The new Utah Valley University library opened on July 1, 2008 as the first High Performance Building in the state of Utah. The variance of Utah's seasons makes the traditional heating and cooling of large buildings energy inefficient. UVU helped reduce this problem by incorporating sustainable technology into the library. The library offers various architectural features designed with sustainability in mind, including: heat reflection technology, free cycle ventilation, evaporative cooling, light shelving, automatic light monitors, and extra insulation.
During the summer, the library keeps from overheating through a reflective surface on the roof and windows. The innovative window technology reflects up to 70 percent of the sun's heat without reducing natural light. In fact, the building design increases natural lighting through advanced light shelving features. Light shelves essentially work as mirrors which reflect natural light back into the building, thus reducing the need for artificial lighting. While artificial lighting is used, all lights self-monitor natural light levels and adjust accordingly. When the sun provides ample lighting, the artificial lights simply dim and reduce energy consumption. The result is a more efficient cooling and lighting system.
The use of "free cycle" ventilation also reduces the energy costs associated with heating and cooling. Free cycle ventilation optimizes outside air. In the summer, air is first pulled through a damp material which begins an evaporative process and naturally cools the air before it enters the traditional cooling system. This reduces the initial load on the cooling system, resulting in lower energy consumption.
In the winter, the large computer servers housed in the library are used as heaters. Much like how an automobile engine warms a car, outside air cycles through the server room where the heat produced from the data center pre-warms the air before it enters the heating system. The library's "engines" of learning literally warm students throughout the winter months. The warm air is then secured in the building with extra insulation. Conversely, the outside air serves the important function of cooling the servers.
Total savings from all the sustainable practices equals approximately 2,009,333 kWh annually, or nearly $133,823.
When the Library was constructed, the floor was covered with 22,111 square feet of "climate neutral" carpet. The "green" carpet wove recycled plastics as carpet fibers. It is estimated that the use of the plastics prevented 351 tons of greenhouse gas from being emitted. This won the building an award for carpeting with low outgassing qualities.
The paint choice in the Library was considered with sustainability in mind. All paint used in the library was low volatile organic compounds (VOC).
The concern for sustainability extended even to the construction process. The library was the first building on campus to monitor and recycle construction wastes—a precedent which continues with all new construction today.
UVU has committed to continuing the exceptional sustainability practices of the Library in the construction of new buildings.