Oak Ridges Library Is Awarded Silver Leed Certification

Oak ridges library is awarded silver leed certification for its sustainable design, materials and energy efficiency.

As further evidence of the City of Richmond Hill, Ont.’s commitment to building a sustainable community through conserving natural resources and thoughtfully planning the build and design of its spaces, the city has earned a Silver LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for Richmond Hill Public Library’s Oak Ridges branch.

The designation recognizes the building’s sustainable design features, materials selection, water and energy efficiency and reduction in energy consumption. It also further demonstrates Richmond Hill’s commitment to balancing growth and green in the fast-growing city to meet its new requirements of incorporating environmentally responsible design in the construction of all new city facilities.

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Opened in November 2019, Oak Ridges Library is the newest Richmond Hill Public Library location and has become a civic landmark with its linear design, modern appearance and generous use of wood, which reflects the natural elements of the Oak Ridges Moraine. It was meant to complement the well-received Oak Ridges Community Centre, which also received LEED certification, as well as reflect the new role libraries are playing in the community.

“The library is changing and should be thought of as a place to gain knowledge,” says long-serving city council member Greg Beros, who also serves as the board chair at the Richmond Hill Public Library. “To address that, we need the newest technologies in our libraries, such as our MakerSpace area, which features green walls and can be used as a recording studio. In gaining knowledge and developing new skill sets, a lot of that is hands-on, not just reading about it. That in turn, brings in different people to the library.”

Designed by the architect firm Perkins & Will, which also designed the Oak Ridges Community Centre, Oak Ridges Library features key sustainable elements that contribute to the Silver LEED certification, including:

  • • a 26 per cent reduction in energy consumption;
  • • a total of 82 per cent of construction waste that was diverted by landfill (on average, 35 per cent of landfill waste comes from construction);
  • • a total of 30 per cent of recycled content that was used in the construction of the building;
  • • a 37 per cent reduction in the use of potable (drinkable) water, thanks to low-flow fixtures; and
  • • a total of 80 per cent of all wood used in the library construction is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)– certified to encourage environmentally responsible forest management.

The two-storey, 19,000-square-foot library also contains a Teen Zone with video games, a green roof to accent sustainability and reduce heat effects, children’s play structures and more. For the firm of Perkins & Will, its long history has been well versed in how important design can be in communities.

“We have a belief that design can improve the well-being of our communities,” says Phil Fenech, principal at Perkins & Will. “Our firm has believed that since our founding in the 1940s, when we began to look at what could be made to make the experience of education better with the belief that design can improve every sector of our society, and that’s part of our DNA. We always put purpose and value as our priorities.”

The location at 34 Regatta Ave., just west of Yonge Street, meant that the building would be surrounded on all sides, which presented its own set of challenges for the architects to make this important community structure stand out. While you can now receive a virtual library card and download e-books, digital offerings, databases and you can also read magazines online, the physical library remains an integral part of any community.

“This is a very tight site, so we had to tell a big story on a small piece of land,” says Michael Blois, associate at Perkins & Will. “The concept was to draw inspiration from the Oak Ridges Moraine and think about the landforms and materials like limestone and the wood found in the moraine. The large wood frame is an identifiable feature of this project and the design, which we knew people would understand as a gathering place in the community.”

The Oak Ridges Library design was a completely collaborative process for the City of Richmond Hill, and Perkins & Will in order to deliver the facility on budget.

“City and library staff collaborated with Perkins & Will to determine the sustainable design elements,” says Nick Kalyvas, director of Facility Management, Planning & Infrastructure Department for the City of Richmond Hill. “As with all progressive construction projects, each one is unique in its design. We strive to deliver architecturally significant buildings that are sustainable and highly functional, and we are very proud to have attained a Silver LEED certification.”

Learning is a lifelong endeavour, and with the technology included in the Oak Ridges Library, along with its sustainable design and efficiency, it can also be a living experience.



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Rick Muller

Rick Muller