Sustainable construction and design have become a trendy topic in real estate, with homebuyers now proudly showing off their graywater systems and solar panels. But the new Mount Vernon Library Commons by HKP Architects in Mount Vernon, Washington proves that sustainable design can be used by any company, any government and anyone who wants to make an impression.

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A rendering of a corner building

Mount Vernon Library Commons is a public project that includes a library, community center and a huge parking area. The idea was to create one of the most sustainable projects in the entire region. This is the first publicly bid passive house project in the Pacific Northwest.

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A row of people in hazard vests and white hard hats

Additionally, like all the best heroic tales, the designers at HKP Architects started by setting an impossible goal. They wanted to reduce the carbon footprint of the concrete used for the project by 30% to 35%. After collaborating with KPFF engineers, they found a way to reduce that footprint by 40%. Using scientific analysis, input from officials with the city of Mount Vernon, sustainability consultants and structural engineers, HKP created a building that is not just visually stunning, it’s a showcase of what the future of design is going to be.

An empty lot toward a brown building

Moreover, the design plan includes EV charging stations for electric vehicles and electric bikes and a huge photovoltaic array that provides solar energy. Resilient and native plantings will be all over the campus to reduce the need for irrigation. The garage is made to capture natural ventilation, which reduces the need for mechanical ventilation. Rain is collected via the stormwater management system, which is transferred to the underground modular wetland system.

A map of the building

Along with the specially-mixed, low-carbon concrete, the building is made with high-performance windows. The library commons was made to have a highly insulated envelope that prevents heat loss and reduces energy needs. The heat recovery ventilation system lowers energy demand as well.

Lastly, the interior of the building will be full of light and airy, open spaces. This is a building that is made for gathering, for learning and for engaging with the community. It’s a building for everyone and it’s a building that, hopefully, can help to influence the rest of the world.

+ HKP Architects

Images via HKP Architects