The Neilson Library will be the paradigm of sustainability at Smith College. Having undergone several additions since it was built in 1909, the Library continues to not only to preserve Smith College’s collections and archives, but also to be a space for students to study, do research and convene. The renovated Library will replace all but the original 1909 building with two jewel boxes to the north and south.
The south jewel box uses a “box within box” concept to preserve Smith’s Special Collections, completley wrapping the volume of archive material with a buffer zone of reading areas. The north jewel box provides additional daylit reading areas with stacks for the general collections which open into a central atrium. The existing 1909 building houses meeting rooms and library reception areas, with a skylight-topped occulus running through to provide deeper daylight. Transsolar’s challenge for the Neilson Library is to provide appropriate environmental conditions for both people and library materials with a wide range of preservation requirements, while minimizing the overall energy demand. Furthermore, the building must be designed to readily receive and use renewable energy sources as Smith College moves toward a net-zero carbon campus by 2030. Transsolar investigated ventilation rates and temperature and humidity ranges, and applied the most current library collections environment and sustainable design research to ensure both safe conditions for archive materials and energy efficient systems. Transsolar’s collaboration with the design team resulted in:
- A high-performance façade with solar shading and high-insulation glazing and walls
- Daylit reading spaces with daylight-dimming controls on LED lighting fixtures
- Smart Climate-Zoning “box within box” concept protects Special Collections with buffer zones.
- Dedicated outside air ventilation with radiant panels
- Natural ventilation on top floor event space and proposed natural ventilation for North Jewel Box reading areas
- High efficiency heat recovery
The current estimated annual site EUI is 60 kBtu/gsf, 50% less energy consumption compared to a typical library and targets LEEDv4 Gold Certification.