West Branch Library, City of Berkeley

Berkeley, California

Berkeley Public Library


"Small but mighty ... with the help of clever passive design techniques."

David Barista, Editor-in-Chief, Building Design + Construction
  • This is a building that has a net zero annual energy bill and a zero carbon footprint.

  • The NZE library project is particularly significant since it is an early prototype design of a zero net energy building for the San Francisco Bay Area, reflecting the climate and weather patterns of the area, the availability of daylight and the degree of practicality of the renewable energy supplied by a solar photovoltaic system.
  • To minimize energy consumption, HED installed banks of south facing windows which allow the sun to naturally heat the building. The building is ventilated by using negative pressure to pull in fresh air. Windows open and shut automatically to regulate the temperature.
  • To minimize energy consumption in the building, the design scheme utilizes daylighting through a series of skylights and a large glass curtain wall on the main façade. Where possible, the team minimized the amount of electrical lighting in the building, such as in the back office areas.
  • The library is not only a place for people to check out books, but a community center that allows people to collaborate and build business.
  • Most of the library is in one large room, with spaces set off to differentiate different age groups.
  • There is an area for young children with a padded bench and low tables, and a nearby area with slightly larger furniture for older children.
  • This is an airy, light filled building with soaring windows, skylights, and an abundance of natural light.
  • HED provided NZE design consulting and analysis. With the help of CFD modeling, the design team devised a clever natural ventilation scheme that uses negative pressure to pull in fresh air.
  • The first Net Zero Energy library in the state of California.

people involved in this project:

Michael Bulander

Architecture + Design Leader

Wan Chin Lo

Architecture + Design

Sylvia C. Wallis

Architecture + Design