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The Greenpoint branch of the Brooklyn, NY Public Library is like no other, and it is truly green. Like most libraries, it’s a place where anyone can read, learn, and work; but unlike most libraries, this branch also serves as an environmental education hub. (Its full name is the Greenpoint Library and Environmental Education Center.)

In fact, it’s the architectural embodiment of environmental awareness and sustainability. Designed by architecture firm Marble Fairbanks, with landscape architecture by SCAPE, the library utilizes green design both inside and out. Its spaces are multitaskers — they are functional, sustainable, educational, and aesthetically pleasing! 

greenpoint is green design

There are many sustainable design features, such as solar panels that generate renewable energy to help power the library. A ground-level planting area of grasses and shrubs with channels dug into the ground, called a bioswale, helps absorb and divert rainwater runoff to reduce flooding. A pollinator garden has plants that bloom at different times throughout the season to attract birds and insects, increasing biodiversity.

sustainable design that educates

Many of these design features also offer an excellent opportunity to educate. The library has a rooftop garden, which helps to reduce the heating and cooling costs of the building beneath — but also doubles as an outdoor classroom where students of all ages can view science demonstrations.

An outdoor water tank captures and stores rainwater, so it can be reused for lab experiments and to water plants. The decor includes wood accent walls made from ash, walnut, and red oak trees, specially chosen because they are species native to the Greenpoint neighborhood. It’s a way for kids to learn about the world around them in a more hands-on way.

new avenues to environmental awareness  

The Brooklyn Greenpoint branch is more than your standard public library. It’s also a unique educational center that truly highlights environmental awareness. Libraries have become more than just a place to borrow a book, offering services like computer classes, job search help, movie nights, and even yoga. 

And now, we’re seeing environmental education taking a prime spot at the library. Learn from a book, from a teacher, from the building around you!

Sources: Brooklyn Greenpoint Library; Fast Company. Image courtesy of Brooklyn Public Library.


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