New Austin Library

701 W Cesar Chavez St


Awarded LEED Platinum for New Construction| July 2018

The New Central Library is replacing the John Henry Faulk Central Library as the new community oriented social hub of downtown Austin. The design focused on creating maximum daylighting illumination and included a large rainwater collection system. The building is the nation’s first LEED Platinum Certified library and is a prime example of sustainable design.

The site of the New Central Library is a redeveloped brownfield. This involved excavating and properly disposing of approximately 30,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil and construction debris from the site prior to construction of the new library. The urban site incorporates vegetative cover for approximately 33% of all open space and pre-development imperviousness has been reduced by 36%.

The rainwater collection system eliminates the need for potable water in irrigation and bathrooms. The system is 85% efficient and is expected to supply close to 813,500 gallons of water per year. On site captured grey water is used to meet irrigation demands and a condensate collection system is used to meet demand for indoor potable water if sufficient rainwater is not collected. These design strategies predict a 40% reduction in the use of indoor potable water and an 80% reduction in irrigation potable water use.

The project also uses alternative energy sources to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. On site solar panels account for 8%, natural gas accounts for 9%, and Austin Energy’s GreenChoice program that sources wind power, supplies the remainder of the facility’s electricity needs. Other strategies used to decrease energy consumption include, demand-controlled ventilation, under-floor air delivery, daylight harvesting and use of district supplied chilled water for AC systems. Energy efficient construction practices such as reduced demolition cost, diverted waste and recycling help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The construction process diverted approximately 93% of on-site generated waste away from landfills. The project also aims to improve the indoor experience by using materials that emit lower levels of VOC’s and installing a CO2 monitoring system that provides feedback on ventilation performance. Additionally, the building ensures that 99% of regularly occupied spaces have access to views and 81% are illuminated by daylighting. With regards to transportation, the New Central Library has 160 bike storage spaces and 8 alternative fuel charging spaces available for the building users. There are also 3 Capital Metro lines within ¼ mile of the building. The library also connects to hike and bike trails on Shoal Creek and the nearby Lady Bird Lake.  

Photovoltaic (solar) panels were installed as a pergola on the south facing rooftop garden, creating renewable solar energy for Austin's New Central Library, as well as provide shade for visitors to study, work, and enjoy the views of Lady Bird Lake.

Energy Use & Cost Reduction

The decrease in energy usage decreases cost. Onsite renewable energy through use of solar panels on the rooftop garden further aids in reducing the amount of purchased electricity. Air conditioning system uses district supplied chilled water cooling which is more efficient than using an on-site chiller. Demand controlled ventilation, under-floor air delivery, daylight harvesting, outdoor air economizer, etc.

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Strategies for Energy Saving:


Indoor Potable Water

Irrigation Potable Water

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Landfill Waste

Recycling is a major way to reduce construction waste. 100% of on-site asphalt was reused in this project. A primary goal was that at least 75% of the "waste" materials produced shall be reused or recycled in order to minimize construction waste in landfills. Upon generation of waste, there will be designated dumpsters on the construction site with signs for respective materials to be received and recycled.

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Where does regional material come from?

A portion of the material comes from within 500 miles of the site.

Regional & Recycled

Regional materials are an important component to reducing a building's carbon footprint. 29% of the materials used to build the kennel addition at Austin Animal Center consist of regional materials, which reduce transportation costs and subsequently carbon emissions. Furthermore, 16% of the cost to build the kennel addition uses recycled materials.

Recycling Strategies


Alternative transportation includes:

Austin Animal Center is located due east of downtown, conveniently located on the intersection of Airport Boulevard and HWY 183. Three bus routes serve the nearby areas.
is located in a high traffic area in the heart of the city with many pedestrian friendly points of access. The projects 65 bicycle stalls and vicinity to public transportation both promote alternative methods of travel.

What about shared transportation?

There are 3 Capital Metro lines within 1/4 mile of the building.


Low-Emitting Content

4 credits for Low-Emitting Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) content

Outdoor Air Intake Flow

Reduction of volatile organic compounds in all categories of indoor material use is an important aspect to improving the experience of the occupants. Deck-to-deck partitions between chemical usage areas further maintain indoor air quality, and zones of occupancy controls maximize thermal comfort rates for daily users.

A Closer Look at VOC Content