The Castro Valley Library now has its crowning jewel — a rooftop solar panel display that makes the building one of the most energy-efficient of its kind.
Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley, library manager Carolyn Moskovitz and other officials were on hand to dedicate the panels and announce the building’s new LEED Gold certification for environmental sustainability.
"You've heard the phrase 'net zero.' It means that everything that uses electricity in this building is being powered by the sun. It's free energy," said Matt Muniz of the Alameda County General Service Agency.
You can look at how much power the rays generate and how much the library uses at any given time by going to datareadings.com.
During Wednesday's dedication event, the library was generating 197 kilowatt/hours and only using 77 of them. That means the 880 panels were actually producing enough to spin the meter backward and re-sell that energy to PG&E.
The panels have been up and running since March. The library has already accumulated a $20,000 credit with PG&E for over-producing power. The utility says it expects to pay the library $512,000 for extra energy.
"I love the look on people's faces when I tell them their new library is completely powered by the sun," said Moskovitz.
The new solar array joins myriad other sustainable features.
- Recessed windows and sunshades allow in natural light that doesn't heat up the building. Under-floor air-conditioners cool the air close the the ground.
- Carbon dioxide monitors sense when people are in the room and turn on the air conditioner accordingly.
- Auto-dimming lights sense the amount of sunlight throughout the day.
- The structure was built with sustainable materials. More than 75 percent of construction debris was recycled.
- Landscaping is made up of drought-tolerant indigenous plants, which halves the water use.
- Landscapers put in plants and river rocks that naturally filter wastewater into the Castro Valley Creek.
- Special floor mats scrape off dirt so they don't pollute the air inside.