What’s green at Princeton University Library?

In 2019, Princeton University Library (PUL) completed a 10-year series of renovations of its Harvey S. Firestone Library. Firestone Library, which is one of nine locations within PUL, opened in 1948 as the first large American university library constructed after World War II. Guided by 11 principles, the goal of the Firestone renovation was to redefine, rethink, and revitalize its role as a hub of campus life. 

In recognition of Earth Month, the staff at PUL is reflecting on some of the Library changes and updates that have contributed to energy savings and supported Princeton University’s sustainability objectives

Lighting up the stacks

With more than 70 miles of shelving housing, having great lighting in the stacks at Firestone Library is a must. Thus the overhead lighting fixtures will soon be retrofitted to use more efficient LEDs — or light-emitting diodes. The lights in the stacks are automatically dimmed when aisles are not occupied.  A recent energy audit showed that typical light fixtures in the stacks are only fully illuminated for only 15 minutes per day.

A project at Mendel Music Library saw the same LEDs installed in those stacks, while many of our spaces, such as the temporary Marquand Library of Art & Archaeology benefit from being heavily lit by sunlight. And, beginning the summer of 2023, approximately 3,000 T5 fluorescent bulbs will be replaced with LEDs around the Library.

A Library staff member selects a book in the background while the lights stacks in the foreground remain dimmed.

A Library staff member selects a book in the background while the lights stacks in the foreground remain dimmed. Photo credit: Brandon Johnson

Green with (roof) envy

If you’ve ever wondered why a couple of glass and stone enclosures are sitting on a lawn outside of Firestone, you should know that they are not partially protruding greenhouses. In actuality, those are the atriums of the Marquand reading rooms, which are surrounded by Firestone’s green roof. 

The green roof, which is covered with native grass that doesn’t require mowing, provides improved insulation as well as drainage for when heavy rains roll through.

Firestone’s green roof as visible from Nassau Street

Firestone’s green roof as visible from Nassau Street. Photo credit: Brandon Johnson

Low temp, low energy

PUL’s upcoming projects, like the construction of the Commons Library (which will also have a green roof) and Marquand Library’s new space, and renovations to the Engineering Library, will be conditioned by low-temperature hot water instead of steam.

Published on April 21, 2023

Written by Brandon Johnson, Communications Strategist

Media Contact: Barbara Valenza, Director of Library Communications