South Los Angeles welcomed its first "green" building with the debut Monday of an environmentally friendly library in Exposition Park.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, City Councilman Bernard Parks, library officials and 500 area residents gathered to celebrate the opening of Exposition Park-Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Regional Branch Library at 3900 S. Western Ave.
"Libraries are safe havens to discover the world around us," Villaraigosa said. "We can't have enough libraries in our community. It's a living laboratory that we can build in a way that can also help sustain us going into the future."
The library reopened after being shut down most of the summer for renovations, which doubled the 30-year-old library in size to 14,500 square feet, according to Peter Persic, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Public Library system.
Touted as the first "green" building in South L.A., the library used the new construction rating system LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, developed by the U.S Green Building Council. Four certification levels are awarded by points using the LEED standards, Persic said.
The Exposition Park branch is not only "green" but also "gold," having met certain LEED standards in its reconstruction. Water use was reduced 30%, more trees were planted to provide shade and use less energy, and recycled materials such as bamboo flooring and cotton insulation were used in its construction.
"It has more computers and more space for books and people, including a meeting room, an adult literacy center and special storytelling areas for children and teenagers," Persic said.
One of the most visible changes is the addition of solar power. Photovoltaic panels donated by the Department of Water and Power were installed on the south side of the building and on the roof to generate electricity, Persic said.