Officials break ground on county's first 'green' library

DACULA - Gwinnett's 15th library branch won't just house the books. It'll be a learning experience by itself.

The $7 million project will produce the county's first "green library."

Officials broke ground Tuesday on the Hamilton Mill branch, to be located along Braselton Highway at the entrance to Duncan Creek Park. The branch is expected to open in early 2010.

"We have people coming to the library to earn how to build a green building," library board chairman Lloyd Breck said. "(Here), they can see that in practice ... and see how things work."

From a pervious parking lot to the recycled bricks, the building is designed to achieve the silver designation on Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Drought-resistant plants in the landscaping, low-flow toilets and stormwater capturing will help conserve water and a design to harness natural lighting and other features are expected to reduce the energy costs up to 25 percent.

"When you look at our utility bills, that is huge," Breck said. "The savings over time are going to way offset that (upfront cost)."

For the first time, the library is also incorporating an art element into the design. Architects worked with a local artist to design a series of screen-glass paintings to be used in the windows. The paintings depict water, sun, fire and language.

"Folks in the neighborhood will be really excited to see the finished product," Commissioner Mike Beaudreau said.

With a $2 million state grant, $5 million for the branch was funded through the special purpose local option sales tax, which is on November ballots for renewal.