Library achieves energy savings

Library achieves energy savings
The Library is on track for achieving a 10% reduction in energy usage
14 March 2014

The Library is well on track for achieving a 10% reduction in electricity and gas usage for the 2013/14 year when compared with 2010/11. This saving has been achieved through a variety of initiatives, including turning off air conditioning systems when not needed, reducing the amount of time external lights are turned on and replacing electrical equipment and lighting fixtures with more efficient fittings.

graph showing steady decrease in monthly usage of electricity over last four years

Reducing the use of electricity is one response to the Australian Government's aim to improve the environmental performance of Australian Government departments and agencies. Further information about environmental sustainability is available on the Australian Government website.

As expected, electricity is used for lighting, office equipment and cooling and distributing the air around the building, whilst gas is used primarily for heating. Of the Library’s three buildings, the main Parkes site uses the most energy.

stylised image of man holding electric light standing above factories

Cover image of "Electricity: the modern way" (1932) in our ephemera collection.

The Library is not a typical office building. It contains areas of offices but also has many specialised storage areas for the collections. These storage areas need to be maintained at stable temperatures and humidity levels 24/7 in order to appropriately care for the collections within. Additionally, the Library is a public building, so large spaces – such as our reading rooms – need to be kept at comfortable temperature levels for our visitors during opening hours. We also have exhibition spaces which display valuable collection items, often from other countries, such as our Mapping Our World exhibition which recently closed.

The main reading room photographed from the mezzanine

Our main reading room, a large space requiring a stable environment both for our patrons and for the collection items.

During office hours, staff areas are air conditioned. However, the opening hours for the Library are longer than standard office hours – approximately 70 hours a week not including any special events that may occur.

Despite these challenges, the Library set quite ambitious targets to reduce the energy used by 10% within three years.

The Library has implemented many initiatives to help reduce our energy, including:

  • getting staff to turn off equipment at the end of the day and when not in use
  • purchasing energy efficient equipment, such as fridges, microwaves etc and also replacing old light fittings with LED light fittings, which are more energy efficient
  • installing sensor lights in stack areas so that only the lights that are needed turn on
  • reducing the time the air conditioning systems operate whilst still maintaining the required temperature and humidity conditions
  • doing six monthly after-hours walk-throughs of the building to check whether equipment and air conditioning has been turned off
  • educating staff about how they can save energy in the workplace.

The Library is currently on track to meet the target of a 10% reduction in energy consumption based on the 2010/11 financial year – a significant achievement. The graphs below show the progress we have made over the past three years. Since gas is used for heating it is used most during winter. Electricity, on the other hand, is used all year around with an increase in the summertime to keep us cool!

Comparison of our decreasing usage of electricity, gas and paper over the last three years.

Further information about energy consumption and environmental management at the Library can be found in the 2012-13 annual report.

If you would like to know more about sustainability at the Library you may contact us at sustainability@nla.gov.au.

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