Best green practices explored for Jones Library project

  • Valerie Gracechild of Amherst reads in the atrium of the Jones Library in Amherst on Thursday afternoon, Aug. 15, 2019.

Staff Writer
Published: 1/26/2020 11:21:54 PM
Modified: 1/26/2020 11:21:39 PM

AMHERST — Before expansion and renovation of the Jones Library begins, trustees for the library system are making sure that a thorough examination of sustainable practices during and after construction is available.

The trustees agreed earlier this month to spend $57,050 to have Finegold Alexander Architects of Boston coordinate the investigation of sustainability goals, including incorporating elements of net-zero energy use into the building and design.

Library Director Sharon Sharry said moving forward with the $35.6 million project, which could be funded as soon as July by a $13.87 million grant from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, will not be affected by this study. What it will do is give trustees more information about ways to make the project more environmentally responsible.

“This proposal for additional work does not change the state process,” Sharry said. “Rather, it will help the trustees make educated decisions about the designs, specifically having to do with sustainability.”

As part of the work, for instance, Finegold Alexander and other consultants may look at other libraries and how they have reduced energy use through measures such as maximizing daylight, controlling lighting with sensors, using better quality windows and improved insulation, reducing outlets to reading tables and meeting rooms, and employing a high-efficiency HVAC system and air source heat pumps.

The consultants will also look at options for on-site renewable energy, such as solar panels on the roof or geothermal wells.

In its approved memo, representatives from the company state that “information from these studies will be shared with the Jones Library as work progresses, to enable timely decision making. A final summary of design recommendations will be summarized in a report as part of the schematic design documents.”

The building project will add 17,000 square feet to the 48,000-square-foot building.

Other areas of study include the potential elimination of the use of fossil fuels in the building, use of “low-embodied carbon materials” in construction, and a “whole building life cycle analysis,” which assesses how the project impacts the env3ironment in myriad ways, from construction to disposal of debris.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at


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