I went to the grand opening of the Ballard branch of the Seattle Public Library this afternoon (the old Ballard branch, a boxy, ugly blight, was replaced by a brand new one two blocks from my townhouse, oh happy day). It was a madhouse, with screaming, apple-juice-stained kids everywhere (I brought three myself), long lines at the desk, Bavarian folk music coming from one room and a chamber trio playing in another … we had to flee fairly quickly.
Although that other branch gets all the attention, the Ballard building is just awesome. A full list of its environmental features can be found here, but the coolest are the green roof, which visitors can look at through a periscope (!), the "notch and tab" furniture, each piece of which is cut from single sheet of laminated wood and fitted together (with a very hip modern aesthetic), and the solar panels. And check this out:
Rooftop scientific devices that measure wind speed and direction, sunlight and the sound of rain. The artwork – LED (light-emitting diode) displays and an audio composition of Ballard-area sounds – is derived from the weather data.
Art and music derived directly from the surrounding environmental conditions. Now that’s cool.
Also, libraries are inherently eco-friendly because they serve as product service systems — meaning, instead of buying and having to dispose of a book, you simply pay (in this case through taxes) to use it for a while. Imagine if the same thing could be done with, say, tools, or clothes, or appliances, or beds, etc. Scratch that — the same thing could be done. People just need to start doing it.