides an excellent example of how energy efficiency can be integrated into projects that meet a variety of community needs, ensuring reductions of energy use, carbon emissions and energy bills for many years to come.

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