NYC’s first net-zero energy library opens

The New York Public Library on Wednesday opened its 14th branch on Staten Island and the first net-zero energy library in New York City. Located in the Bricktown Commons shopping center on the South Shore in Charleston, the $17 million, 10,000-square-foot building was designed by Ikon 5 Architects to be energy efficient, with solar panels providing nearly 100 percent of the energy the building will use. Managed by the city’s Economic Development Corporation with the Gilbane Building Company, the new branch offers patrons a variety of amenities, including dedicated spaces for adults, teens, and children and flexible multi-purpose rooms for programs and classes.

“This library is a model for what we can do to eliminate emissions from public buildings and help fight the climate crisis,” Dawn M. Pinnock, the commissioner of the city’s Department of Citywide Administrative Services, said. “DCAS is proud to have provided funding and technical expertise to make this the first net-zero energy library in New York City.”

The Charleston branch features an array of solar panels on its roof which will provide almost 100 percent of the energy used throughout the entire year. Enhanced insulation and low-energy lighting also contribute to its energy efficiency.

The branch has an entry plaza with bench seating and a special “branch chair” made by Thos. Moser, reminiscent of the chairs Carrère and Hastings designed for the 42nd Street Library in 1907 which are still in use at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building.

The new branch features a permanent public artwork by Mark Reigelmän, commissioned as part of the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs’ Percent for Art program. Titled “Curiouser,” the piece consists of small metal sculptures ranging from keys to cats and is meant to represent the essence of important literary items and stories, according to a press release.

The Charleston branch is the second new location to open on Staten Island within the last 10 years; the Mariners Harbor Library opened in December 2013. Port Richmond’s library, located within a historic Carnegie building constructed in 1905, is currently undergoing a full renovation to modernize its infrastructure and interior design and is expected to reopen in fall 2023.

“The opening of the Charleston Library symbolizes an important moment in the history of The New York Public Library and the city we serve—representing a time of growth and renewal after extraordinary challenges,” Anthony W. Marx, president of NYPL, said.

“Libraries are singularly equipped to provide New York City’s communities with spaces that foster connection and collaboration. As we enter a new chapter following a period of so much uncertainty and isolation, this beautiful new library—with its dedicated and knowledgeable staff and vital resources—will reinforce the support and inspiration that New Yorkers need and deserve.”

In June 2021, the NYPL opened a new central circulating branch in Midtown, Manhattan that features a public rooftop terrace, which as of its creation was the first of its kind in the city.

In October 2021, the Brooklyn Public Library opened a new branch under the Manhattan Bridge in Dumbo, the first new library built in the borough for almost 40 years. It features scenic views of the East River and lower Manhattan’s skyline.

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