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Green buildings: South Side library reopens; Pitt Greensburg's first LEED structure

The University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg is celebrating a new green building on campus, a 16,500 square-foot sustainable classroom and office building.  It was designed to achieve 30 percent annual energy savings and reduce water usage by 50 percent.  A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held last week.

Cassell Hall, named after Pitt Greensburg’s third president Frank A. Cassell, expects to achieve Silver LEED certification, and would be the first of its kind on the Westmoreland County campus.  The university anticipates the U.S. Green Building Council completing their review by the end of this fall.

The building was designed by Forty Eighty Architecture.  Landscaping around the building is part of  demonstrative rain gardens and storm water bioswales for on-site storm water management.

The building features numerous efficiencies which the university expects will allow for 28 percent less energy usage in heating and cooling, and 50 percent less water consumption

In other green building news, the South Side branch of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh reopened on Saturday following a $2.7 million renovation.   The project followed guidelines for LEED renovation standards and is in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The renovation also marks the first time in the library’s 103 years that it will have air conditioning.

"As part of our system-wide pledge to make our library buildings accessible as well as comfortable, it was very important for us to update the South Side to include air conditioning, and we incorporated the geothermal heating and cooling system," says Communications Manager Suzanne Thinnes.  "It’s the first of its kind in any Pittsburgh library."

And even with the new comforts, the library expects substantial energy savings through the reconditioning of existing windows; building envelope upgrades; geothermal heating and cooling; installation of low water usage plumbing fixtures; and the use of recycle and regional materials. 

Thinnes says that renovating libraries in the system as sustainably as possible is part of the library's commitment to the community.

The South Side branch was originally built in 1909, and was one of the first neighborhood branches.


Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Suzanne Thinnes
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