On June 21, the new Hilliard library branch opened to great fanfare.

If you have been following the story, you know that this 63,000-square-foot facility originally was intended to be the clubhouse for the Hickory Chase retirement community and now contains an array of amenities that make it one of the most unique libraries in the Columbus Metropolitan Library system.

What you might not know is that this facility was designed with sustainability in mind.

As with other recent library renovations, leaders focused on using sustainable building materials and allowing more natural light into the building.

When most of us think of libraries, we think of windowless rooms and fluorescent lighting. Not so with this facility.

Natural light pours through many windows, nowhere more impressively than in the "pavilion," a glass-enclosed multipurpose space originally intended to hold a swimming pool.

In other areas of the building, natural light has been added by opening up walls and even the floor above the main staircase to create an atrium effect.

Homework and study rooms are enclosed by glass, both for security purposes and to allow light into what otherwise would be a dark space.

The facility has light fixtures, of course, but the original fluorescent lights have been switched out for more efficient LEDs. Occupancy sensors turn on lights when someone enters a room and off when the room is unoccupied. Metal-halide site lighting also has been upgraded to more efficient and controllable LEDs.

Other changes to the structure included a major reworking of the mechanical equipment.

The original equipment was designed to feed an entire complex of buildings but has been scaled back to fit the current needs of the single building. Much of the mechanical infrastructure was kept in place in order to reduce material usage and the energy costs of relocating them. In addition, plumbing fixtures in the restrooms have been retrofitted with more water-efficient ones.

If you ask DesignGroup architect Joe Mayer the most important feature regarding sustainability, he will tell you it is the most obvious.

"I think by far the most important story of the project from a sustainability perspective is actually the reuse of the existing building and site work," he said. "This step reworked existing developed land in lieu of developing a greenfield site, which saves both the environmental impacts of greenfield development and also the energy costs of running all new utilities, rough grading, etc.

"Also, more than anything we could have done with a new build, reusing the building greatly reduces the amount of raw materials needed for the project and the associated energy expenditures of producing those materials and transporting them to the job site. Potentially this rework even saves much of the existing building materials from going to a landfill."

The new Hilliard library branch will be an asset to our community and a gathering space for many years to come. Through re-use of the existing structure and strategic design changes, the facility also is an example of environmental sustainability in architecture that could serve as a model for the future.

Hilliard City Councilman Pete Marsh is the council liaison to the Hilliard Environmental Sustainability Commission.