Nestled on the west side of Perry Township in Indianapolis, the Indianapolis Public Library West Perry Branch stands at the intersection of community engagement, sustainable design, and innovative construction practices. On August 31, members of the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) Indiana Chapter had the opportunity to delve into the intricacies of this remarkable project during a presentation and building tour. The event was led by Landscape Architect and Sustainability Advocate Craig Flandermeyer, Branch Manager Lindsay Haddix, and me. We unveiled the layers of planning and the commitments that have transformed the Branch into a beacon of environmental consciousness and community harmony.

A Vision for Community, Sustainability, and Growth
The West Perry Library was envisioned as more than just a repository of books; it was meant to be the heart of knowledge, community life, and innovation for Perry Township’s west side residents. Together with HBM Architects and Powers & Sons Construction Company, the library has become a space that speaks volumes about environmental stewardship and the people it serves.

Designing with Purpose: Mission and Objectives
From its modest beginnings in June 2019, we embarked on a mission to accomplish a series of vital goals and objectives including:

  • Size and Scope: Designing a new 25,000-SF facility on six acres with parking and site enhancements.
  • Community Focus: Creating a prominent public building designed to be a nucleus of community life and activity. Catering to a diverse population, the library features Burmese, Spanish, and English materials.
  • Functionality and Flexibility: Designing a space that maximizes utility through adaptable layouts, systems, and staffing.
  • Open and Inviting Spaces: Building a facility that radiates openness, inviting patrons both inside and out.
  • Sustainable and Durable: Incorporating durable materials and sustainable practices into every facet of construction.
  • Universal Accessibility: Addressing accessibility through universal design principles, considering cultural, transportation, and language barriers.
  • Comfort and Efficiency: Balancing occupant comfort and energy efficiency harmoniously with an Under Floor Air Distribution system.
  • LEED Certification: Striving for a minimum LEED v4 Silver Certification by integrating energy and resource conservation measures.
  • Timely Execution: Adhering to a timeline that met key milestones and early delivery.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: Managing the project within a budget cap of $9.5 million for construction.
  • Recognizing Excellence: The West Perry Library isn’t just a project; it’s a showcase of excellence. Its achievements have been recognized by esteemed institutions such as the U.S. Green Building Council, AIA Indiana, AIA Cleveland, IIDA, and the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce. These accolades reflect the project’s groundbreaking approach to sustainability, design, and community impact.

Sustainable Enlightenment: A Day in the West Perry Library
Once inside, the library’s sustainable design principles are immediately apparent with high wood clad ceilings contributing to excellent acoustics. Abundant natural light from every angle fosters a healthier and less stressful environment for both employees and patrons. Innovative exterior metal panels control glare while enhancing the reading experience, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the beauty of the surroundings.

Harvesting Energy and Reducing the Carbon Footprint
One of the West Perry Library’s most significant achievements is its LEED Gold certification, earned by amassing 62 out of 110 possible points. This recognition highlights the library’s accomplishments in energy and atmosphere, water efficiency, indoor environmental quality, innovation, and regional priority credits. The building’s rooftop solar panels were intended to save between 75 and 80 percent of electrical energy annually and contribute up to 75 percent of the facility’s power consumption, considerably reducing the monthly burden on taxpayers.  Recent analysis shows the panels have been producing enough power to put 15% of their production back into the grid.

A Legacy of Sustainability and Community
With its LEED Gold certification and thriving community spirit, the West Perry Library is more than a building; it shows what can be achieved when sustainability and community engagement take center stage. Its journey from conception design to substantial completion in May 2021 stands as an inspiring example of how architecture, collaboration, and dedication can coalesce into a living, breathing embodiment of a better, greener future on the Southside of Indianapolis. With an unwavering commitment to working in concert with our Owners, we’re creating structures that not only benefit the environment but also enrich the communities where we live and work. If you’re moved by the West Perry Library’s story of sustainability and are eager to start your own green building design project, contact us, so that together, we can design more sustainable and vibrant communities.