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Academic Library Building Design: Resources for Planning: Green / Sustainable Building

ACRL and Core have joined forces to provide a basic framework for architects, planners, and librarians embarking on the planning and design of libraries for higher education.

Updated March 2023

Green/Sustainable Building

According to the U.S. Green Building Council, green building is defined as “a holistic concept that starts with the understanding that the built environment can have profound effects, both positive and negative, on the natural environment, as well as the people who inhabit buildings every day. The International Well Building Institute is focusing on health and wellness in buildings to improve the human experience through design.

Sustainability is about design, construction and operational decisions that will amplify the positive and mitigate the negative impacts of choices we make throughout the entire life cycle of a building. While there are many different definitions of green building out there, it is generally accepted as the planning, design, construction, and operations of buildings with several central, foremost considerations: energy use, water use, indoor environmental quality, material section and the building's effects on its site” (

Photo: Daniel J. Kaufman Library & Learning Center at Georgia Gwinnett College, a LEED Gold-level certified building.

Library-Specific Resources

Websites, Social Media, and Resource Guides

Sustainable libraries: Rebekka Smith Aldrich's blog and other resources about sustainability and green design in libraries, including posts about her regular LibraryJournal column, conferences and other events, new publications, and general thoughts. 

Sustainability RT Blog. The official blog of the ALA Sustainability Round Table, updated regularly with book reviews and recommendations, events, member information, etc. 

Green Libraries: A Website for Information about Green and Sustainable Libraries Maintained by Monika Antonelli at Minnesota State University, this is "a website dedicated to documenting the greening of libraries in North America. This site contains a growing list of libraries that are constructing green buildings. It also contains a list of resources to help people make their libraries more green and sustainable."

Charney, M. & Aldrich, R. S. (Fall 2016). Sustainable building design. Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship "The intended audience for this webliography is librarians, both in the sciences and in other disciplines, and others that are new to the field such as students and members of the general public who are interested in this topic. Sustainable building practitioners may find parts useful as well. The general resources provide a starting point for researching the sustainable building movement, while the remaining resources cover specific subtopics: building techniques; design processes; indoor environmental quality; water use; directories; forums; professional associations; and certification programs, standards, and codes. This resource is applicable to researching industrial, commercial, residential, and community-based buildings."

Sustainability and Libraries LibGuide. This LibGuide was first created for the Libraries Build Sustainable Communities project in 1999-2001, and is being maintained by ALA.

Articles and Books

American Libraries articles tagged with "sustainability in libraries": These popular articles from the ALA magazine highlight sustainable projects in a wide range of libraries, including green roofs, initial and renovation design, and sustainable programming. 

Boyden, L., & Weiner, J.  (2000). Sustainable libraries: Teaching environmental responsibility to communities.  The Bottom Line, 13(2), 74-83.

Carr, M. M. (2013).  The green library planner: What every librarian needs to know before starting to build or renovate. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press.

Carr, M. M., &Carr, S. L. (2013). The greening of America’s libraries: LEEDing the way. Chicago: American Library Association, 2013.

Flannery, J.A., and Smith, K. M. (2016). Eco-Library Design. New York: Springer. 

Henk, M. (2014). Ecology, economy, equity: the path to a carbon-neutral library. Chicago: ALA Editions.

Jankowska, M. A. (2014). Focus on educating for sustainability: Toolkit for academic libraries. Sacramento, CA: Library Juice Press.

Shaffer, G. L. (2018) Creating the sustainable public library: The triple bottom line approach. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.

Tanner, R., Ho, A., Antonelli, M., & Aldrich, R.S. (2022) Libraries and sustainability. Chicago: American Library Association.

Council Tree Public Library, Fort Collins, Colorado - LEED Platinum Certified

External view of Council Tree Public Library, Fort Collins, Colorado.

Hayden Library at Arizona State University - LEED Platinum Certified

General Non-Library Resources


Building Green Inc. (2019). Building green: The most trusted voice in sustainable design and architecture. 

California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery.  (2019). Green building. 

The Green Building Initiative, Green Globes Certification.

International Well Building Institute, Well v2 Certification.

U. S. Green Building Council. (2018). 

National Institute of Building Sciences (2018). Whole building design guide: Sustainable.

World Green Building Council. (2019). 


Books and Reference Guides

Dykstra, A. (2016). Green construction: An introduction to a changing industry. Santa Rosa, CA: Kirshner Books.

Gevorkian, P.  (2006). Sustainable energy systems engineering: The complete green building design resource. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Kats, G. (2009). Greening our built world: Costs, benefits and strategies. Washington, D.C. Island Press.

Kibert, C. J. (2021). Sustainable construction: Green building design and delivery. 5th ed. Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley.

Kubba, S.  (2016). LEED v4 practices, certification and accreditation handbook (2nd ed.). Burlington, MA: Butterworth-Heinemann.

LEED® v4. Reference Guide for Building, Design and Construction. Version 4.0. Washington, DC: U.S. Green Building Council.

LEED® v4. Reference Guide for Building Operations and Maintenance. Version 4.0. Washington, DC: U.S. Green Building Council.

LEED® v4. Reference Guide for Interior Design and Construction. Version 4.0. Washington, DC: U.S. Green Building Council.

Montoya, M.  (2011). Green building fundamentals: A practical guide to understanding and applying fundamental sustainable construction practices and the LEED Green Building System (2nd ed.). Boston: Prentice-Hall.

Yudelson, J.  (2012). Marketing green buildings: Guide for engineering, construction, architecture.  Hoboken, NJ: Taylor & Francis.