Environmental Education at Greenpoint Library

Questions about Environmental Education at the Greenpoint Library? Contact athompson@bklynlibrary.org.

Funded by a $5 million grant from the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund, $1.8 million from the NY State Education Department, and over $14 million in Library and City capital funding, the new Greenpoint Library and Environmental Education Center is the result of community collaboration with Brooklyn Public Library and project architect Marble Fairbanks.

The plaza design offers the public an engaging civic space that demonstrates sustainability and reinterprets the environmental history of the region. There are clear visual connections to interior activities and two accessible green roofs on the upper floors. Primary exterior building materials include custom sandblasted wood panels on the upper level and custom cast concrete on the lower level. Serving as a demonstration project for innovative approaches to sustainable design and a learning tool for the community, the building exceeds LEED Gold certification standards.

Key green features of the building include:

  • A sustainable green roof with areas open to the public, solar panels, educational energy use tracking, rainwater management and horticultural programs, reducing energy usage and providing public access to fresh air and outdoor space.
  • Maximum use of natural daylight on the upper level and energy efficient lighting including LED lights and light sensors on the lower level.
  • Use of energy efficient glazing, solar shading devices, well insulated exterior enclosure panels and materials.
  • Installation of energy efficient mechanical, electrical and plumbing equipment, infrastructure and building management controls that will provide an optimum level of comfort and indoor environmental air quality, while optimizing energy performance.
  • Use of sustainable, durable interior finishes with low VOC emissions and high non-toxic recycled content.
  • Reduction of indoor and outdoor water consumption by using only WaterSense label low flow plumbing fixtures.

Explore Greenpoint Library

Greenpoint Library and Environmental Education Center has so many fascinating environmentally-friendly design elements. Expand each section below to learn about how the building works.

Displacement air (throughout): The large, open spaces in the library utilize a highly efficient heating and cooling system called “displacement ventilation.” A large amount of air is introduced into the space at a low velocity, close to the floor. Our bodies attract the air, creating individualized “thermal plumes” around each person. This delivers fresh air to everyone and removes many of the contaminants associated with heat sources while creating a comfortable environment. The system uses smaller fans and supplies fresh air efficiently throughout all four seasons.  

Wood feature walls (first floor): The library’s three meeting rooms bring the outdoors inside. Each meeting room features a wood wall containing the different species of trees that are native to the Greenpoint neighborhood. The first floor rooms have ash and walnut, while the second floor room has red oak. All of the wood used in the library is Forest Stewardship Council-certified, meaning it was harvested from forests that are responsibly managed, socially beneficial, environmentally conscious and economically viable. 

Bioswale (ground level): The native grasses, shrubs and trees within this planting area serve an important purpose. Together, they form a bioswale, a linear channel designed to slow down rainwater runoff, which will infiltrate the permeable soil below. Bioswales help reduce flooding by holding rainwater before releasing it into the sewer system. An additional bonus of bioswales is that debris and pollutants in the flowing water will decompose in the ground instead of entering regional waterways.  

Glacial outcroppings (ground level): These rocks have a story to tell you. During the last ice age, the Laurentide Ice Sheet began expanding above the area where you’re now standing to heights that exceed Manhattan’s current skyline. This granite outcropping is inspired by the sculpting force and direction of the ice sheet during the glacial formation and melting retreat that occurred approximately 18,000 years ago.   

GFRC panels (ground level): Take another look! These panels aren’t wood, they’re glass fiber-reinforced concrete casts of the sandblasted wood panels from the façade above. Using the sandblasted wood as molds, these panels replicate the natural grain and knotting found in the cedar panels. 

Reading Garden (second floor): Throughout New York City, street trees, gardens and parks provide spaces for humans and animals to encounter one another. This garden is designed to offer habitat and food for birds and insects using dense, fruit-bearing plants. In turn, the plants will migrate out from this site as birds drop seeds and berries throughout the neighborhood.  

Cistern (second floor): What happens when it rains? We keep the water! This cistern can capture and store up to 1,500 gallons of rainwater, which we’ll use for lab experiments and to water our plants. By harvesting rainwater, we use less tap water and reduce the amount of rainwater entering the storm sewer system. Rainwater that is not held here will flow from the roofs down to the plaza below and filter through the bioswale. 

Sandblasted panels (second floor): Wood is composed of both harder and softer layers, which is related to trees’ annual growth rings. The cedar wood panels on the façade of the building have been sandblasted to remove a portion of the softer wood, making it more durable and creating texture from the natural grain.   

Solar panels (third floor): Greenpoint Library runs on sunshine! Installed on a canopy structure above mechanical equipment, our solar panel modules can collect over 15 kilowatts of energy at once, just from sunlight. Over the course of one year, they can produce over 19,000 kilowatts, which help power the library. The modules are bifacial, meaning they can collect energy from both sides of the panel: sunlight from above and from light reflected off the roof.   

Pollinator garden (third floor): Birds and bugs have a big job—they’re pollinators! Pollinators and plants have a symbiotic relationship: pollinators assist plants’ reproductive process by transferring pollen, while the plants produce nectar for the pollinators to drink. The plant species installed in this garden were selected to bloom at different times of the year to attract a wide variety of pollinators.   

Hand pump/cistern (third floor): This hand pump is connected to the 1,500-gallon cistern on the second floor rooftop garden. Holding almost 20 bathtubs full of rainwater, the cistern can provide water for these plants when rain is scarce. Pump the handle a few times to get the water moving and use it on everything from lab experiments to manual plant irrigation. Just be sure to grab a watering can!  


Greenpoint Environmental History Project

The Greenpoint Environmental History Project is dedicated to documenting and preserving the environmental history of Greenpoint through oral histories and community scanning. All of the collected documents, images, and oral history recordings are made available online as part of BPL's digital collection. You can also find the oral histories on SoundCloud and the Our Streets, Our Stories Tumblr.

The Greenpoint Environmental History Project is made possible by the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund.


With gratitude to the Community Advisory Committee and our funders

Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, Assembly Member Joseph Lentol, the New York State Education Department, and the New York City Council including Speaker Corey Johnson, Council Member Stephen Levin and Committee Chair Jimmy Van Bramer.

Greenpoint Library and Environmental Education Center was made possible with funding provided by the Office of the New York State Attorney General and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation through the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund.

SpectrumSupport for technology and internet service provided by the Spectrum Learning Lab program. 

Brooklyn Public Library’s Green Series is made possible through the generous support of Whole Foods Market.

 

 

 

Upcoming Events

Interactive Environmental STEM Workshops, 8-12 Years Old

Tue, Apr 23 3:30pm
Kensington Library

environment kids explore Interactive Environmental STEM Workshops

Join Kensington Library and Solar One for our winter Interactive Environmental STEM Workshops series. 

These 60-minute workshops aim to increase interest in STEM, self-efficacy in regard to STEM skills, expand knowledge on electricity generation, energy efficiency, renewable…

2024 Climate Cafe

Wed, Apr 24 6:00pm
Central Library, Info Commons Lab

adult learning environment

Are you worried about climate change? Is the climate crisis making you anxious? Want to take local climate action but don’t know how to or where?

Whether you're a concerned citizen, an activist, or just curious about the topic, this community-organized space is for you. Come have…

A Conversation about Community Composting with the Wyckoff House

Fri, Apr 26 12:00pm
Stone Avenue Library

Culture Pass environment gardening

We will be sharing the process basics, tips for getting started with composting at home, and where to access organic waste resources in your community.

Earth Day Festival @ Fort Greene Park

Sat, Apr 27 11:00am
Walt Whitman Library

all ages BPL Outdoors Earth Day

Join Walt Whitman Library at Fort Greene Park for their Earth Day Festival! We'll be leading a flower-themed craft and storytime featuring A Seed Grows by Antoinette Portis. More information to come on the full event at this website.

Interactive Environmental STEM Workshops, 8-12 Years Old

Tue, Apr 30 3:30pm
Kensington Library

environment kids explore Interactive Environmental STEM Workshops

Join Kensington Library and Solar One for our winter Interactive Environmental STEM Workshops series. 

These 60-minute workshops aim to increase interest in STEM, self-efficacy in regard to STEM skills, expand knowledge on electricity generation, energy efficiency, renewable…

Air Monitoring Through Technology & Nature - A Neighborhood Walk

Sat, May 4 11:00am
Greenpoint Library

community partner environment

Join Jan Mun for a Jane's Walk with the Municipal Art Society of New York.

Greenpoint and the surrounding areas around Newtown Creek were the epicenter of manufacturing in the 1800s to 1900s at a time when New York City was the manufacturing capital of the world. 

Our walking…

Tree Giveaway at Brownsville Library

Sat, May 4 2:00pm
Brownsville Library

community partner environment

Brooklyn Public Library is partnering with New York Restoration Project to give away trees to registered New Yorkers this Spring.

Native tree species to be distributed include: Alleghany Serviceberry, American Persimmon, American Plum, Bald Cypress, Smooth Alder, Sweetbay Magnolia, and…

Kids Garden Club

Tue, May 7 3:30pm
Greenpoint Library

environment gardening

Join our Kids Garden Club this growing season facilitated by our neighbors at the McCarren Park Demonstration Garden.

Each workshop  will cover a different topic, serving children of different ages. 

Please make sure your child fits the age group for the workshop. As we…

Interactive Environmental STEM Workshops, 8-12 Years Old

Tue, May 7 3:30pm
Kensington Library

environment kids explore Interactive Environmental STEM Workshops

Join Kensington Library and Solar One for our winter Interactive Environmental STEM Workshops series. 

These 60-minute workshops aim to increase interest in STEM, self-efficacy in regard to STEM skills, expand knowledge on electricity generation, energy efficiency, renewable…

Tree Giveaway at Marcy Library

Sat, May 11 10:00am
Marcy Library

community partner environment

Brooklyn Public Library is partnering with New York Restoration Project and Councilmember Chi Ossé to give away trees to registered New Yorkers this Spring.

Native tree species to be distributed include: Alleghany Serviceberry, American Plum, Black Cherry, Eastern Redbud, American…