VCU Cabell Library Expansion Earns LEED Silver Certification

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Virginia Commonwealth University’s Cabell Library in Richmond, VA earned Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Silver certification with the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI). Completed in 2015, the 277,177-square-foot addition and renovation exemplified the potential to transform a mid-century library into a state-of-the-art facility that enlivens an entire campus.

Prior to the addition and renovation, the library faced a dire need for spaces for individual and group study, collaboration, and social interaction. Now completed, the project nearly doubles previous seating capacity and introduces a range of environments for independent and collaborative work. In addition to its range of flexible study spaces, the new library includes an event space, a café, and “the workshop”, which features robust facilities for digital content creation, 3D fabrication, and large display technologies used for gaming and visualization.

In partnership with Boston, MA architectural firm Shepley Bulfinch, Moseley Architects designed the addition and renovation to VCU Cabell Library to showcase a wide variety of sustainable design features. Aligning with the university’s values, the project was designed with the goal of obtaining LEED certification. Focused on water and energy efficiency, design features include: on-site cistern to capture rainwater, which is used for the cooling tower; low-flow plumbing fixtures to conserve potable water; external fine shading and motorized shading devices to control glare and solar heat gain; and chilled beams and LED lighting.

The sidewalks and walking paths promote pedestrian activity, while bike lockups promote commuting by bicycle. Inside the building, environmentally friendly materials were used, with more than twenty percent stemming from recycled matter. To safeguard occupant health, materials were also screened for their impact on indoor air quality. The facility is also designed to encourage occupants to be active. Prominent staircases and stairwell features create an inviting space that encourage the use of stairs rather than the elevators, thus further promoting the health of its occupants.

“The new building is filled with features, innovations and architectural beauty that I think capture and express the immense pride we all have in our university,” University Librarian John Ulmschneider said in a release upon the opening in 2015. “It reflects the maturation of VCU over the past 20 years – a building that almost shouts to everyone who enters it: VCU has arrived.”