The construction work for the new futuristic library in Varennes, Montreal is complete. We are talking about the first institutional building in Canada that produces as much electricity as it consumes. We went on a guided visit of a space that adapts to its era.
Dark solar panels line the roof, the facade is green with plants, and the interior is white with light. In order to attract visitors, the Varennes Library, in Montreal, has chosen to wow.
Light is used to its full potential. "In this room, there are automated windows," describes Eve Fontaine, the Director of Arts, Culture and Library Services for the City of Varennes, who is conducting our visit.
"According to the air conditioning needs of the building, the windows open by themselves in order to regulate the temperature in the building and consume less energy."
"The wooden floor is heated, and it also allows for air conditioning through pumped air," continues Eve Fontaine. With geothermal and solar energy, the library can boast of being the first public building in Canada that produces as much electricity as it consumes, and even more, since "the surplus goes to Hydro Quebec."
Visitors can check the consumption and production of energy of the building for themselves. As we were passing through on May 29, 2015, the building was producing 81.6 kW and consuming 17.8.
The designers also tended to the small details. For example, in the aisles, the bottom row is inclined so that you can see the book titles without lowering yourself. The reading areas are also out of the ordinary. Young people can sit on reading benches that are almost on the floor. As far as children are concerned, they can sit below the level of the wooden floor. A space is reserved for teens. And as proof that the library is adapted to its times, they have the right to speak out loud and even bring their phones.
The borrowing and returning of books is automated through an auto-borrowing system and an intelligent book drop. The employees have not as much disappeared as they have focused themselves on providing advice and helping in the aisles.
The $10 million project has created a real craze in Varennes. Even though the construction work not quite over, the doors opened six months ago and more than 10,000 people have signed up. That is half the city. And you? Do you still go to libraries?
Are the libraries in your city upgrading with changing technologies and visitor demands? What buildings in your community are going NetZero or Energy-Plus? Share your thoughts and stories in the comments area below.
Original article, originally published in French on Ici Radio Canada, here.
Credits: Data and images linked to sources.